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Stars Coach Looking for Strong Start

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

Despite his team opening the 2008-09 season with back-to-back games, Dallas Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett is not worried. The Stars open the season at home Friday night against Columbus and will jump on the team plane directly following the game and head to Nashville to face the Predators on Saturday.

One reason Tippett isn’t worried about Saturday’s game is because it will be the second in a back-to-back series for Nashville as well, as they play in St. Louis on Friday.

“We actually have a lot of back-to-back games this month,” Tippett said. “But it’s good. It will get us playing.”

This series is one of four sets of back-to-back games for the Stars in October, and all of them have at least one game on the road. Throughout the season, Dallas will play 15 sets of back-to-back games, with only one having both games at home (Feb. 28 vs. Anaheim and March 1 vs. Pittsburgh).

With the season opener less than 48 hours away, Tippett used Thursday morning’s practice to get a good look at his team, whittled down from 48 players at the beginning of training camp to a set roster of 24. He has a lineup ready for Opening Night and said he has no plans of altering it for Saturday’s game.

“We have two games in two days and we will prepare for them just like we normally do, and we’ll be ready,” he said. “Once you get past the first game, you focus on the next. There are no plans to adjust lineups.”

The lineup on the ice Friday will no doubt have a tough road ahead of them this season. Picked by many to win the Pacific Division and even by some to win the Stanley Cup, the Stars have definitely found themselves on people’s radar screens. Tippett said he does not expect that to change anything around the team or the organization.

“Last year we were not picked to do anything,” he said. “We thought we were a good team and just because people are picking us this year does not change anything. We still need to play the games.”

Tippett said the team has a lot to focus on besides the hardware it hopes to bring home at the end of the season. At the top of the list is getting the younger players up to speed and getting the team to play as a unit. Tippett also said he wants to create a strong identity within the team and the locker room and, above all, win hockey games.

“It does not matter if you are picked to win or lose,” he said. “Every day you go out to play hockey games.”

This year marks a bit of history for the Stars organization, as it was 10 years ago that the Stars took home Lord Stanley’s Cup. There is no doubt that fans, management and players alike are all looking for a bit of history repeated.

“This organization has always had high expectations, and I hope that never changes,” Tippett said. “That pushes people – when you have a tradition of winning a Stanley Cup and always making the playoffs.

“Those are prerequisites of what we are trying to do.”
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