"The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again if you're getting the same results," Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said on Monday.
"We don't want to go down that road"
The Stars are 0-4-2 in their past six games and now sit dead last in the ultra-competitive Central division. While Thursday's game showed progress, the Stars still haven't looked fully comfortable for an entire game and once again lost after a late goal in the third period.
As such, Lindy Ruff hinted that he could be shaking things up even further after moving the lines around the past two games, especially with the news that center Cody Eakin and winger Valeri Nichushkin are likely out for Saturday. Eakin is battling a upper-body injury and Nichushkin had to leave practice again early on Friday after just two games back from a hip and groin injury.
"He's hurt again," Ruff said, on Nichushkin. "It's tough to try to get him going in games when he's not quite healthy. He's tried, he's feeling it again, and so we'll see where it is."
This will likely lead to a callup, or two, depending on the status of both players moving forward. Ruff noted that Eakin's injury could either be short or long-term, but he's almost definitely missing Saturday's game agains the Sharks. The Stars will need to bring up at least one player, which could mean another shot for Travis Morin or Curtis McKenzie, depending on what the team is thinking.
While there weren't any lines to really go by in practice on Friday (Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky took maintenance days), here's what Mike Heika has to say about Ruff's options.
That also leads to the question of what the Stars will do with their lines if they call up players. Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky took maintenance days, but should be ready to play Saturday. Ruff played Jamie Benn with Spezza and Hemsky in the third period Thursday, and could reassemble that line. He also played Patrick Eaves and Antoine Roussel at times with Tyler Seguin, so that's a possibility. Or. he could go back to Benn and Seguin together or to the Superline, or he could try Hemsky with Benn and Seguin.
One other big shakeup on the way is the splitting up of defensive pair Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski. The bottom four of the Stars defense have struggled significantly and while Goligoski and Daley have been far from perfect, Ruff feels that it might be best to look for a different dynamic on defense.
"I think we're going to look at splitting up our top two," Ruff said. "Dillon and Benn, I think Dillon struggles a little bit on the right side. I talked about Goligoski maybe playing the right. It's something where we could easily split them up and then go back to. But I think tomorrow we will start where those two are split up."
This means that Sergei Gonchar, Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski will -- at the very least -- start tomorrow's game on the right side. The Stars have struggled significantly without any right-handed defensemen, and it's clear Ruff is leaning on his most experienced blueliners to help alleviate those struggles from the right side. So how do you make the pairings from that?
Dillon - Goligoski
Benn - Daley
Oleksiak/Connauton - Gonchar
Jordie Benn and Trevor Daley have played together in the past to varying degrees of success, so this is a familiar pairing that might or might not work. Moving Dillon back to the left side could be the biggest boost this change will have, as Dillon hasn't looked quite comfortable this season and is still not up to the level he's certainly capable of. Putting him back into a comfort zone could certainly do wonders.
We won't know anything for certain until morning skate tomorrow, and even then it might be until warmups and the start of the game before we know exactly what the new line and defensive combinations will be.
Finally -- indications are Anders Lindback will be in net tomorrow night against the Sharks.