Stars coach Lindy Ruff rolled out some new line combinations at Saturday morning’s practice in Frisco. Whether you’ll see those combinations in Sunday’s game against the Ottawa Senators is still to be determined.
At Saturday’s practice, Tyler Seguin centered Ray Whitney and Alex Chiasson. Cody Eakin had Jamie Benn and Valeri Nichushkin on his wings. Ruff said he’s still mulling over his options, which means we’ll find out what he decides just prior to Sunday afternoon’s game.
“Our road record hasn’t been good, and it’s a look today that we’ll discuss on our plane ride,” Ruff said after Saturday’s practice. “The only thing you can do is give guys a different look, take a look at it in practice and see what you think. We may make one or two more adjustments before tomorrow. It wasn’t that we did a lot of line rush stuff today, it was a little bit of special teams and zone time to get a feel. I can tell you that the way if we play the way we did through the second and third, the lines looked fine last night. But if we start the way we did the other night I don’t think it has anything to do with the way we put the lines together.”
Ruff juggled his lines Friday night after the Stars got off to a slow start, using several different combinations.
“Lindy’s a guy that makes adjustments as he sees fit, whether it is in practice or in games,” Seguin said. “Last game I played with (Erik) Cole on my right, Whitney, Val and finished with Pevs (Rich Peverley). You’ve just got to go out there and do your job and trust that the guy next to you is doing his.”
Seguin said the Stars are leaning a little too much on goaltender Kari Lehtonen right now, and need to start getting more contributions throughout the lineup.
“I just feel we’re leaving Lehts out there to dry a little bit. I know he loves being the main guy and taking control of games, but you need other guys to step up,” he said. “In this league, there are some games you need to have all four lines rolling. Those are the games that are team wins. You watch the Boston-Pittsburgh game the other night, that’s where we need to get – full playoff hockey, four lines rolling, everyone forechecking, going crazy and different guys stepping up at different times.”
Garbutt ready to return
On Friday night Stars forward Ryan Garbutt served the final game of his five game suspension for charging Anaheim forward Dustin Penner on Oct. 20. Garbutt is eligible to return for Sunday’s game against Ottawa.
“I am anxious to get back in there,” Garbutt said. “I am glad we had a bunch of games in a row so it went by a little bit faster. I am definitely looking forward to getting back in there.”
Garbutt might have had his best game of the season in that game against Anaheim. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Garbutt is an effecitve role player for the Stars.
“He’s got good speed and he’s a good role player for us. Again, he has to stay out of the penalty box,” Ruff said. “His penalty killing to that point was good. We’ve been using three sets and he’s become a good role guy for us in that sense and his speed is something that can really back teams off. On the road, you need all four lines, you need your role guys and he is one guy that can help.”
Gonchar faces former teammates in Ottawa
Sunday’s game in Ottawa will be a homecoming of sorts for Sergei Gonchar, who played the previous three seasons with the Senators. Playing against a former team is nothing new to Gonchar, who has done it a few times in his career.
“Obviously, it is very unusual the first time,” Gonchar said. “It’s your teammates you just played with, your friends that you made over the last three years. It’s going to be unusual at first, but it’s part of the business and you have to adjust so we can move forward.”
Gonchar got off to a sluggish start this season, but Stars coach Lindy Ruff likes what he has seen from Gonchar since he has been paired with Trevor Daley.
“If you look at Sergei’s play the last four or five games, it seems like he is finding some rhythm, I think he has some chemistry,” Ruff said. “I think breaking the (Gonchar-Alex Goligoski) pair up, it may be as simple as breaking them up. It wasn’t a good pair, it wasn’t going good for them. I think Goose’s game has really come along, too.”
“It was a slow start. We didn’t play as well as expected, me included,” said Gonchar. “It seems like lately we’ve been playing better. If we play for 60 minutes like we did in the third (Friday night) then we are going to win some hockey games. It’s just a matter of putting those things together and being consistent, I think that is what we are missing.”
“On the offensive side, we’ve got to get more guys kicking goals in. We need Val (Nichushkin). Val has had some great opportunities, but you can’t stand here and talk about great opportunities because they don’t count. We need (Rich) Peverley scoring, we need Val scoring. I think when that happens our game will look a lot better.”
-Stars coach Lindy Ruff following Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Colorado
Stars practice lineup
Ray Whitney – Tyler Seguin – Alex Chiasson
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Rich Peverley
Ryan Garbutt – Shawn Horcoff – Erik Cole
Brenden Dillon – Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley – Sergei Gonchar
Alex Goligoski – Jordie Benn
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.