A road trip is up next for the Dallas Stars. The Stars hit the road for their first extended trip of the season, playing four games in eight nights in both Florida and Pennsylvania.
The Stars see some benefits to a lengthy trip early in the season, especially with some new players on the roster this season.
“We know the new guys better now, but it will be fun to go to dinner and get to know them more personally,” said left wing Antoine Roussel.
“I’ve always liked it early in the year. It gives you a chance to get around the guys and spend time together,” said center Jason Spezza. “I think it is a challenge too because it is harder to go into road buildings. We are going on an Eastern swing, playing teams that we don’t know that well, so it is a good challenge for us. It’s a good way to get our season kicked off, hopefully win some games and get a good feeling going.”
The Stars will play at Tampa Bay, Florida, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh during the trip. The Stars were 24-15-2 away from home last season, tying for the fourth-best road record in the Western Conference and tying for sixth among all NHL teams. The Stars would like to see that carry over into this season.
“You have to take it one game at a time,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “Most teams look at a road trip as trying to get the guys together, trying to get something established. We established a pretty good record on the road last year, and we’d like to get it going the right direction starting with that game in Tampa Bay.”
The Stars are coming off a strong showing in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Edmonton, improving to 2-0 at home this season where they struggled last season.
“The fact that we’ve got two goaltenders that have won games and the fact that we are 2-0 at home is a good thing. The home record is a big deal,” Ruff said. “I have to give our players a lot of credit. We are going in the right direction.”
And now they hope to continue heading that way on the road.
Notes: Eaves could miss a couple weeks
*The Stars placed forward Patrick Eaves on injured reserve Wednesday. Eaves suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Tuesday’s game against Edmonton, and could be out a while.
“It looks like a period of time. It looks like it could be a couple weeks with him,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “I don’t have anything definitive, but it is going to be a little bit of time.”
*Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin did not practice Wednesday. It was a maintenance day for both, according to Ruff. Both logged big minutes Tuesday with Seguin playing 23:38 and Benn playing 22:47.
With Patrick Eaves going on injured reserve, the Stars recalled LW Curtis McKenzie from Texas of the AHL. McKenzie was the final player cut from the NHL roster prior to opening night. He’s played one game with Texas, registering three assists in a 5-4 overtime win over San Antonio. He played 36 games with Dallas last season.
“Curtis has added that physical presence. He went down to the American League, played a game and had three assists. From what I understand, he played really well,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “For a younger player like Curtis, I like seeing him go down and play bigger minutes and bigger roles, handling the puck more. Sometimes when you come up here, you don’t get quite that same role. For him to develop, to go down there and play and get the big minutes, they don’t’ want to hear or be part of it, but they’ve got to go down and do it. The meeting with him was that he was going to go down there and be the best player down there and from what I understand, he was. That’s a good thing for us.”
It was tough for McKenzie to not make the NHL roster out of camp, but he said he went to the AHL determined to make the most of his time there.
“It’s tough but at the same time I am going to a spot where I am going to be playing a lot,” McKenzie said. “It’s a far better position than being up here if I was the 14th forward and not playing at all. At least I am getting to play hockey. … I am looking forward to being here, and if I get in, I am looking forward to that.”
Ruff said he hasn’t decided if McKenzie will be in on Thursday when the Stars play at Tampa Bay.
After Patrick Eaves left Tuesday’s game with an injury, coach Lindy Ruff juggled his lines and put Patrick Sharp on a line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Those three had a strong game. But Ruff isn’t sure if he’ll keep them together. Ruff likes to add some grit to each line. Asked about who might slide in on that line with Benn and Seguin, Ruff indicated he might go deeper into his bench than usual.
“Fraser,” Ruff said. “Curt Fraser.”
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.