The Stars have managed to keep their head above water through some challenging times. The team has played significant time without the services of Brenden Morrow
, Sergei Zubov and Brad Richards. Lately it has been Jere Lehtinen, Toby Petersen
, Mark Parrish and Fabian Brunnstrom who have succumbed to the injury bug.
The Stars got some good news on Monday, as Richards, Lehtinen and Brunnstrom each practiced with the team. All have a chance to play on this current road trip, including Richards – who might be available later in the week.
“Richards is getting closer,” said Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We had a full contingent (of players) today. Brunnstrom and Lehtinen went through a full practice, which was good to see. Both of them are hopefuls for (Tuesday). Richards has a chance at the end of the week possibly.
He has a special brace on and he has been working very hard, on and off the ice. Whenever there is any possibility of him getting out there and being effective he is going to jump in. He is going to go through this week, skate hard and see if he can get adjusted with his brace. If he can get himself to the point where he can contribute the way he has to then he will be good to go.”
The Stars’ trip is not an easy one, by any means. Games in Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose are all challenges, but are also possible opportunities.
“We have a hard road trip ahead of us,” said Tippett. “We just came off two wins so hopefully we can gain some momentum. We are going up against three very good teams that are playing very well right now, so we have no choice but to find ways to get points. That’s where we are in the standings and we have to continue to move up.”
Currently sitting inside the top-8 in the West, the Stars want to maintain their ground and stay ahead in a race that promises to stay tight all the way to the final weekend of the season. The players know the only way to do it is to play as a team and take it one game at a time.
“We are going up against three pretty good teams,” said Mike Ribeiro
. “It will be good for us to stick together and try and win these games. These road trips have been difficult but we are used to it. Everyone knows that we need our best now and the traveling is part of the game.”
Dallas got back on the winning track at home last week, defeating Carolina and Minnesota. It snapped a six-game losing streak at American Airlines Center and could not have come at a better time.
“Getting those two wins was very important for us,” said Ribeiro. “If you are going to get any separation you need to win at home. We had been struggling here but we were able to get those two huge wins.”
The opportunity to get back in the playoffs is there for this team. With just 13 games left, every point is magnified, and every win will be important with possible tie-breakers.
“It has been a long winter here in Texas,” said Marty Turco. “We had our ups and downs. At this point the group has really enjoyed the challenge and the playoffs are right there for us. I think we can get into the playoffs and make some noise, but we have to get in first.”
The coaches are working on maximizing team chemistry on all four lines. Getting some of the injured players back gives Tippett more options and he will surely take advantage of that.
“We are looking at different lineups to find what gives us the best flow,” said Tippett. “Morrison has played well with Modano on his line and Lehtinen obviously has some history with Mo. You have Eriksson with Ribeiro and Otter which has worked well and it would be tough to break that one up. We are going to see if we can find some chemistry there. With the injuries we are going to be a little bit interchangeable but hopefully we can find some chemistry. If today’s practice was any sign, we’re getting there. It was a very strong practice. We looked like we had flow and it’s the first practice we have had in a long time.”