The Dallas Stars skated on Tuesday [Feb. 8] for the first time since losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Calgary Flames on Feb. 1. They are currently preparing for their first game after the NHL All-Star break against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
Stars Looking To Get Their Legs Back
The top priority on Tuesday was to simply get the legs moving after the extended All-Star break. Most Dallas players were skating for the first time in a week, so it is going to take a bit of time to get going. Going into a tough matchup with the Predators on Wednesday, the team knew how important it was to get back up to speed quickly.
“Just to get going again, get the legs going again,” Bowness said. “Make it competitive. So there was some five-on-five stuff in there and again working on the offensive side of the puck, breakouts, getting the D up involved, and the specialty teams.”
Dallas Needs A Better Second Half of the Season
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Stars are far from where they wanted to be. They currently hold a record of 23-18-2, good for 48 points. That has them sitting just below the playoff line, trailing the Flames by four points for the second wild-card spot. They are 5-5-0 in their last 10 and sit 17th in goals per game and 20th in goals-against average. In order to make the playoffs, Dallas will likely need to be a much more consistent team over the final 39 games.
“We are disappointed where we are, there is no question,” Bowness said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t turn it around in the second half. We are knocking on the door of a playoff spot and it’s up to us to push forward and win a few more games in the second half than we did in the first half. No one wants to be where we are but we put ourselves here, and now it is going to be up to us to dig ourselves back in.”
While the players need to focus on the next game, it has become clear that their place in the standings is something they are well aware of. When asked about when he begins to emphasize the standings, Bowness made it clear that they have already started.
“Two months ago,” Bowness laughed. “You don’t want to fall behind.”
Jason Robertson Absent
One Stars player that was absent on Tuesday was Jason Robertson. Robertson is currently riding a hot streak that has seen him tally points in 21 of the last 25 games. He recorded a goal in the loss to Calgary and appeared healthy, so it was unknown why he was absent from practice.
“He has a slight eye infection,” Bowness said. “He showed up yesterday and practiced yesterday, so we sent him home today. They put drops in it so he should be okay for tomorrow, that’s the plan. Apparently, it is contagious, so it is better to keep him away from the guys. But he did skate here yesterday and the doctor gave him eye drops so he should be okay for tomorrow.”
This is great news for Dallas as Robertson has been a huge part of the team’s success this season, serving on the left side of the dynamic top line alongside Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski. Robertson has 41 points in 35 games this season and has only gotten better after nearly winning the Calder Trophy in 2020-21
Stars Lineup Updates
It was a relatively healthy skate for Dallas on Tuesday as only Robertson was absent. Other recently injured players Michael Raffl, Braden Holtby, and Joel Kiviranta all took full part in practice, skating on regular lines throughout. Raffl has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot against the Detroit Red Wings while Holtby and Kiviranta missed the last game before the break against Calgary.
“Michael and Kiviranta got through practice,” Bowness said. “They are a little tender, obviously haven’t played for so long, but they got through practice so they should be able to play tomorrow. Same with Holtby.”\
The return of these players and the absence of Robertson shuffled up the lines a bit from their previous spots. Jacob Peterson skated on the top line in place of Robertson but is likely going to return to his spot with Kiviranta and Alexander Radulov tomorrow. The very effective third line of Raffl, Radek Faksa, and Luke Glendening was also reunited, pushing Tanner Kero out of the lineup.
Stars Practice Lines
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!