Like every other team vying for a spot in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they’re not busy preparing for a game or playing one, the players and coaches of the Dallas Stars are engaging in an activity common this time of year -- scoreboard watching.
With the playoff race in the Western Conference as tight as it’s ever been and each game carrying with it huge implications from a postseason standpoint, whether it’s after a game or on an off day, Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan and his players are definitely keeping a watchful eye on the other goings on in the West race.
“It’s difficult to get the coaches to stop watching the scoreboard. I’m addicted to it,” Gulutzan admitted before Monday’s game in Calgary. “I told myself two weeks ago I wasn’t going to watch it, but it’s not happening.”
And his players are no different. They too are doing their share of scoreboard watching.
“You look on the Internet or if you’re on the road, guys will check their phones to see what other teams did and you pay attention. Maybe Michael Ryder
might be the only guy that’s not really sure what the standings are. But other than that, I think everybody knows,” Stars winger Adam Burish
However, the man who currently leads the Stars with a career-high 33 goals this season, Michael Ryder
, does beg to differ with Burish’s statement.
“Well, I actually do [keep up with it],” Ryder said. “I don’t really talk about it too much. I just kind of know where we are and where we sit. I’m not the big talkative guy around the room but I know where we sit. I look at it pretty much every day.”
Teammate Loui Eriksson
agrees with Burish that every player in the Stars’ room along with the coaching staff know exactly where the club currently sits and also what the other clubs they’re battling with for one of those final playoff spots in the West are doing. “For sure, everyone knows how tight the conference is. Every game, it seems like it’s really tight and it’s a lot of overtime games and shootouts,” Eriksson said.
But while the first-year Stars head coach admits he and the rest of his staff do keep up with the other happenings in the West race, they also realize something pretty important about scoreboard watching-all that matters in the end is what your club does on the ice.
“I think any time you start worrying about those other teams, they keep winning. In our locker room, all we’re talking about is points. We’ve got to get points in every game we play,” Gulutzan said. “You can’t look around and watch scoreboards. We’ve got help ourselves.”
And that’s clearly a philosophy echoed by his players.
“You definitely look after games to see how the other teams have played but there’s not much we can do. It’s all in our own hands,” Eriksson said.
Ryder adds: “The main thing it usually just comes down to what we have to do out there and just take it one game at a time. Every game means something,” he said. “We can’t afford to give games away.”
Burish even took Ryder’s comments one step further, saying that seeing how the other games have played out before the Stars even hit the ice can often be a strong motivator for them to keep pace with the same clubs they’re battling it out with for a spot in the postseason.
“I think it’s good. I think it’s a motivation thing, where you know every night you’ve got to bring your best because if we lose one, Phoenix wins one or maybe LA or whatever we go from third to eighth or ninth with one game. So every game you’ve got to bring your best,” Burish said. “You’ve got to bring your best focus and be ready to do whatever you can do to try and find a win to try and hang onto the spot that you have.”
Now that the Stars have just six games remaining in the regular season, not only will they focus on getting as many points as possible in this final push toward a possible playoff berth, but the players and coaches will also continue to see how the very clubs they’re battling with in the West standings continue to fare. It’s just that time of year, one where scoreboard watching is the norm for coaches, players and even fans.