The Dallas Stars hit the All-Star Break on a high note following a gritty 1-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks. The oft-injured team should welcome the chance to get away from the game for five days. The win snapped their 0-4-1 slide and the Stars now find themselves with a 25-21-2 record, tied with Phoenix and Calgary for 10th in the Western Conference, three points back of Minnesota who is in the eighth and final playoff spot.
“That was huge,” said goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 27 saves to earn his first shutout of the season and 18th of his career. “We talked about it a little before; we really wanted to give a good effort and give everything because there’s lots of time to rest now and enjoy our families.”
Several key players are still nursing injuries, including All-Star Jamie Benn (Appendectomy) and Captain Brenden Morrow (Neck). The break will enable the Stars to heal up and come back stronger when the season resumes on February 1 in Anaheim.
“I’ll just get a good rest and try to recover and rejuvenate and get ready for a big stretch in February,” noted defenseman Stephane Robidas, who missed six games with a foot injury in late December.
“I got a couple little nagging injuries it’ll be nice to get rid of, so it couldn’t have come at a better time,” said winger Eric Nystrom of the break. “It’s good to get a couple of days off, for sure.”
A number of players will be leaving the Metroplex during their time off, taking advantage of a rare opportunity to get away from hockey, and the club’s dogfight for a playoff spot.
“I’m going away with the family, the whole family, we’re going away to the Bahamas,” Robidas revealed. “So I’ll spend some time with the kids and just enjoy ourselves.”
“I’m just going to rest for a couple of days, and maybe go somewhere for another couple of days,” added Lehtonen. “I haven’t really thought about it, it’s just to stay away from the rink. It’s been a long year and this is good, it’s kind of halfway and you get a rest and then you get to go to work again.”
Gulutzan pointed out that he encouraged the players to get away and escape mentally from the grind of the playoff chase, but also emphasized that he expects them to return fired up and ready to roll when practice resumes.
“We’re in a battle for a playoff spot,” said Gulutzan. “You don’t know what’s going to happen long-term, but it only looks like possibly one or two spots are (up for grabs). We’re in a battle to get one of those spots and it’s going to be a telling month (February) for us. We haven’t made any excuses for ourselves and we have no excuses coming back – we’ll be healthy, we’ll have Bennie and everyone back and rested and we have to make a run at it”.