The Dallas Stars did not practice in Frisco Wednesday. Instead, they had a meeting, and there was a particular focus after Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss in Columbus.
“Just playing defense,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I went through some numbers. I’ve looked back at some of the games that we’ve lost, and our defensive numbers have been high against maybe a non-division foe or somebody from the East, where our defensive numbers have gone way up. We talked about our goal of playing good hockey away from the puck. I think it slipped in some of those games.”
Some of those defensive lapses have come against teams at the bottom of the NHL standings, including the Blue Jackets who currently rank last in the league. Tuesday’s game came after the Stars went through a stretch of five games against quality teams, including four straight against Central Division opponents. It was a stretch of games where the Stars went 4-0-1 and allowed just seven goals.
“We’ve had a pretty emotional seven days where we were coming off a back-to-back before Christmas (Minnesota and Chicago) and going back-to-back with St. Louis after Christmas,” Ruff said. “I said it is really tough to judge these period of games. You don’t know what to expect at times. We played a lot of hockey; the emotions ran really high in a couple of the games.
“Sometimes when you get in a game like [Columbus], it is almost like a breather, but then you’ve got to play smarter and take care of your own end first. We started off the game where we didn’t take care of our own end. You end up chasing the game, and that plays into the other team’s hands. If you make the other team chase you, the chances usually go up in your favor."
With the Stars in the middle of a heavy game schedule and little time for practice, last night’s game can come in handy.
“We can use parts of that game as a learning experience. It’s a teaching opportunity,” Ruff said. “We were disjointed. Our shifts got long in some cases. Our defensive play got poor where we missed some assignments that were easy assignments to get to. We went over that and went back to where the basics came from and said let’s get back to what made us effective.”
The Dallas Stars placed forward Ales Hemsky on injured reserve Wednesday and recalled center Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Hemsky was injured in Tuesday’s game at Columbus when he was hit in the foot by the puck while blocking a shot by Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin. Hemsky was placed on IR retroactive to Dec. 29, so he’ll be out at least one week.
Faksa has played 14 games for Dallas this season, registering two points (one goal, one assist) and winning 50.8 percent of his faceoffs (61 of 120).
Faksa has 13 points (9 goals, 4 assists) in 19 games with Texas.
Stars prospect Roope Hintz tallied one goal and one assist as Finland routed Slovakia, 8-3, at the World Junior Championship in Helsinki on Wednesday. Hintz scored off a rebound late in the second to give Finland a 3-2 lead. He picked up an assist on a Kasperi Kapanen power-play goal that put Finland up 7-3 in the third period. Hintz had four shots on goal and won 8 of 16 faceoffs in the game. Finland, which is 2-1-0, wraps up preliminary round play Thursday against Czech Republic.
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.