Stars Getting Back to Basics


FRISCO—This was not the start to a span of five days between games that the Dallas Stars were looking for.

On Saturday, the Stars, who still hold the best record in the Western Conference at 29-11-4 for 62 points, lost 2-1 to Central Division rival the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center. And considering Dallas doesn’t return to the ice until Friday night at the Anaheim Ducks, captain Jamie Benn, who along with center Tyler Seguin is one of two All-Stars on the squad, wanted to finish that stretch of games with a win.

Instead, the Stars are now just 1-4-0 over their past five games.

Despite the disappointing loss on Saturday, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff gave his players Monday off (following Sunday’s CBA-mandated off day) and Benn liked what he saw from his teammates in practice on Tuesday morning.

“We played a lot of hockey there. Think it was good to get two days. Guys came back obviously this morning with a little bit more energy, little bit more jump. I think it does a lot in the long run,” Benn said.

On Wednesday, Dallas departs for California, where they will face the Ducks and San Jose Sharks in a tough back-to-back against their former Pacific Division rivals on Friday and Saturday. The Stars will then conclude the trip with a date against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday.

And for Dallas, who has lost three straight on the road, all during a trip to New York at the first of the year, regaining their top road form from earlier this season is a high priority.

Naturally, Ruff has a good idea how the Stars can accomplish such a goal.

“We haven’t defended well enough [on the road], disappointed in our defending,” Ruff said. “We got to get back [to that]. We’ve been a good road team, were a good road team last year. Started out the year as a real good road team and we’ve got away from the play that makes us effective on the road.”

One positive heading into this upcoming trip is that winger Ales Hemsky, out the past six games, and defenseman Jordie Benn, who has missed the past two, both due to lower-body injuries, will be on the trip and will play.

“Yeah, both guys are doing well. Both had a full practice and anticipate both guys playing,” Ruff said.

And as the Stars prepare to hop on their charter at Love Field and head west, Benn realizes just how integral having Monday off was for the collective psyche of the team to flush their recent struggles completely out of their system and focus on righting the ship.

“I think these three days are about putting in good, hard work. We haven’t got much time to practice in a while, so these are three good days to pay attention to details, get back to playing our system well and get back to working hard,” Benn said.

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A graduate of both Oklahoma State and Arkansas, Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer who currently covers the Stars for in addition to various assorted other gigs. Hunt is currently in his 10th season covering FC Dallas, which he does for The Dallas Morning News. He’s also covered the Mavs and Rangers for Fox Sports Southwest and worked as a freelance writer for media outlets and websites from across the country. Hunt also works on the television side of sports, as a stats guy for college football, high school football, Mavs and Rangers broadcasts. You can follow him on Twitter @dfwsportsguy93