- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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FRISCO -- The Dallas Stars have played only two road games so far this season and starting Friday they’ll face their first road trip of the season, playing three games against Pacific Division foes.
It starts with a back-to-back set with Anaheim on Friday and Los Angeles Saturday. The Ducks (4-1-0) have won four straight and the Kings are 4-1-1 and have won three straight, although they have lost defenseman Drew Doughty with what appears to be a shoulder injury.
“I think this is going to be a real good test for us,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Anaheim’s a pretty healthy group. Maybe Los Angeles without Doughty isn’t as healthy as they’d like to be, but two pretty full squads that we’re competing with. We’re going to see where we stack up going on the road and playing those two teams.”
The Stars also play Phoenix on the trip, taking on the Coyotes Tuesday. Last season the Stars struggled against the Pacific, posting a 9-10-5 record, and were the only team from the division not to make the playoffs.
“Those divisional games are always important. You’re battling against those guys to make the playoffs at the end of it all,” said forward Steve Ott. “Anytime you can pick up points against your division, your rivals, those are the ones that always seem to find their way at the end of the year. They are just as important now as they are going to be throughout the season. For us, we are going to have to go in there with that mentality to grab points.”
Games against Western Conference foes are important. It’s a chance for the Stars to gain points and take away points from teams they’ll be battling to get into the postseason tournament. They get a chance to do that more often against divisional foes since they play them six times compared with four times for other Western Conference teams.
“The conference games get more important because you are all fighting for eight spots, so that’s important,” said Gulutzan. “It’s just that you happen to play these guys (Pacific Division teams) more times and in that case we have to make sure we establish some mental credibility four ourselves playing those teams.”
The Stars are in a stretch where they play four straight on the road. That began with Tuesday’s 3-2 win at Columbus, which gave the Stars their first road victory of the season. They returned home, had an optional skate Wednesday and then went through a fast paced practice Thursday in Frisco.
“It’s huge,” defenseman Alex Goligoski said of the victory in Columbus. “When you’re away from home for a while, you definitely want to start out on the right foot. If you start out with a couple of bad games, it seems like things can spiral out of control. It’s good to get the first one for sure, get back home here, kind of reset and go out there and win a few more.”
Souray misses practice, probable for Friday
Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray did not practice Thursday after receiving a shot on Wednesday for a problem with his wrist.
"He has to wait 24 hours and he'll be fine. That's why he elected to skate yesterday," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after Thursday’s practice. "He'll skate tomorrow in the pregame. We just have to wait 24 hours after he got the needle for his wrist. His wrist bugs him from time to time. He has to get it done and we just have to manage the time."
Souray is currently tied for the team lead in points with five (one goal, four assists).
“It’ll be a true test for us. Their hockey club is playing very well. They’ve had turnover in some of their lineup, the coaching staff. The one thing that’s consistent is their goalie’s been really, really good. You look at the stats. His save percentage and his goals-against average has been very noticeable. He’s doing a very good job for them. They’re playing as a group.” – Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle on the Dallas Stars (Orange County Register)
28dFrom the NHLPA