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Ruff: Stars Need to ‘Make a Stand’ on Homestand

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

This season hasn’t started the way the Dallas Stars had hoped, especially on home ice. But they’ll have a chance to turn that around over the next two weeks with an important five-game homestand.

The Stars have games against Carolina, Arizona, Los Angeles, Edmonton, and Minnesota. It’s a big stretch of games as the Stars try to right the ship.

“This will be the biggest point of the season come Tuesday,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve got to make a stand.”

The Stars have had trouble making a stand at home so far this season. They are winless in their last six at home (0-4-2) with the last four losses all coming in regulation. They are 1-4-4 at American Airlines Center. Through Sunday’s games, their six points at home is tied for next to last in the league. Only Buffalo, which has four points, has fewer. The Stars’ .333 home points percentage is second worst in the league behind only the Sabres (.300).

Six of the eight games the Stars have dropped at home have come by one goal, and four have come beyond regulation. They’ve struggled in the third period, giving up leads and coming up on the wrong side when the game is tied in the final frame.

“It’s going to take all 20 guys, and we’re going to have to get back to doing the little things right,” said Stars forward Vernon Fiddler. “There are a lot of frustrated guys in here, but we have to stick together and keep moving forward.”

Despite the home woes and the 6-8-4 start to the season, the Stars are still just five points out of a playoff spot with a lot of hockey to be played. But the Stars are feeling the heat to get things on track, especially at the American Airlines Center where they finished with the 10th best record in the league last season (23-11-7).

“It’s desperation time,” Fiddler said. “We’ve really got to take care of business at home. We can set ourselves up here and get back in this race with a good homestand.”

The Stars have had a tough schedule. Hockeyreference.com has it ranked as the toughest schedule in the NHL so far this season. On paper, this homestand doesn’t look as tough with three of the five teams – Carolina, Arizona and Edmonton – below .500. But Carolina has turned things around since a dismal start and Arizona has won five of eight games. The Oilers have been struggling, but their last three losses all have been by one goal.

Regardless of the opponents, the Stars have to be better at home, where they have found ways to give away points so far this season.

“We’ve got a terrible record at home. We’ve got to make it hard for teams to come in and earn those points,” said captain Jamie Benn.

“Good teams are great at home,” said defenseman Alex Goligoski. “Until we can work our way back in it and get some home wins, we are going to be just another team.”

Notes: Connauton on waivers

*The Stars placed defenseman Kevin Connauton on waivers Monday. Connauton, who has two assists in eight games this season, has been a healthy scratch in seven of the last eight games.

*The Stars had a scheduled day off Monday.

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.

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