<
>

Crawford: Teamwork, talent key for Stars

Remember some of those slogans the Dallas Stars rolled out at the beginning of the season?

“It’s About Team.”

“Every Day for Each Other.”

Well, Stars coach Marc Crawford was rolling out variations of those slogans Monday as he talked about the recent success of his team, which is on a roll as it gets ready to open a three-game homestand with a Tuesday night tilt against the Montreal Canadiens at American Airlines Center.

The Stars are 10-2-2 in their last 14 games and have used that run to climb to the top spot in the Pacific Division and within one point of the first place in the Western Conference. That run has pushed their overall record to 20-10-3, which ranks them fourth in the NHL in points (43) and fifth in the league in points percentage (.652).

“Generally speaking, I think it’s guys not wanting to let each other down. That’s pretty powerful stuff. I think they are really playing hard for one another,” said Crawford. “Whether it’s the penalty killers going out and getting a big kill or the power play scoring a big goal, guys are feeling comfortable in their roles and they’re taking pride in playing hard for one another. I know it sounds hokey, but I think there is a lot to the feeling on the team right now.”

And that’s been adding up to wins and points. During this recent run, the Stars have won in a variety of ways. Four times they’ve grinded out 2-1 regulation victories. They’ve won twice in overtime. They’ve won twice in a shootout. They’ve overcome deficits to win games four times. Two other times they rallied to pick up at least one point.

They’ve done it at home, where they are 4-0-1 during this current run and 9-0-2 dating back to late October. And they’ve done it on the road, where they are 6-2-1 in their last nine games.

And they’ve done regardless of who is in the lineup or who is in goal.

“It’s guys doing the right things at the right time. We’re not playing as individuals; we’re playing and doing good team things, which are often times unselfish and more than unselfish they are selfless,” said Crawford. “We’ve got talent and that combination of a talented group playing the right way is proving to be pretty successful.”

And Crawford said that talent is a reason the Stars have been able to thrive in close games. Nine of the ten wins during the 10-2-2 run have come by one goal. The Stars are 14-2-3 in games decided by one goal this season. The 14 one-goal wins lead the league as does their .737 winning percentage in those contests.

“It’s the puck in the right hands and at the right times, the save being made at the right time, the penalty kill being made at the right time,” said Crawford. “You can’t underestimate the talent measure in all of it. There’s the talent of the goaltender, the talent of the scorer, the talent of the defensive player, the talent of the toughness.”

The Stars are coming off a tough part of their schedule that saw them play eight games - six on them on the road - in 14 days. But the NHL schedule as a whole is tough, an 82-game grind. And the Stars aren’t even halfway through it yet. There’s a long way to go and a lot of hockey to be played, but right now the Stars are finding a way to rack up valuable points in what is and what will continue to be a very tight battle for playoff spots in the Western Conference.

“We’re getting contributions from all of the people in the various roles and they’re all playing well and our timing is quite good,” said Crawford. “There is lots of parity in the league and these games could have easily gone the either way, but we are giving ourselves a good opportunity to win because we are playing the right way.”

Stars' run by the numbers

Some numbers from the 10-2-2 run by the Dallas Stars