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Stars’ Room Remains Optimistic

by Steve Hunt / Dallas Stars

Peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, ups and downs, there are so many ways to characterize the rollercoaster that often is the 82-game NHL regular season. After a tough loss in Nashville on Saturday night, the Stars found themselves in a valley as they were on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture looking in after their 4-2 defeat to the Predators.

But if Dallas has been anything this year, it’s resilient. And even though Marc Crawford’s club now finds their proverbial backs against the wall where they have to start winning and do it frequently over their final eight games to even have a shot at making the playoffs, the mood in the room after practice on Monday was still good.

Then again, the vibe surrounding this team for the entire season has been pretty positive, so today’s favorable aura shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

“Yeah, we try to stay focused on what’s ahead. There’s definitely pressure now. We’re not at a point where there’s panic but you definitely start to feel that you’ve got to get some wins here, that’s for sure,” Stars All-Star center Brad Richards said. “The thing about our group all year is we’ve tried to just keep looking forward. Right from the coaching staff, from the leaders right down to the young guys, we try to set off with a smile and bring a good attitude to the rink every day. If you don’t, it’s an awful feeling. It’ll all snowball and you just don’t play as good.”

Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley agrees.

“I think it’s good considering where we’re at right now. We have to stay up. We can’t get down,” Daley said. “Everybody’s got to be positive and we’ve got to be excited. That’s when we play our best, when we’re positive, excited and going. So that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Fellow blueliner Stephane Robidas sees the team taking on a playoff-like focus for these final eight contests of the year.

“It’s like a playoff series. We’ve got eight games left and we need to take it one game at a time,” Robidas said. “If you win one game, you can be happy but not pleased with it. You’ve got to try to win that second one. We still have a chance. That’s the situation we’re in now. We’ve just got to embrace it.”

On Monday afternoon, the Stars boarded a plane for Phoenix to embark on a four-game road trip against four likely playoff teams from the West.

Crawford clearly knows how high the stakes are for this trip, but as always, he wants to keep both his and his club’s focus on the task at hand.

“We’ve got a big game on Tuesday night against Phoenix. You’ve got to recognize the task at hand,” the Dallas head coach said. “Our task at hand is not to make the playoffs in this next game. Our task at hand is to kind a way to be good in that game and allow ourselves to get the two points that we so desperately need.”

Speaking of two big positives, the Stars could see winger Adam Burish and defenseman Karlis Skrastins both return to the lineup during this road trip, which at four games, is tied for their longest road swing of the season.

However the news isn’t quite as favorable when it comes to defenseman Nick Grossman or forward Brian Sutherby.

“Both Burish and Skrastins are possibilities as we go into this road trip. I would doubt that either will be ready to play tomorrow but the fact that they’re traveling with us is a positive sign,” Crawford said. “Grossman’s not in a position to travel with us just yet. He gets a lot better treatment being back here and having that type of attention. The same goes for Sutherby.”

The Stars drop the puck with Phoenix on Tuesday night at 9:00 PM CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Dallas will then face San Jose on Thursday, LA on Saturday afternoon and then close out the road swing on Sunday night in Anaheim.

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