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Monday practice update

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After having Sunday off the Dallas Stars were back on the ice for practice Monday morning in Frisco. A lot of the post-practice talk centered around Saturday’s 6-3 loss in Denver, where the Stars squandered a 3-1 lead and lost 6-3 to the Avalanche.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff talked about defending with passion several times in his chat with the media when discussing what happened Saturday and what he wants to see moving forward.

“Our puck tenacity wasn’t any good, and we didn’t defend with any passion,” he said about the Stars giving up five unanswered goals in Saturday’s loss. “To that point we had been doing a really good job of defending. Even game one (3-0 win over Pittsburgh) we defended really hard. I used the word embarrassment after [Saturday’s] game. I was embarrassed the way we defended, some of our neutral zone stuff, missed assignments. We had five guys deep in the zone when they scored for the game- winning goal. That was unacceptable for what we’ve gone through and tried to play defensively.”

Asked about how he wanted to see the Stars respond to Saturday’s loss, Ruff again focused on defending.

“Again, defend with passion,” he said. “We’ve been working hard at that, blocking shots, getting people in the right places. I didn’t fully expect us to be 100-percent solid, we still have some players that aren’t quite up and running, but you have a responsibility to be in a certain place on the ice to take away a certain lane, and you just have to do your job. We had some missed assignments and those assignments hurt us. We had very few of those in the preseason and game one, and I want us getting back to that again.”

The Stars rolled out some different lines during Monday’s practice. Patrick Eaves moved up to the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Cody Eakin, who had been centering the top line, skated with Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky. Jason Spezza centered Antoine Roussel and Patrick Sharp. Also, Antti Niemi skated very late with goaltending coach Jeff Reese, an indication that Kari Lehtonen could get the nod in net Tuesday vs. Edmonton. But Ruff wasn’t willing to talk about any possible changes with his lineup.

“There have been a lot of discussions, but I am just not up to discussing them,” Ruff said.

Nichushkin struggling

Ruff has mentioned several times recently that not everybody on the Stars is up to speed yet. He was asked Monday if forward Valeri Nichushkin is among those players.

“Yes,” Ruff said. “Val has really been struggling. I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around. He’s got some struggles going. It’s my job to try to get him through his struggles. He’s been fighting the puck a little bit. I think he had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now. His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker. He’s working, he is trying to work. He’s been struggling.”

Mattias ‘quick-strike’ Janmark

Stars rookie Mattias Janmark has made an impression in his first two NHL games, and he has done it early in both games. He scored 1:39 into the first period in the Stars’ 3-0 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, tallying on his first NHL shift and first shot. On Saturday, he scored just 20 seconds into the game.

“Just lucky bounces I guess,” Janmark said. “I got off to a great start in the first game and (in Colorado Saturday) when I saw it was going up the middle of the ice, I knew I would get the puck and get a scoring chance, had a good feeling there. It’s not often you get two lucky goals like that in the first shift. I am glad I got them, and I hope to keep working from it.”

Ruff was asked about using Janmark’s line to begin each period in Saturday’s game against Colorado.

“I think Janmark is a very effective starter,” Ruff quipped, drawing a lot of laughs from the media.

Monday’s practice lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselJason SpezzaPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkCody EakinAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerValeri Nichushkin/Colton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Patrik NemethJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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