Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Stars notes: Line on a roll
By Mark Stepneski
When Steve Ott went out with a hip injury last week, Stars coach Glen Gulutzan had to tinker with his forward lines. He decided to give Michael Ryder a look on a line with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, and the move has paid some big dividends.
Since being put together those three players have combined for eight goals, 14 assists and a +19 rating in three games.
“Those two guys have been playing together, they’ve been flying,” Ryder said of Benn and Eriksson. “I’ve just jumped in there and been feeding off them. We have something good going right now.”
Ryder, who opened the season playing with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, had three goals and one assist in the first eleven games. Over the last three he has three goals and four assists.
“We’ve been creating a lot of chances and we’ve been strong on pucks,” said Eriksson. “Rydes has been playing really good with us. Everything is clicking and we just have to keep going.”
And the three have been sharing the goal scoring duties during their run. Eriksson scored two goals, including the game-winner, in Friday’s overtime win over Colorado. Benn had two goals in the win at Carolina Sunday. And Ryder potted two in Tuesday night’s win in Washington.
“Rydes is a guy that can play anywhere. He is a pretty easy going guy. He fits in with our group and he fits in with all our guys. It’s nice for them (Benn and Eriksson) to have a right shot,” said Gulutzan. “And you’ve got Loui, he can go anywhere. These are good options to have, but you’ve got to see it long term over five or six games.”
Here’s a look at the production of Eriksson, Benn and Ryder over the last three games.
National media are starting to show up in Pittsburgh in anticipation that Sidney Crosby could make his return when the Stars take on the Penguins Friday night. Crosby hasn’t played since January due to a concussion. The only hitch is that the Penguins still haven’t said that Crosby will return Friday.
Crosby didn’t talk to the media after the Penguins practiced Wednesday and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wasn’t ready to reveal a return date.
"Again with Sidney Crosby, there is no timetable for his return,” Bylsma said. “There is not a date at this point and time. He continues to practice with the team and progress."
“We have some really strong personnel and everybody is on the same page and buying into the system. The guys really want to play the team game and everybody is playing the same way. That’s encouraging. When you are seeing the guys who are supposed to be your high-paid offensive super stars backchecking like animals, it rubs off. Guys do that here and they play the right way. It’s really been exciting to be a part of this.”
Stars forward Eric Nystrom, talking about the Stars’ hot start during an interview on SiriusXM’s The Power Play