Turnovers remain sticking point for Ruff, Stars

Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff

Jerome Miron/Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

First the good news, the Dallas Stars don’t currently lead the National Hockey League in giveaways. In fact, the Stars currently rank fourth in the league with 451 giveaways.

"That’s a stat that really has to improve," Stars first-year head coach Lindy Ruff said. "And when we’re playing well, it’s usually pretty low."

On Tuesday, Dallas will host the second-most giveaway prone team in the League in the Edmonton Oilers, who currently have 542 giveaways, as the Stars look to end a six-game regulation losing streak, equaling their longest since the move to Dallas from Minnesota in 1993.

The 1995-96 Stars, the first year under Ken Hitchcock, also lost six straight in regulation in November 1995. The last time the Stars lost seven straight in regulation came in the 1989-90 campaign when the North Stars dropped seven in a row between Nov. 30 and Dec. 12, 1989.

After a tough 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday in the first game of a three-game homestand and the start of eight of the next 10 games on home ice, the Stars players did not practice on Monday per the league’s new CBA.

But Ruff and his staff did not have Monday off and are well aware of what the team needs to do to right the ship and not just end their current malaise, but swing the pendulum the other way and get a winning streak going before things truly get away from them.

"We really have to tighten up our neutral zone. It’s not from not working hard, but it’s working stupid. It wasn’t because we didn’t work hard but we didn’t work smart," Ruff said.

But for those who think that getting a "W" over the Oilers, who currently occupy the Western Conference basement, is a sure thing, Edmonton is anything but an easy two points, especially considering the Oil beat the Stars 3-2 in a shootout during their last trip to American Airlines Center back on Dec. 1, 2013.

And if the Stars don’t start taking better care of the puck, the caliber of competition won’t matter since turnovers truly are one of the biggest equalizers in today’s NHL no matter how much speed Dallas has on their top line and great goaltending they get from starter Kari Lehtonen.

However, in times like these, it’s always best to lean on someone who has been through his share of losing streaks (and winning streaks for that matter as well) during a long NHL career. Fortunately, the Stars have such an individual in 41-year-old Ray Whitney, who offered a bit of sage advice after Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Isles.

"There’s only one way out of it. That’s just with simple hard work and commitment to playing the right. As a group, we have to decide to do that," Whitney said. "You can’t have half your team doing it and half your team not doing it. Until you get that, you’re not going to have the success that you want as a group. We’re going to have to evaluate this and change what we’re doing."

Whitney and the Stars will get their chance on Tuesday night at the AAC.