The Dallas Stars participated in the sixth-longest game in Stanley Cup Playoffs history last night in Vancouver, but you wouldn't know it if you saw the group this afternoon at General Motors Place.The coaches had planned an optional practice today, assuming many of their tired warriors would opt to rest their legs after nearly seven full periods of hockey barely 12 hours ago. They were surprised (and somewhat not) to find nearly three-quarters of their upbeat bunch lacing up their skates to participate in a spirited practice session.
"The attitude in the locker room today was excellent," said Head Coach Dave Tippett. "Guys came in here and were saying What can I do today to be ready for tomorrow?' You could see it in how many guys went on the ice today, that this team likes to do things the hard way. They are getting ready for the challenge that lies ahead of us tomorrow."
Some of the Stars' time-on-ice figures last night were almost staggering, but included in today's practice group were: Sergei Zubov, who logged a game-high 55:08 minutes last night; Jere Lehtinen (46:49); Trevor Daley (45:51); Mike Modano (45:10); Mattias Norstrom (45:08); and Darryl Sydor (43:00).
"The room seemed very upbeat today and there was a sense among that guys that it would be good to get out on the ice and get back to work, even those who skated high minutes," said Modano. "We are disappointed about last night's outcome, but we know we need to have a short memory and let that one go. We have to move on, regroup and get better so we can get the split. That's what we came for and we are going to try and create some momentum and go home 1-1."
Despite the disappointing end to the four-overtime thriller that lasted until 12:32 a.m. Pacific time (and a bleary-eyed insomniac, Havoc-requiring 2:32 a.m. Dallas time), the club feels there are many positives and many reasons for optimism to be taken from Game One.
"Vancouver obviously got the overtime goal that we were looking for, and there was a good deal of disappointment and frustration, but there are so many positives that we can take from Game One," said Philippe Boucher, who logged 51:10 minutes of ice time last night. "We need to keep doing those positive things and carry those over to Game Two. We know what we want to do and we need to keep doing the little things that will lead to success. A lot of guys played a lot of minutes, but we are using today as a day to re-energize and get ready for another battle tomorrow night."
Marty Turco put forth an outstanding effort in Game One, stopping 51 of the 56 shots he faced, and is looking forward to the club's opportunity to even the series tomorrow night. "I think physically speaking, I felt great and had a great recovery today and I'm ready to go tomorrow night," said Marty Turco. "The reality is that it's just one game and we feel we deserved to win. Vancouver is a good team and it's not going to be easy, but we know we can beat these guys and we look forward to Game Two."
"It's going to be a long series and we knew things were going to be tight," said Sydor. "We can't worry about what happened yesterday. All we can do is get ready for tomorrow. We felt good last night and we'll keep pushing and doing what we can to prepare for tomorrow."
Many of these Dallas Stars went through a five-overtime marathon against Anaheim in Game One of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals, so from a physical standpoint, the club is confident its conditioning will see it through.
"A lot of us were a part of a five-overtime game against Anaheim a few years ago, so we know what to expect a little bit," said Modano. "You're going to wear down a little and there's going to be some soreness when you play the equivalent of two games in one night. We've been getting as much fluids into our systems as possible, and we are going to get some rest and some food, and we'll be ready to go tomorrow night."
"Although the outcome wasn't what we wanted, we talked today about some of the positive things we did last night," said Tippett. "We have to find a way to keep doing those things to come out on top and we have to keep pounding away. We can't dwell on what happened last night, we have to keep battling and I really like the way this group is responding."