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For Faksa, Cogliano, Comeau, consistency becoming way of life

While the Stars have shuffled their lineup for various reasons this season, the 'FCC' line aims to stick together

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas -- Jim Montgomery has had to shuffle his lines a lot this season, sometimes because of injuries and sometimes because of performance.

But the one line the head coach tries to stick with more than any other is center Radek Faksa with wingers Andrew Cogliano and Blake Comeau. That group was a fixture last season, especially in the playoffs, and has been quickly reassembled in the past two games.

Comeau was hit in the face with a puck in the first game of the season and then injured his knee when he fell awkwardly to the ice. He was out for Games 2-15, and during that stretch, Cogliano and Faksa were just sort of OK. But since Comeau came back for Game 16, the trio has been electric. Faksa had two goals and seven shots on goal Tuesday in a 4-1 win over Colorado. And Cogliano had five shots on goal last Saturday in a 2-1 win over Montreal.

"There's a comfort level there," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "So you get excited to play, because you know you're going to be able to be in the same spots and know where everybody is."

Video: Montgomery gives injury updates prior to road trip

Both Cogliano and Faksa said they felt the energy from Comeau's return. By simply getting the band back together, all three players were able to maximize their performance and execution.

"It felt good, it felt right," Cogliano said. "I know how Comeau is going to play. He plays in straight lines and he plays predictable, so you know that when you're out there with another winger and he's doing the same thing you do, you know where he's going to be."

While Faksa added: "It was nice to have him back because he works so hard and he makes everyone else's job so much easier. We played together so long last year that I do think we have good chemistry. It comes together pretty quickly when he comes back."

The group is not known for its scoring. Faksa last season led the way with 15 goals and 15 assists. That was down from the 17 goals and 16 assists he had the year before. Cogliano had three goals and three assists in 32 games after a mid-season trade from Anaheim. He had 12 goals and 23 assists in 2017-18 with the Ducks. Comeau tallied seven goals and 11 assists in 77 games last year. He had 13 goals and 21 assists in 2017-18 with Colorado.

This year, Faksa has four goals and two assists in 17 games, while Cogliano has just two assists in 17 games. Comeau has no points in three games.

Video: COL@DAL: Faksa backhands in rebound for PPG

"It's something we want to do to help the team," Cogliano said when asked about chipping in goals. "But we just want to play right, play smart, and then the rest will follow."

While some might call them a fourth line, Faksa actually plays 16:15 a game and helps drive energy at even strength and on special teams. That means their shifts can be productive even if they don't score. They can either make it very difficult for another team's best players or they simply can get in hard on the forecheck, cycle hard in the offensive zone, and then hand off momentum to the next line.

That's what has happened in the past two games, as Comeau has created a lot of hitting, and that has spread to his linemates. As a result of the entire line playing physically, the rest of the team gets a boost in mental energy.

"He's skating a lot and hitting a lot and talking a lot, and all of that helps us," Faksa said. "It gets us into the game, and makes the job much easier."

Cogliano said Comeau's return is important for the team psyche.

"I think he adds to the emotion of the game," Cogliano said. "He's very well liked in the room and guys like to have him back and playing in games. He was physical early in that first game back and I definitely think that helped set a tone.

Video: COL@DAL: Faksa on his two-goal effort in win over Avs

"We want to be a line that's hard to play against."

If they continue to do that, Montgomery sees no reason to break them up. In fact, he said he likes whenever any line shows chemistry.

"You don't want to keep changing them, but sometimes you have to," he said. "But, yeah, anytime a line gives you a reason to keep them together, you want to do that."

And the line of Cogliano, Faksa, Comeau would love to stay together.

"In this game, when you continually do the right things, you're going to get rewarded," Cogliano said. "I think, as a line, we try hard to continually do the right things."

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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