By Martin Iheke
As we enter the month of the December, the Dallas Stars continue to search for answers on why they continue to struggle and how they can put a stop to it.
Last Tuesday night, the problems continued to persist at the Toronto Maple Leafs. With barely a half a minute into the game, Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak scored to put his team up, 1-0, after a sloppy turnover by the Stars in their own zone. It did not get better after that. The Maple Leafs were able to score two more before the Stars were able to get on the score sheet thanks to forward Jason Spezza’s goal in the second period. It was not enough to get the Stars going as Toronto won, 5-3.
“We had to play catch up all night,” Stars forward Erik Cole said, according to NHL.com. “It’s hard enough to win games when you give the other team two- and three-goal leads. We’re working hard, but we still need to do a lot of things better with the puck. We did a lot of good stuff tonight, but there is still a lot more we could do and we could make fewer errors.”
It is hard to win in this league, especially on the road when you spot the other team a two-goal lead. Turnovers and bad special teams can bury you in games and that is what happened to the Stars. Unfortunately, the same problems would continue in Detroit against the Red Wings last Thursday night. In net for the Stars was backup goalie Jussi Rynnas, who replaced Anders Lindback to see if he can be of any significance. He was not and the guys in front of him did not help at all as the Red Wings won, 5-2. That is four straight games now that the Stars have given up five goals.
“We lost a lot of battles out there. I thought our goalie played well and made a lot of good saves. We kind of hung him out to dry,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said, according to dallasnews.com. “It’s turnovers and it’s our coverage in our own end. I don’t see any of this being any of our goalie’s fault. It starts with our own team.”
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff continues to shuffle lines and defense pairings to find answers to any sort of consistency. At the same time, it also causes inconsistent play because it is hard for players to find any chemistry with one another. Despite that, Ruff is trying to find what works that will get his team to start winning again. They tried a different approach than they normally do last Friday after coming home from the three-game road trip.
“We had a few guys that were going to be maintenance (Friday). We decided we’d get in a light skate tomorrow, which is different for a 6 o’clock game,” Ruff said, according to dallasnews.com. “We had two real late nights, late night getting into Detroit and late night getting home last night. We thought the best was to bring them in and have off-ice or a little bit of on-ice and go with a game-day skate.”
It looked like that approach worked as the Stars snapped a four-game losing streak beating the Canadiens, 4-1. Tyler Seguin was the star in this one as he had two goals and an assist. He is leading the league in goal scoring at 21 and is tied for first in points at 35. After the game, Ruff was pleased about the performance.
“I pretty well liked everything,” he said. “That’s the way we need to play. A lot of smart decisions and lot of really good puck management. You win a lot games playing like that. It starts by your best players doing the right things. There is a trickle-down effect. You have to give those guys credit, they led the way and we stayed with it. There was maybe a three-minute lapse where we got away from it just for a second. Our speed in the game, our possession was good and we got pucks in deep that we got back. We played the way we need to play.”
The Stars next game will be Tuesday night at home against the Winnipeg Jets. They will enjoy three days off before the New Jersey Devils come to town on Saturday night.
12/9 vs Jets 7:30 pm
12/13 vs Devils 7:30 pm