After playing eight of their first eleven games out of the All-Star break on the road, the Stars will get to spend some extended time at home.
The Stars, who have had three one-game homestands so far this month, will play their next three games and nine of the next 12 at American Airlines Center. They begin the stretch Thursday when they take on the Jets, the team they defeated, 5-3, in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
“It’s trying to build off that win and keep going in the right direction,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak with Tuesday’s win. “We’ve got a number of home games coming up. We’ve played a lot more road games than at home. Our fans have been great and if you look at our home record compared to last year, give our fans a lot of credit for that.”
The Stars are 21-7-0 (42 points) at home this season and already have surpassed last season’s win total (17-16-8) and have matched last season’s point total with 13 home games left.
Thursday’s game will conclude a home-and-home series with Winnipeg. It’s the second home-and-home set for the Stars this season. They played one against St. Louis coming out the NHL’s holiday break in December.
“It creates a rivalry,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “I am sure they are looking to get back in the win column, and we are going to have to game plan a little differently. We gave up too many chances the last game. As players, you can create a little bit of a rivalry, so it is good.
“There was nothing dramatic that happened last night, so there will be a little bit of carryover though. Sometimes you have to change up your power play or penalty kill because they are going to make adjustments to it. It kind of keeps you on your toes to play the same team twice.”
Despite the recent three-game slide, the Stars head into Thursday’s game with a 7-3-1 record since the All-Star break. Their 15 points are tied for third most in the league and their .682 points percentage is tied for fourth. The Stars sit first in the Central Division and Western Conference and second overall in the NHL at 38-17-6 (82 points).
“We’re just chipping away at it and trying to get better,” Spezza said. “We’re in a good spot. We are first in our division, and we want to stay there. I think we are just trying to get playing the right way for the playoffs.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff revealed Tuesday that Patrick Eaves could be out 7-10 days while he battles an illness. On Wednesday, Ruff provided a little more information on what is ailing the Dallas forward.
“He might have a little bit of the pneumonia,” Ruff said. “He is sick in that sense that it is going to take a little while before he gets healthy. It’s get him healthy and get him back here. It’s probably going to take a little time when you are that sick to get back up and running again.”
Ruff said there was no concern about it being a team-wide issue.
“No,” Ruff said. “It came as a little bit of a surprise. He’s feeling better. I think he’ll be back with us in a couple days.”
Travis Moen, who has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury, took part in Wednesday’s optional practice. Ruff said Moen is getting closer to a return.
“We’re trying to get him a few more practices here, and he should be ready soon,” Ruff said. “Just day to day.”
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.