After their first road trip of the season, the Dallas Stars return home for one game before heading back out on the road again.
The Stars, who play San Jose at American Airlines Center on Thursday, went 1-2-0 on their just concluded trip. There were some ups and downs as they defeated Winnipeg 4-1 on Friday, lost to Minnesota 5-1 on Saturday and fell to Colorado 3-2 Tuesday night.
“There were some good learning games and there are some things we know as a team that we can fix. At the same time we had some highs,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. “We go into Colorado and put 41 shots on, which is something we really wanted to focus on. I think that was a good bounce back and end to the road trip. We can’t be satisfied with it though because we didn’t get the two points. It’s a building block in the right direction.”
There were a lot of positives to take out of the Colorado game. The Stars outshot the Avalanche 41-26 and pretty much controlled play over the final 40 minutes of the game. Along with the positives, there are some areas to work on as the Stars move forward to Thursday’s game against San Jose and then road games against Los Angeles and Anaheim this weekend.
“I think you’ve got to look at that you’ve got to do some things right to win the game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought in Colorado, we won the special teams battle, we won the faceoff circle, we garnered more of the scoring chances, we twisted the shot clock in our favor, we spent more time in their zone. We just need some secondary scoring. We can turn the game in our direction, but we haven’t been able to get the goal from our secondary guys and that puts a lot of pressure on our top line.”
One key area of concern for the Stars is the turnover issue. Turnovers put the Stars behind early in the game in the 5-1 loss to Minnesota. A turnover gave the Avalanche some life after the Stars had taken the early lead in the game.
“I think at the end of the day we have to understand that puck management is a big thing,” said Dillon. “There are some good players in this league and all they need is that one opportunity or that one little extra second to get a shot off or to get an opportunity. We have to eliminate those and as a team we understand that, and we’re going to correct it.”
The Stars will face a big test in Thursday’s game against the Sharks, who are off to a 6-0-0 start this season.
“What I see there is depth of scoring, three lines that create a lot and a very good power play,” said Ruff. They’re a team – a little bit like Colorado – that has good speed up front and they are getting a little bit of creativity from that back end.”
The Sharks haven’t been just winning, they’ve been winning big. They’ve outscored their opponents 30-9 so far this season.
“They’re a good team. It’s going to be another good test,” said Dillon. “They went into St. Louis –another undefeated team – and spanked them 6-2. They’ve got a lot of firepower up front with (Patrick) Marleau, (Joe) Thornton, (Joe) Pavelski and (Brent) Burns. They are a good team top to bottom. It will be a good test for us and I think we’ll be ready for it.”
*The Stars had an optional practice in Frisco on Wednesday with 15 players on the ice.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who is on injured reserve with a lower body injury, worked out after the practice with goaltending coach Mike Valley. The next couple of days will determine if Lehtonen, who is out for Thursday’s game, could be ready to play this weekend.
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.