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Veterans Cogliano, Spezza aim to turn fast chemistry into goals

If their play over the past month is any indication, the potential for more is there

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The chemistry between Jason Spezza and Andrew Cogliano is obvious.

The results? Not so much … yet.

But if the play of the wily veterans since Cogliano was acquired in a trade from the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 14 has been any indication, the future is looking pretty good for this pair.

"I think we've been OK, but this is where you want to get better," Cogliano said. "We want to add more to the scoring, and we want to be just more complete players. We think we have more to give."

In seven games since joining the Stars, Cogliano has one goal, one assist, nine shots on goal and is even while averaging 12:20 in time on ice. Spezza, meanwhile, has one assist, nine shots on goal and is plus-1.

They have been helpful in forging a 5-2-0 record in that span, but not quite the dynamic game-changers they have been in the past. Still, there is a lot of potential for more there, and both players can see it.

Video: MIN@DAL: Cogliano deflects in first goal as a Star

"We know each other well, and I think that helps. There's some familiarity there," Spezza said. "I think it's a great fit."

Both players hail from the Toronto area, with Spezza 35 and Cogliano 31. Both are smart guys who like to talk a lot.

"We talk quite a bit during the game, and it does help," Spezza said. "It feels like we're working together out there. If I do something he doesn't like, he'll tell me about it and we'll make an adjustment. And it's the same if I want to do something different."

Spezza said he likes how Cogliano approaches the game. He is a fast skater who attacks aggressively and also defends responsibly.

"He's a straight-line guy, he's always above pucks," Spezza said. "We're allowed to play a game that we're comfortable with."

Cogliano is also a straight shooter when he talks hockey, and said he is asking Spezza to use his shot more.

Video: DET@DAL: Spezza intercepts pass and lights the lamp

"I'm always telling him to shoot," Cogliano said. "I'm a big believer in volume. I think if you get volume, even if they're not all perfect, you improve your chances. And I think when you get a couple of shots early in a game, it gives you confidence. You feel like you're close even if you're not scoring, so I definitely want us shooting the puck."

Both can use their different experiences to make the line better.

Spezza is at 1,040 games with Ottawa and Dallas. He's been with the Stars since 2014. Cogliano has 919 games with Edmonton, Anaheim and Dallas. He spent the past nine seasons with the Ducks, and admitted this trade has been a little more difficult than he first thought it would be.

"It's good to stay with someone, I think that's healthy. Then, you can build off of it," Cogliano said of the fact he has played beside Spezza most of the time. "That's a good situation for a new guy, because it's probably a little more difficult than I thought changing teams in the middle of the year. I've been in the same place for nine years, so I'm changing a lot of routines here."

And yet, sometimes change can be good. Spezza struggled last season under head coach Ken Hitchcock. This season, he is seeing more minutes and more success under coach Jim Montgomery -- and playing beside Cogliano is helping that.

"I definitely feel more relaxed," Spezza said. "Monty is starting to trust us a little bit. That trust factor gets us out there more, and we create more, and it just builds."

Video: NSH@DAL: Spezza hammers home PPG after being honored

Montgomery said he likes what he's seen so far.

"They're both great pros -- their attention to detail, their preparation, their attitudes are infectious. And I think it really has helped our overall consistency," Montgomery said. "Because they're pros, everyone else is watching and learning. The more you have players like that, the more it goes through everybody in the lineup."

Montgomery said simply having a player who is not shy to shout instructions on the ice makes a big difference.

"One thing Cogliano has added is communication, especially on D-zone breakouts," Montgomery said. "It's hard to get forwards to demand pucks from defensemen, but he does it all of the time, and it leads to quicker exits from our own end."

And if they exit their own end more quickly, well that's only going to lead to more time in the offensive zone and more chances to shoot the puck. And if they shoot the puck, maybe those goals and assists will start piling up.

"This is the time of the year where if you find a way to score some big goals, it makes a difference," Cogliano said. "So we want to continue to do the good things, and then also do a little more, too."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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