When the best thing about your game is the jab you took at the other team on the Jumbotron, things are not going quite as planned.
But that's the case the Dallas Stars found themselves in after a mess of a game against the Winnipeg Jets, where they not only lost 5-2 to a clearly disappointed home crowd, but they may have lost one player to suspension and another to injury.
The hits, they just keep on coming.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff has tried a variety of tactics after bad losses this season, from video-heavy sessions to time away from the rink to get the players out of their own heads with varying degrees of success, none of it sustained. So on Wednesday, Ruff went old school and put the players through a good old fashioned bag skate.
The players were on the ice for about 90 minutes with lots of hard skating drills designed to make the team put it in the work that's not coming through on game day.
"We are going to test the will today," Ruff told DallasStars.com. "I didn’t like our third period (in Tuesday’s loss to Winnipeg). I didn’t like some of the penalties we took in the game. I thought we got outplayed. I thought we got outworked and got outplayed."
Ryan Garbutt skated with the group, but it's a good bet he won't be available for the Stars next game after getting word of yet another hearing with the Player Safety folks in New York, this time for a slewfoot. He was suspended less than a month ago for kneeing and a little more than a year ago for charging, not to mention the spearing he was not suspended for in the playoffs.
Given all that, it's almost certain he will end up in the box for at least a few games. Travis Moen will likely join him there, as he was injured in the loss to the Jets.
Ruff called both that play and Garbutt's earlier trip of Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson "inexcusable."
With Garbutt and Moen likely out, Ales Hemsky slid back into the regular lines, skating alongside Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel. He's been scratched for the last two games. There's also the distinct possibility the Stars could call up a right wing from the Texas Stars, with Brett Ritchie or Travis Morin being obvious candidates with Radek Faksa and Scott Glennie also possibly in the mix.
Alex Goligoski and Kari Lehtonen also missed practice. Lehtonen has apparently been battling a lower-body issue, according to Ruff, while Goligoski has a "bone-related issue" that is affecting his skating. An injury would explain a lot about Lehtonen's performance as well, as he has not been himself this season.
They'll likely still have plenty of time to catch up on the bag skating fun. With third period issues plaguing the team all season and three days off in the schedule, Ruff said he wants to push the ability of the team to overcome fatigue.
"I looked at the big picture and our third periods in the big scheme of things, and it hasn’t been good enough," Ruff said. "We are still not where we need to be when it comes to battling fatigue and working through it. I know we are tired, but we’ve got to keep coming. I told the team this morning that that was our trademark. We’ve lost our brand, and we’ve got to get it back. There is a good opportunity here with the three days to test some of the will in practice."