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Stars Look to Get Back on Track

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Mired in their first three game losing streak of the season, the Dallas Stars will try to get back on track Thursday when they take on the New Jersey Devils in Newark.

The Stars, who took Tuesday off, were back at practice Wednesday, trying to get their game in order.

“When you aren’t winning and things aren’t going your way, you have to resort back to work,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “We’ve got to get back to the basics and that starts with working. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”

“We’ve got to get back to the simple stuff, getting pucks in deep, managing the puck a little better,” said defenseman Trevor Daley. “I think that was the theme of the practice today.”

The Stars have given up 18 goals during the three game slide, including a season-high total in Monday’s 7-3 loss at the New York Islanders. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said it might have been the team’s worst game of the season. Issues started to creep into the Stars’ game in losses to Montreal (6-4) and Detroit (5-1) at home at last week.

“The mental mistakes looked a lot like the start of the year where we had some big turnovers that led to goals,” said Ruff. “It wasn’t system stuff, it was just individual errors that really cost us dearly. Obviously we’ve got to clean up those areas.”

This stumble comes on the heels of some of the Stars’ better hockey of the season, a stretch where they put together a seven-game points streak. There are ups and downs over the course of a long season, and Ruff is interested to see how his team handles this bump along the path.

“You want to see how players respond to adversity. It’s easy when things are going good. I want to see how the guys respond to different situations,” said Ruff. “We’ve been a good road team and we’ve got to dig ourselves out of a hole on the road. We’ve been fortunate that some teams around us have lost some games, so we’re still right there.”

Despite no points over their last three games, the Stars haven’t lost a lot of ground in the playoff race, sitting four points out of the final spot. But the focus right now is Thursday’s game, and making sure they put the brakes on this skid.

“It’s three in a row and we’ve got to stop it,” said Daley. “It’s a must-win tomorrow. We need to find a way to get two points.”

Ruff shuffles lines

Hit some bumps on the road and you are bound to change things a little. It appears Stars coach Lindy Ruff is going to do that with his forward lines. Ruff shuffled things for Wednesday’s practice, moving Rich Peverley to right wing on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. He put Erik Cole and Valeri Nichushkin on the wings with center Cody Eakin. Vernon Fiddler centered Ray Whitney and Alex Chiasson. Wingers Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt had Shawn Horcoff as their center.

“I’d like to move Fidds up again. He was playing so well before he got hurt. I’d like to get him in some combination, so I thought we’d take a look at that,” Ruff said. “Pevs has gone good at the middle of the ice, but sometimes you need a little bit of a shakeup. Eakin and Cole have played well for a good stretch of time, and for Eaks I’d like to get him in a more offensive situation.”

Quotable: Tyler Seguin

“I was still disappointed. I know in the end I am still pretty young and am going to have a few more cracks at it, only being 21. There’s a lot of guys they passed over. I am a huge Steve Yzerman fan, have been, and if he doesn’t think I am ready right now then I am not ready.”

- Stars center Tyler Seguin, during an appearance on The Ticket Wednesday afternoon, discussing not being selected for Canada’s Olympic team.

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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