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Stars looking forward to break in schedule

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After nine games in 15 days, the Dallas Stars are getting a break in their schedule. The Stars don’t play another game until Friday when they begin a three-game road trip in California.

“I think the break is going to be good for our club,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Obviously, it’s been a grind.”

After Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota at American Airlines Center – the final game of the stretch – Stars players said they were ready for that break, which will include getting Sunday and Monday off.

“It’s pretty obvious our energy is down from where it usually is and where we started,” defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “So it's nice to have these days and get a couple days away from the rink mentally to try and recharge our batteries.”

The nine-game stretch, which began after the NHL’s holiday break, wasn’t kind to the Stars. They went through their first losing streak of the season, which lasted three games. They struggled on the road, posting an 0-3-2 record. Overall, they went 3-4-2 in the nine games, including four losses in the last five games (1-3-1).

“We need the break. We need some time away and some time to rest,” said center Jason Spezza. “It’s been a lot of games in a short period of time, and other teams are going to go through it all the same. I think it’s a good time for us. We’ve lost some games here. We had a bad five-game set. We’re all not happy about how we’re playing.”

After getting Sunday and Monday off, the Stars will get in some practice time starting Tuesday morning in Frisco. Practice time has been limited over the past couple weeks, and the Stars will get some on-ice work before their next game, which is Friday in Anaheim.

“We’re going to get some practices in; that’s something we haven’t been able to do,” said Spezza. “Just kind of get our game back.”

Goligoski said: “We probably have had one practice in the last two weeks. That’s where you create your habits.”

With a tough part of the schedule behind them, the Stars will enter a lighter stretch of their schedule. They play six games over 18 days leading into the NHL’s All-Star break. They have the California trip with games against the Ducks, Sharks and Kings. Then they return home for games against the Oilers, Avalanche and Flames.

It’s a light schedule, but it provides some challenges as well. The Stars have to make the most of those six games or risk having teams playing heavier schedules gain ground on them. Chicago, which has ten games before the All-Star break, has pulled to within six points of the Stars in the race for the top spot in the Central Division.

“We’ve got to use this month,” said Spezza. “This is where having veteran guys comes into play. It’s our job to make guys understand that a light month like this is something we have to use to our advantage. We’ve got to try to win our games this month. We’re going to watch everybody come up behind us in the standings without us being able to do anything about it. We’ve got to just focus on winning our games and getting back to it.”

But light schedule or heavy schedule, Ruff said the formula for success doesn’t change.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “You’ve now got teams talking about desperate playoff hockey. It’s going to be game after game where you’ve got to execute and make the plays.”

The Stars announced Sunday morning that forward Radek Faksa has been reassigned to the Texas Stars of the AHL. Faksa registered one assist in four games during this most recent call-up from the AHL. For the season, he has three points (one goal, two assists) in 18 games with Dallas.

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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