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Sturm Blog: Stars 5-on-5 Play Encouraging

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars

Bob Sturm
That win in Florida is a wonderfully nice way to complete a Florida trip where the Stars were pounded pretty hard on Monday, had Tuesday and Wednesday to both hear about their shortcomings and work on them, and then Thursday to see if they could light up one of stingiest teams in hockey.

All in all, another bright sign of progress from the Stars after a 4-1 domination of the Florida Panthers.

More good goaltending.

Finally outshooting an opponent.

Getting production from that 3rd line with Jamie Benn, Tom Wandell, and Steve Ott.

Great team building moment with Adam Burish sticking up for Mike Ribeiro after Ribs caught an unfortunate elbow.  That is what this team needs is that pack mentality.  You touch one of ours, and you better be ready to put up your dukes.  We have eachother's back at every turn - and I can tell you, there have been times where that has been missing around here.   The time Steve Ott took a beating from the Ducks while he couldn't punch back with his broken hand and his mates stood there and watched should not and cannot happen.  I think this is a sign that this group of guys are ready to stick up for eachother.  Good job, Adam.  Let's see more of that.

Last time I blogged, I spent some time on the disconcerting penalty kill that has haunted this team for the last 170 games.  Well, last night, they were 3-3 on the PK, so that is a step in the right direction.  That is a negative early trend that bothers me, but allow me to show you a positive trend that I am getting pretty excited about.

5 on 5 play.  It is the best test to measure your team.  If you subtracted all special teams play, can your team hold its own 5 vs 5?  Can you score without the man advantage?  Can you generate offense in the course of the 45 minutes each night where both teams are at full and equal strength?

In the past few years, the Stars would lose this battle.

Adam Burish sticking up for his linemate Mike Ribeiro
In 2007-08, the Stars were +15 at equal strength, and they had a very solid year.  (160 goals for, 145 against) But, in 2008-09, they dropped 24 goals to being a -9 in equal strength goals as a team.  (168 for, 177 against) Last year, It was more of the same at -11.  (160 for, 171 against).

If you are getting beat when you have the same amount of players on the ice as your opponent, then you are behind the 8-ball and really stress your special teams to be more than special to make up the gap.  As we know, the PK was brutal, and the Stars missed the playoffs.  You cannot be bad at equal and bad at PK and hope to move up the standings.

But, look at this 2010 trend!  Through 6 games, the Stars have 19 equal strength goals and have allowed 6.  Already, a +13! 

They are not only holding their own, they are dominating in 5 on 5 play.  What a positive sign.

This shows us that at equal strength, the boys are holding their own.  The Richards line is doing better (especially on the road compared to last year).  The Ribs line is fine.  And now, with the return of Jamie Benn....and then that 4th line with guys like Segal banging around, maybe this turnaround is starting to turn around.

It is very early in the year, but in the last few years, equal strength has not showed equal strength from the Stars.

It is a small sample, but an encouraging one indeed.

Now, let's see if momentum can continue during the homestand.

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