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Posted On Thursday, 02.19.2015 / 2:54 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Stars

DALLAS -- The San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars are currently on the wrong side of the cutoff line for the Stanley Cup Playoffs picture in the Western Conference, which makes the game between the former Pacific Division rivals at American Airlines Center on Thursday crucial.

San Jose (29-22-8) is 2-5-2 in its past nine games, including a 5-1 loss at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. The Sharks are currently tied in points with the Los Angeles Kings, but L.A. holds the final wild-card spot in the West by virtue of having played two fewer games. San Jose's recent struggles led coach Todd McLellan to shuffle his lines at morning skate on Thursday.

"It could (help us defensively). We're hoping that," McLellan said. "We've won two of our last nine games with the same group, so it's time to shake things up. We'll see if that gives us an opportunity to be productive. If not, we can always go back."

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Posted On Friday, 02.13.2015 / 2:16 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Stars

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are 1-3-1 in their past five games at American Airlines Center, and with the Florida Panthers visiting Friday in the second game of a back-to-back, Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he would like to see his team capitalize early.

"For me it [the key] is going to be doing the little things really well and that's getting pucks in deep, making sure that we're playing a 200-foot game, the pucks are getting in below the goal line and getting pucks going to the net," Ruff said. "Maybe we're catching them off guard and they're the team that's taking penalties right off the bat."

Dallas has won two straight, including a 5-3 win at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday to close its Eastern Conference road trip at 2-1-0.

The Panthers lost 2-1 at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, their fourth loss in their past five road games (1-4-0). Despite their recent road struggles, Ruff said he knows the Stars will be in for a tough battle against Florida, which is 12-10-6 on the road.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 2:08 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Stars

DALLAS -- With the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars currently on tough stretches, each coach made the morning skate optional in advance of their game Thursday at American Airlines Center.

Dallas (23-19-8) lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, and with the Stars starting a stretch of three games in four days, coach Lindy Ruff wanted to give his players the choice of not skating.

"It's the time of year where this gets a little bit tough. We've been on twice a day and we've got four games in six nights," Ruff said. "I'm going to try to change it up here from game-to-game."

Just over half of the Dallas roster skated, but captain Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin weren't among them. Benn and Seguin played a game of tennis in the hallway near the Stars locker room.

Center Jason Spezza, who missed practice Wednesday with what was termed a maintenance day by Ruff, skated on Thursday and will play.

"Spezza's good. Everybody else is good," Ruff said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 2:26 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Avalanche at Stars

DALLAS -- The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars enter their game Tuesday at American Airlines Center four points out of the second Western Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which makes their game Tuesday, the first of three between them in February, crucial for both teams.

"I'm afraid that [our playoff-like mentality] started like six, seven weeks ago," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Pretty sure it started for them [Colorado] too. When you get that far behind that, it's desperation. We want to keep crawling up and these games against each other are games where you can separate and make up ground."

Dallas (23-19-7), which was won two straight, likely will have veteran left wing Erik Cole back on the ice after he missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury. Cole will skate on the second line, with center Jason Spezza and right wing Ales Hemsky.

"I think that line was going well [before Cole's injury]," Ruff said. "He was really going well. I think he was a big reason why that line was having success; his north/south speed, his physicality. So I'm hoping that he can step right in playing the way he was before he went out."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 2:29 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Bruins at Stars

DALLAS -- When the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars hit the ice at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night, each team shares a common goal; win their final game before the start of the NHL All-Star break, which begins on Wednesday and ends on Jan. 26.

Boston (24-16-6) heads into its first meeting of the season with Dallas after a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, a defeat Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t label a wake-up call.

“We have to understand that we have to be willing to work hard every night. In my mind, they (Columbus) wanted it more than we did and we can’t allow those things to happen,” Julien said. “They (Dallas) have got a chance to get close to a playoff spot and we’re probably going to see the best out of those guys. At the end of the night, it’s which team wants it more than the other. That’s got to be us.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.17.2015 / 1:59 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Stars

DALLAS -- With veteran defenseman Trevor Daley and rookie right wing Brett Ritchie each sidelined with undisclosed injuries, Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff made some tweaks to his lineup ahead of the game at American Airlines Center on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals.

Daley, right wing Ales Hemsky and Ritchie missed practice on Friday, but Hemsky is likely to play in his customary spot on the right side of the second line alongside left wing Erik Cole and center Jason Spezza

With Daley out, David Schlemko, claimed off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 3, is the likely choice to replace Daley alongside Jamie Oleksiak in the Stars' third defensive pairing.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 2:43 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Jets at Stars

DALLAS -- Two nights after making 34 saves in relief of Kari Lehtonen, it appears backup goaltender Anders Lindback will start at American Airlines Center on Thursday for the Dallas Stars against the Winnipeg Jets.

Lindback was first off the ice for Dallas at morning skate and Stars coach Lindy Ruff wouldn't say if he was starting on Thursday, but Lindback said he is prepared to make his sixth start of the season.

"You prepare a little different when you know you are going to be in net. You don't stay as long on the ice (at morning skate)," Lindback said. "I try to approach it the same way because you never know when it is going to happen. You've got to be ready all the time, but obviously is a little different when you know you are going to play."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.13.2015 / 2:56 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Senators at Stars

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars start a three-game homestand Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators on a four-game losing streak (0-2-2), but Dallas coach Lindy Ruff is happy to be home, where the Stars are 8-3-1 in their past 12 on home ice.

"I think it [recent home success] starts with defending," Ruff said. "When you're playing a game that's not loose and you're tight in your own end and you've got people coming back and we're not giving up easy opportunities, it's been our best hockey.

Dallas (18-16-7) captain Jamie Benn (undisclosed), center Vernon Fiddler (lower body) and center Tyler Seguin (illness) missed practice Monday but all three participated in morning skate and at least two of them will play against the Senators.

"They all seem to be doing a lot better so we'll dress an extra guy for warm-up and make sure that everybody's a full go," Ruff said. "A couple that I think ready to go and one that's still in doubt."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 3:02 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Stars

DALLAS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars have each recently been playing some great hockey, which makes the game at American Airlines Center on Tuesday between them a must-watch.

Columbus (17-17-3) is 11-2-1 over its past 14 games and the Blue Jackets will get a nice boost as right wing Cam Atkinson, who has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury, and center Mark Letestu, out the past 28 games with a groin/abdominal issue, will both return against the Stars.

"What I'm expecting is those guys to come in and provide a spark; Cam with his speed and energy and Mark, the way he navigates and thinks his way through the game," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "They make our team better at both ends of the rink."

Atkinson will skate on the right side of the second line alongside left wing Matt Calvert and center Brandon Dubinsky. Letestu will center the fourth line, joining left wing Jeremy Morin and right wing Jared Boll.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.03.2015 / 1:39 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Stars

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars had seven defensemen participate in morning skate at American Airlines Center on Saturday, and 30 minutes after skate ended, Dallas added an eighth by claiming David Schlemko off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.

“You can never have enough defensemen,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “We lost (Sergei) Gonchar (to a trade). We lost Kevin Connauton; Patrik Nemeth’s injured. We’ve lost three defensemen during the course of the season, and we needed to add some depth.”

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Quote of the Day

The last time I did it was 1994 and surprise, 20 years later it’s still working. I don’t do it very much, though. I don’t think I had it. I’m kind of surprised. It was probably because I went to church before the game.

Panthers veteran forward Jaromir Jagr on the move that produced his second goal in a 4-2 victory against the Senators on Sunday
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week