As Brandon mentioned yesterday, Lindy Ruff mixed things up again at practice Monday, putting Ales Hemsky back on the top line. The defense also looked shuffled, with John Klingberg playing alongside Jokipakka, but Alex Gologoski's day off might have something to do with that.
Aside from the four-on-a-couch line combinations, Coach Ruff consistently emphasized that the Stars need to be consistently consistent and play the same way consistently and never change anything while being consistent.
Mike Heika breaks it down for us with some of these quotes from Ruff:
"I called it a system reset. We rebooted. I actually showed some of our training camp videos and I said if we want to remain consistent, we have to do things consistently…and we haven’t. If we do them well, we’re a good team. I referenced last year--80 percent of those guys in the room had career years playing the way we need to play. I went through all of that. It was not about showing what happened last game, but showing how we need to play. I’ve gone to leaders of the group and said, ‘It starts with you guys. You guys have to do the right things on a consistent basis, so that everyone follows you guys.’"
Is this a crossroads in the season?
"It really is at a time where we have to play consistent hockey. If you play consistent hockey and do the little things right, you’ll win your share of games. You’re still going to lose some, but we need to find a really consistent game that will push up to standards." [DMN]
Two things stand out here to me. First, Ruff acknowledges that a lot of the guys played better hockey for a lot of last year than they had played for most of their careers prior. Second, he acknowledges that they will need to do so again if the Stars want to remain consi--no, I'm sick of that word already. If the Stars want to have sustained success, Ruff is saying that they need to embrace the system, which they have not been doing, and play "the way they need to play".
It's easy to sit here and say that they call them "career years" for a reason, but the point, of course, is that the Stars believe their sputtering season to be the work of their own insufficient adherence to the way they "need to play" more than any deeper problem with the group as it is assembled today (of course, the group has changed quite a bit already from training camp, so take that with a chunk o' rock salt.)
There may come a point, if things don't improve, where that way itself is questioned by those in the organization. It's surely being tested right now. But for the moment, the Stars are going to redouble their concentration and watch a boatload of video tape from last spring in order to remind themselves what they were doing that they most certainly haven't been doing this year. Time is running short, so let's hope those VCRs are in good shape. They're going to need them.
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Tuesday Links are no longer 18% off when you use the code "DBDCYBERWITHSANTA." Also, don't use that code anywhere.
James Mirtle fawns over Tyler Seguin for a bit here, though he does mete out some criticism alongside his praise of the 22-year-old phenom. Good piece. [Globe and Mail]
Speaking of, check out this new website. Wonder what it's about. [TylerSeguin.com]
Rick Gosselin says the Stars are too far back to make the playoffs. Of course, he also thinks the Stars need a Hatcher or a Matvichuk, so who knows what to believe. [DMN]
Ralph Strangis has a must-read piece up at the Stars' website that chronicles his love of broadcasting and hockey from an early age. Walter Bush and Al Shaver feature prominently in this fascinating look at the franchise's booth history. [Stars]
Mike Heika also thinks it will be tough for the Stars to make the playoffs, but he doesn't go so far as to write our five-point shinies off just yet. [DMN]
The Stars avoid the main list on the "Connor Watch," but their 0-1-1 weekend didn't go unnoticed by Sean McIndoe. [Grantland]
I don't know what's more amazing about this: that the Avalanche had a 4-on-1, or that they scored despite completely borking it up beyond all reason. [SportsNet]
Slava Voynov has put in a "not guilty" plea for charges related to his domestic violence saga. [LA Times]
It's amazing how playing with an elite player like Patrick Kane can help get your career off the mat, huh? Brad Richards sure doesn't mind. [Puck Daddy]
Marco Scandella has been fined $2,755.38 for checking #FakeAmericanHero T.J. Oshie in the head. I believe that equates to like five bucks for me. Would I hit a hockey player for five bucks? Well... [NHL]
In case you've ever wondered something like "how would another market react to the Stars' struggles if they were their own?" Well, Ed Snider is here to show you: he is calling out players and being generally grumpy. You might, too, if your first line had accounted for all but two of your forward corps' goals over the last nine games. [Philly.com]
Leo Komarov was "a question mark" at Toronto's practice yesterday. I'm going to assume "enigmatic" is used somewhere in this article, too. [The Star]
Joe Delessio had a good writeup a few days back on what it would take to get hockey to Vegas. There's gotta be a pool going on this, right? Would Vegas people bring hockey to town just to win a bet? Has this bit been done already? These are the questions I ask. [Sports on Earth]
Via Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm), I bring you a young, young, young Tyler Seguin (I mean, he's still quite young, relatively, but you know) going thin mints on some tiny goalie person.