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'Behind the eight-ball,' Stars understand importance of homestand

Montgomery says the team is taking a 'glass half-full' approach to getting out of its early 2-7-1 hole

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Stars (2-7-1) vs. Senators (1-5-1)

7:30 p.m., American Airlines Center

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM


DALLAS -- The Stars start a stretch of six-of-seven at home and play a team with a worse record than themselves, so there is a real need for victory here.

Stars coach Jim Montgomery said the team understands its situation and wants to climb out of this hole one game at a time. This homestand is the perfect opportunity to do that.

"That's the position we've taken … is glass half-full," Montgomery said of his 2-7-1 team.

"Everybody goes through a stretch where you're 2-7-1 or 3-6-1, and you're going to have a stretch where you're 7-2-1. That's what we're going to have to do just to get back to .500, and then we'll have to keep grinding the rest of the way."

That said, each game has to be taken in its own time.

Video: Montgomery says Stars need to 'stick with game plan'

The Stars need to fix a lot of the things that have been bothering them. They were outshot 39-16 in Philadelphia Saturday, but won 4-1 because they took advantage of a key power-play goal, were opportunistic in their scoring, and pushed scoring opportunities to the outside for the Flyers.

They have to apply those elements again, and also work to get better in their weak areas.

"That's the one that concerns us all right now," Montgomery said of the meeting with Ottawa, which will technically be the team's 11th game in 19 days with flights between 10 of the games. "Because after a long road trip, usually that first game at home, you get back and it's a little bit of a sluggish start. But we can't have anymore sluggish starts.

"We're behind the eight-ball."

Dallas will become the first team to 11 games this season and has arguably played the toughest schedule in the league so far.


What to watch

After a poor play on the first goal of the game 43 seconds in against Philadelphia Saturday, John Klingberg was benched. He played 17:53 in the game, his fewest minutes since Valentine's Day last year.

Klingberg has led the Stars in time on ice for the past four seasons, and averaged 24:32 last season. He is routinely the leader in puck possession and makes not only the team's even strength play go, but dominates time on the power play.

"He's like our team. When things don't go your way, you don't manage the game right," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said, adding that Klingberg sometimes tries to do too much. He compared him to the old San Diego Chargers and their aerial circus under quarterback Dan Fouts.

"Instead of being Tom Brady and looking for six first downs and an 80-yard drive that leads to a touchdown, he's looking for Dan Fouts' aerial -- let's get the 50-yard bomb to (John) Jefferson or (Charlie) Joiner -- and that leads to more interceptions."

Klingberg said he understands his issues and says he just needs to start playing better hockey.

Video: Gurianov ready to make impact during Stars' homestand

Since joining the Stars in 2014, Klingberg is tops on the team in SAT (shot attempt differential at even strength) at plus-718. Tyler Seguin is second on the Stars at plus-465. Klingberg also leads the team in plus-minus at plus-45 in that span.

Klingberg currently is tied for last on the team in plus-minus at minus-7 and is minus-12 in SAT, which is 17th on the Stars.

"I can do a lot better," he said. "We can do a lot better as a team and I can do a lot better as an individual. My game has got to be better."

Asked if he thinks he is forcing plays and making bad mistakes, Klingberg said no.

"I don't think I'm making dumb mistakes. That's something that happens when I get really frustrated and I'm chasing the game," he said. "I don't feel I'm chasing the game right now, I just feel like I'm playing slow. I can move the puck quicker."


Khudobin to start in net; Bishop, Seguin OK after storms

Ben Bishop's home was damaged in the tornadoes Sunday night, so he was excused from the morning skate. Montgomery said they had already determined that Anton Khudobin would start Monday's game. Khudobin is 7-0-1 in his career against the Senators with a 2.10 GAA and .938 save percentage. Bishop will be on the bench as the backup.

Tyler Seguin's old home was also damaged in the storm. Seguin has moved into a new home, but he still owns the old one and had it up for sale.

Video: Benn reacts to Dallas-area storms, expresses support

The personnel is expected to stay the same from Saturday's game, but it looks like Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov will swap lines. Radulov will drop down to play on a line with Mattias Janmark and Radek Faksa. Radulov did not have a shot attempt in 15:02 of ice time against the Flyers while playing on a line with Jason Dickinson and Tyler Seguin.

"Sometimes in your mind you think you're working, but you watch the video and you see you're not moving your feet and getting in the right spots supporting pucks," Montgomery said. "Rads has the puck on his stick, but when was the last time you saw him protect the puck, will his way to the net front, draw a penalty or find Seggy on the back door. That's Rads at his best, and he's got to put himself in those positions."


By the numbers



That was the average shift length for Stars center Roope Hintz in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia Saturday. Hintz is centering Jamie Benn and Corey Perry, which could be the team's top line, but he played 14:17 total ice time in that game. However, his 26 shifts were second among forwards on the team that night.



That's the point total for Corey Perry in 16 career games against the Senators. Perry has seven goals, nine assists and is plus-11 in his career vs. Ottawa.



That's the amount of shots on goal against the Stars have yielded in first periods this season. They have taken 81. Dallas has led after the first period just three times in 10 games.


He said it

"He has the most number of shifts among our forwards most games, but when you work like he does and skate like he does, your average shift length is 35 to 36 seconds. He's been our most productive forward. He works, he brings it every shift. Now, I want to play him more minutes, I want him to play to 18 minutes. I'm trying to get him out there as much as possible, but the minutes and seconds we're getting are extremely effective."

-- Montgomery on the fact Hintz played just 14:17 last game. Hintz leads the team in points (seven) and goals (six), but is 10th on the team in average time on ice at 16:28.


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn - Roope Hintz - Corey Perry

Jason Dickinson - Tyler Seguin - Joe Pavelski

Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Alexander Radulov

Andrew Cogliano - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov

Miro Heiskanen - John Klingberg

Andrej Sekera - Esa Lindell

Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun

Anton Khudobin

Ben Bishop

Scratched: C Rhett Gardner, D Joel Hanley.

Injuries: LW Blake Comeau (lower body), D Roman Polak (sternum), D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back).

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 and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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