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Stars Look to Shore up Defense

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

Saturday’s game vs. Washington was exciting for the fans but wasn’t exactly what the Stars were looking for. Sure, the team salvaged a point in the standings with a sixth attacker goal by Mike Modano that sent the game to overtime, but six goals in the back of their net continued a negative trend to the young season that the coaching staff and players want to stop.

The Stars have given up the most goals in the league – 38 – and not surprisingly, Marty Turco’s goals-against-average of 4.26 is the worst in the league. Four goals-plus per game against won’t win you many hockey games.

Case in point – the Stars gave up an average of only 2.52 goals per game last season, leading to 45 wins and 97 points. The bottom line is that the Stars need to shore up their defense to get things back on track.

Longtime goaltending consultant Andy Moog spent some time on the ice with the goaltenders prior to practice and Dave Tippett said that he will be back again on Tuesday to work with them some more.

“We have to find some solutions with our goaltenders and he certainly has some experience in that area,” Tippett said.

Moog said that his main goal is to get the goaltenders to work on getting themselves in good position in every scenario and let them make the save.

But Sunday’s practice was more about team defense and the club worked on individual battle drills.

“It was a simple practice, something that was very good for all of us,” said defenseman Philippe Boucher. “It was a lot of one-on-one’s, two-on-two’s, three-on-three’s. I would imagine we’ll have a similar practice on Tuesday, continuing to focus on the basics and be ready to show results on Wednesday.”

Added Trevor Daley, “It was all about hard work and competing today, winning battles. It’s a part of our game right now that we have to fix.”

The Stars’ coaches are focusing on defending at even strength, especially on even-man rushes.

“It’s about defending,” said Tippett. “We have to improve in all areas of our defensive game and it starts with hard work. We need to get better in defending off the rush. We need to get that cleaned up.”

Getting back to basics and focusing on every man doing their job was the main focus.

“Sometimes you overplay guys, trying to do two things at once,” said Daley. “We need to get back to doing the simple fundamental things like putting a stick in the lane or just taking the guy in the slot. It’s not a lack of effort, that’s for sure. We want to fix it and find our way.”

The Stars (3-4-2) are one game shy of getting back to the .500 mark. Last season the team also started slow out of the gate, going 5-5-2 in October, but followed that up with an 8-4-2 November and a 10-4-0 December. To do that again, the Stars need to get more consistency in their game and getting back to the bread-and-butter of this club – playing good defense.

Steve Ott is expected to be back in the line-up on Wednesday, coming back from injury. He was on the ice going full speed on Sunday.

“This was an old school practice today, doing a lot of drills that I haven’t done in a long time,” he said. “It was a lot of straight line drills and a lot of one-on-one defending. It was a true test of my injury out there. I felt great – no pain, no nothing. I should be ready to rock on Wednesday.”

The Stars will not practice on Monday as the team participates in the Classic BMW Dallas Stars Golf Tournament at Craig Ranch in McKinney. Dallas will host Minnesota on Wednesday (Tickets) at American Airlines Center at 7:30 pm (FS Southwest, News/Talk 820 WBAP).
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