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Thursday, February 9, 2012
Stars look to right ship

By Mark Stepneski

FRISCO – The Dallas Stars have been in a bit of a funk lately and Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said the only way the team is going to get out of it is by bearing down and working their way out of it.

“There’s no magic elixir or potion that is going to come,” Gulutzan said. “It’s about digging in. This game is still about that, working together and doing the same things within our structure. That’s what it is about.”

The Stars haven’t come out of the All-Star break the way they wanted. The record is 2-2-0. It could be worse if not for the goaltending of Kari Lehtonen. They’re actually a point closer to eighth place than when they came out of the All-Star break, sitting only two points out of the final spot. But teams have pushed ahead of the in the standings, leaving the Stars in 12th place at the end of play Wednesday.

The Stars were expecting more, and they’ll need more as they move ahead. That was the message Wednesday as the Stars prepared to head off on a brief road trip.

“The message is we’ve got to dig in here and get to work to right this ship,” Gulutzan said.

The Stars didn’t practice Wednesday, saving some energy now that they are in a stretch where they play at least every other night and travel between each game for the next couple weeks.

The Stars hit the road for the next two games and while the opponents are out of the playoff picture, they won’t be easy matchups. Thursday’s opponent – the Columbus Blue Jackets – are sitting 15th in the Western Conference, but have been playing better and are on a two-game winning streak.

“They beat Minnesota (Tuesday) night. They are a team that works very hard, they got skilled guys and at this juncture this is an even matchup,” said Gulutzan. “We’re going to have to make sure that we’re ready to play.”

And Friday’s opponent – the Buffalo Sabres – are on a bit of a roll. They’ve picked up points in five straight games (4-0-1) and are coming off a 6-0 rout of Boston Wednesday night.  That will be a tough matchup on the second night of a back-to-back, something the Stars have struggled with this season.

Back-to-back No. 10

Thursday’s game at Columbus and Friday’s game against Buffalo will be the Stars’ tenth set of back-to-back games this season. The first nine haven’t gone well. The Stars have a 4-12-2 record in those games, including a 4-4-1 mark in first games of the back-to-back and a 0-8-1 record in second games. Excluding the goal awarded for a shootout victory, the Stars have been outscored 36-14 in those second games.