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Morning Skate: Stars focus on power play as they prepare to take on Flames

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars have struggled on special teams recently, and the team will have some new power play units for tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center.

The power play was a focus at this morning’s skate. The Stars are 4-33 (12.1 percent) on the power play over the past 12 games. They were 1-5 Saturday and gave up two shorthanded goals in the 3-1 loss to Colorado.

“First, we don’t want to get scored against,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Our attention and sense of danger wasn’t good at all and obviously getting scored against twice. But our desperation, make sure that the other team, even though that I think the pain we had was self-inflicted, that we don’t allow the other team to create energy off our power play.”

The first unit, which has had four forwards and one defenseman, had two defensemen on it today. It consisted of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Eaves, Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg. The second unit had Antoine Roussel, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Patrick Sharp and Jason Demers.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit, so switching up and trying new things is going to be good for us,” Klingberg said.

Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so it appears he will make his third straight start. Ruff was asked if people should read anything into Niemi getting all three games on the homestand heading into the All-Star break.

“You can read whatever you want,” Ruff said. “It’s whatever you print they get to read.”

The Stars didn’t run lines or defense pairs at this morning’s skate, but it appears they’ll go with the same group of forwards and defensemen as Saturdays’ game against the Avalanche. Travis Moen and Patrik Nemeth skated late, so they are the expected scratches.

This is the Stars’ final game before the break. They have lost five of their past six (1-4-1) and are 2-6-2 in the past ten. They’ll look to head into the break on a winning note. The Stars have played well over the past three games but have lost two of them. Mistakes were costly.

“The biggest thing is to eliminate the big mistakes,” Ruff said. “We handed the other team, although we might have had the energy and we might have had the possession game, we handed the biggest quality opportunities to the opposition. I think that if we eliminate that and take advantage of our high-quality situations, we’ll win a game.”

Karri Ramo will get the start in goal tonight for Calgary. Ramo started Sunday in Carolina and was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on 19 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes. The Flames (21-22-3) are wrapping up a five–game road trip tonight. They are 1-2-1 in the first four games.

Who: Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars

Where: American Airlines Center

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinCody EakinJason Spezza

Antoine RousselMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Esa LindellJyrki Jokipakka

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Jordie Benn (lower body)

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Travis Moen

Conditioning: Jamie Oleksiak

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – David Jones

Sam Bennett – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik

Joe Colborne – Markus Granlund – Jiri Hudler

Josh Jooris – Matt Stajan – Lance Bouma

Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie

Kris Russell – Dougie Hamilton

Deryk Engelland – Dennis Wideman

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Micheal Ferland (upper body)

Scratched: Ladislav Smid, Brandon Bollig, Mason Raymond

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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