Stars look to build on road win vs. Ducks in Phoenix
FEB 03, 2014 9:47p ET
Of course, since realignment now has the Stars in the Central with the Coyotes remaining in the Pacific, these two once division rivals now don't meet as often, but that won't make Wednesday's meeting in Glendale, Arizona, the first of the season between these two clubs, any less important, especially for Dallas, who heads into this contest fresh off a 2-0 blanking of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at Honda Center, the first time this season Anaheim had been shut out.
"It's the teams you want to play when you want to try to move up. They're going to look at it the same way," Stars first-year head coach Lindy Ruff said of Phoenix. "They had a big win last game over Pittsburgh, pretty similar to the game that we played against Pittsburgh in our building.â
The Coyotes, who feature three former Stars in Jeff Halpern, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Smith along with a former Dallas head coach in Dave Tippett, currently sit ninth in the Western Conference standings, just three points ahead of Dallas, who currently has 59 points.
Dallas and Phoenix will square off again at American Airlines Center on Saturday, but the focus for Ruff and his players is where it should be, on Wednesday's first leg of a back-to-back that will also take them to San Jose on Wednesday to finish out the three-game road trip, their last before the NHL Olympic Break begins on Feb. 9.
On Sunday, a number of Stars players had their fathers join the team as they prepared to travel to Phoenix for the club's annual Dads' Trip, something Ruff loves being part of.
"This is probably my fourth or fifth and I haven't had one yet that has been a disappointment. It's a great way of repaying your parents for what they did for you when you were younger and a great opportunity to give them an inside look of how they prepare and how they travel and everything else. It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of these parents," Ruff said.
In the tail end of the Stars' five-game homestand, which ended with an overtime loss to New Jersey last Thursday, Ruff stressed the importance of finishing strong heading into the Olympic break. Dallas gets another chance at accomplishing that goal on Tuesday against a Coyotes team who figures to play a game similar to the Devils, one that is true grind-it-out hockey with few scoring chances for either team.