Dallas Stars Practice Update: Could the Super Line Be Reunited?
Not that one. The other one!
When Travis Morin was recalled by the Dallas Stars on Friday, instantly the proposition of reuniting the "Super Line" seemed like a grand idea. The trio had proven to be very effective together in the recent past and with the Stars struggling mightily the past few months and with the final outcome of the season in jeopardy, why not get the magical line combination back together and see what can happen?
Of course, we're talking about the Super Line of Curtis McKenzie, Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour.
With Morin now in Dallas, the opportunity seemed ripe to have that big line that helped power the Texas Stars last season get back together once more as the Stars try to find any way to spark themselves out of this season-long funk. In fact, we wondered if this could be a possibility almost as soon as the recall news was announced.
With Hemsky having practiced on the Eakin line this week and with Morin able to seemingly slide perfectly into that third center role, this seemed to be as good an idea as any....
What are the chances we see this magical lineup? 5%? Benn-Spezza-Seguin Roussel-Eakin-Hemksy McKenzie-Morin-Sceviour Horcoff -Fiddler-Cole— DefendingBigD (@DefendingBigD) December 11, 2014
Well...we were close.
On Friday, these were the lines that were used during practice.
Benn - Spezza -Seguin
Roussel - Eakin - Hemsky
McKenzie - Morin - Cole
Horcoff - Fiddler - Sceviour**
One Super Line reunited and the other....so close.
I stated this on Twitter earlier in the week, but I'm intrigued to see what Hemsky can do along with Eakin and Roussel, two players that are very capable of driving the net and possibly opening up the space that Hemsky likes to operate in with the puck.
"We've talked about it, I may throw Sceves up there a couple of times," Ruff said, in regards to putting the big AHL line back together. "I like the way Erik is playing, I think Erik can add a little more speed, which might be something they need. But it's something I won't be afraid to give it a go, because they're very comfortable playing together."
The "third line" also provides some good size and physicality along with what should be somewhat decent defensive awareness. In theory, this could give the Stars a bit of a "balanced" top three lines...but we've seen so far this season that no matter what the line combinations are, the Stars have struggled mightily to even look like a competent hockey team for more than small stretches throughout a game.
"The simple things have to be better," said Lindy Ruff on Friday. "We're not drawing up a magic play that's going to help us win games. For me, the defending, the compete when we're coming back into our end -- which was a huge strength of our team -- in the games I watched, I saw three, I saw four...but there weren't many times I saw five guys hit the blue line. That is one of the messages I sent."
Last weekend the Stars played a complete team game and limited the Montreal Canadiens to just 17 shots in a 4-1 win in perhaps the best overall game of the season for the Stars. Three days later it was followed up by one of the worst performances by the Stars in quite some time, in front of a home crowd that had obviously had enough with the inconsistent struggles of their team.
"It's not acceptable," said Ruff of the team defense. "Our system is built to have five guys back. If one piece is missing it really ruins how we want to play in our end, and we look discombobulated. I don't like that. It looks like we don't know how to play. I've really stressed that Player A has to be here, Player B has to be there and when we are -- we're a strong team. And if we do have to give up anything, it will be on the outside."
On the heels of Jamie Oleksiak getting temporarily sent down to the AHL (indications are he'll be back after two games this weekend with the Texas Stars), the Stars rolled out a bit of a different look on defense as well.
Goligoski - Klingberg
Jokipakka - Daley
Benn - Demers
Klingberg has seen his minutes drastically reduced in recent games but after a good period of rest, could be in line to see his minutes picked back up again rather quickly. When paired with Alex Goligoski, Klingberg was averaging well over 23 minutes per game and was easily the most effective defenseman on the ice -- let's hope the same happens again if these pairings stick for tomorrow's game.
**As always, these line combinations are subject to any gameday Ruffling.