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A Look Back at November

by Erin Chenderlin / Dallas Stars

As the Stars delve into the month of December, where eight home games and five road games await them, it seems appropriate to look back on November and see how Dallas is working to turn around a rough beginning to the 2007-08 season. Entering the month after a 4-5-2 October and with injuries nagging key players like Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov, the Stars knew they had a tough road ahead of them.

Personnel Additions
The Stars welcomed three new additions to the team during the month of November, signing right wing Mark Parrish, bringing back defenseman Darryl Sydor and trading for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson.

Parrish made himself right at home in his first game with the Stars, scoring a hat trick during Dallas’ 5-2 win against Anaheim on November 7. Sydor made his third career appearance with Dallas, starting his first game Nov. 20 against Chicago. Prior to this season, Sydor, a member of the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning team, skated in 649 games with the Stars, scoring 67 goals and recording 254 assists for 321 points. Sydor donned a Stars jersey from 1995 – 2003, and again during the 2006-07 season.

Hutchinson was a late November addition, joining the Stars on Nov. 30 in a trade with Tampa Bay for right wing Lauri Tukonen, currently playing in the Finnish Elite League. In 20 games with Norfolk (AHL) thus far in 2008-09, the 28-year-old Hutchinson posted a goal and 13 assists for 14 points, tied for the team lead in assists and tops among Admirals defensemen in scoring.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Hutchinson said after his first practice with the Stars. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but it was good to get out there today and skate and get into the action a little bit. Everyone in the AHL wants to play in the NHL, so I’m looking to take advantage of my opportunity here.”

Stars Look to Take Momentum on the Road
Dallas earned a much-needed two points over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, a team the Stars seem to have figured out. Since the 1993-94 season, Dallas is 23-4-2 against the Oilers on home ice. With the 4-3 win, the Stars are looking to take that momentum on their two-game Canadian road trip against Calgary and a re-match with the Oilers.

“We learned about Edmonton last night with the win, and hopefully we can take what we learned from that game and use it when we play them again this week,” left wing Loui Eriksson said.

“I don’t think there’s going to be an advantage for either side,” defenseman Stephane Robidas said of the second match-up against the Oilers in three days. “They know what we’re doing on the power play, penalty kill, five-on-five, so it’s the details of the game that are going to be important. They’re a young team, athletic and they’re fast, so we’ve just got to be ready for it.”

Left wing James Neal stressed that the team is not that far down in the standings (currently only four points out of a playoff spot) and that having fun and working together are the keys to stringing some wins together, something Dallas has struggled to do all season.

“We want to put two wins together, and we want to have fun,” he said. “When you’re losing, it’s not fun. The standings are tight – put some wins together and we’re right back in the mix.”

Modano Notches 1,300
Stars center Mike Modano notched his 1,300th career point as Sunday’s game-winning goal against the Oilers to become the 31st player in NHL history to reach the milestone.

“You don’t get to 1,300 points without being a great player and it’s great to see him score such a goal that’s very meaningful for our group right now,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said.

“It’s been a great run and I've been blessed to have been around this long,” Modano said after the win. “The game has been very good to me and I can't ask for a better organization or city than I've had here in Dallas.”

Not necessarily counted on to be the leading point-scorer every night, Modano looks relaxed out on the ice, which seems to be working for him. Modano’s nine goals rank second on the team behind Loui Eriksson (11).

“Most nights he goes out there and has fun,” Tippett said of Modano. “He’s enjoying what he’s doing and he’s getting rewarded for it. He’s been a very good player for us.”

Eriksson Lighting the Lamp, Leading the Way
Left wing Loui Eriksson has been shining for the Stars this season, recording 11 points (six goals, five assists) throughout November for a season total of 19 points and a team-leading 11 goals through 23 games. Currently on a five-game point streak in which he has three goals and four assists, Eriksson credits his teammates, his timing and a little bit of luck for his success so far this season.

“I’ve had the pucks roll the right way for me so far this year,” he said. “My teammates have been able to get the pucks, and I’ve just been in the right place at the right time.”

Eriksson had a career-high 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points last season. On pace to shatter those numbers if he keeps up the production, Eriksson could be looking at close to a 40-goal and 70-point season.

The Stars start off December with back-to-back games against Calgary and Edmonton on Dec. 2 and 3 before returning home to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, Oct. 5 and the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Both games start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for all home games at (214) GO-STARS or by clicking here.
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