The Dallas Stars held an optional practice in Frisco on Friday. Stars coach Lindy Ruff talked with the media following the session. Here is what he had to say.
What is the message to the team?
“Again, it is starting with one game. We didn’t have much of a push again in the third period (Thursday). I thought we got a little bit on our heels, and we stayed there. The message is to get back on our toes. It isn’t working the way you are playing. We played a real good second period. We had the bulk of the chances in that period, but the third period has been our demise this year.”
How can you take spurts of good play and turn them into full game efforts?
“It starts with the process. It starts with the little plays that lead up to the real good plays in the game. It is eliminating that one careless turnover, getting the pucks in behind the D. When we are using our speed, using the north-south – no different than the [Colton] Sceviour goal – getting pucks behind their D and creating foot races, that’s our game. When we stall out in the neutral zone, go east-west, that’s not our game.”
How do you assess the work the coaching staff has done?
“It hasn’t been good enough.”
Has it been because of execution?
“It hasn’t been good enough because we haven’t executed to our potential and I am not happy with the job I’ve done.”
Is that pushing buttons with individuals?
“We’ve got a team – and I’ve discussed this – that is fragile because sometimes it might be the goaltending, and you get a little bit scared. As a coaching staff, when too many goals are going in you are trying to defend better because you are trying to take a few chances out of the goalie’s hands. That type of game leads to a lot safer game, which is hard to play. Our team doesn’t play that game very well.”
You talked about players having career years last season. Were they put in the right position or were those just anomalies that they had career years?
“We had career years because we did the right things. Right now, we are getting caught on the offensive side of the puck. It’s been a disease since the beginning of training camp. We’ve played too much one-on-one hockey. We’ve had some great games where it doesn’t have anything to do with that, but we still leaned on a little bit of offense that cost us a great goal in some situations. That falls on the coaching staff.”
Is that situational because you are behind?
“Those are games we are leading I am talking about. Sometimes I think we are worried more about numbers than we are worried about wins.”
On the team’s health and possible lineup changes for Saturday.
“We’ll see. We had a few guys that were going to be maintenance. We decided we’d get in a light skate tomorrow, which is different for a 6 o’clock game. We had two real late nights, late night getting into Detroit and late night getting home last night. We thought the best was to bring them in and have off-ice or a little bit of on-ice and go with a game-day skate.”
How do you look at Kari Lehtonen’s game?
“With any team it starts there. It just does. It starts there, and it breeds confidence into your team. I felt last year and I still feel this year that he is the guy that will get it done for us.”
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.