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Stars Head Into Early Break on Positive Note

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The season just got started for the Dallas Stars, and they already find themselves having to take a break. But as goaltender Kari Lehtonen aptly pointed out after Saturday night’s game, it’s always better to take a break on a positive note.

“It’s easier to have a few days off after a win instead of a loss,” Lehtonen said.

The Stars, who had the day off on Sunday, head into a stretch of five days between games on the heels of a solid performance in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at American Airlines Center.

“It makes for a real great atmosphere,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “You start with how much work we put into the game; it is a good place to be.”

It’s a better place than where they were after Thursday’s 4-2 loss in the season opener against Florida. The Stars were better in a lot of areas in the victory over the Capitals, and that’s something they can build on moving forward.

“I think with opening night sometimes there’s, for whatever reason, [players] trying to do too much and just go, go—and you just don’t let the game come to you and play the game,” Stars forward Erik Cole said after Saturday’s win.” So I think we settled in a bit better tonight, but we also competed a lot harder than we did the other night. That’s one thing that was consistent through our games in the preseason. We brought the compete level, the energy and anytime you outwork a team chances are you are going to have success. Tonight was a much better job of that and hopefully we’ll build off that.”

The Stars don’t play again until Friday, when they’ll be in Winnipeg to kick off a three-game road trip that also will include games at Minnesota (Saturday) and Colorado (Tuesday). The timing of the time off isn’t ideal, but the Stars will try to make the most of it.

“It’s unfortunate to have this early in the season because you want to keep going,” Cole said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to work on some things, iron out some kinks, talk about some system stuff and be ready to go for a little bit of a team bonding road trip.”

Puck possession

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Stars want to be a puck possession team under coach Lindy Ruff. It’s still early, but after the first two games advanced statistics say they are doing well in that department.

Through Saturday’s games, the Stars ranked eighth in the league in Close Game Fenwick, a measure of puck possession.

The Stars’ rating is 55.0 percent, which means they are possessing the puck 55 percent of the time when the game is close or tied.

Last season, the Stars’ Close Game Fenwick rating was 47.3 percent, which ranked 23rd in the league.

Close Game Fenwick measures the number of shots directed at the net –including those that miss and excluding those that are blocked – only when the game is tied or within one goal in the first two periods. It eliminates those situations when a team may be protecting a lead and shot totals could be skewed.

The statistics come from

The week ahead

Monday-Thursday: Practice in Frisco

Friday: Stars at Winnipeg

Saturday: Stars at Minnesota

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 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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