Stars coach Glen Gulutzan juggled his forward lines a bit for Saturday’s practice, which was held before a large crowd at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Euless.
Loui Eriksson moved to the top line with Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr. Brenden Morrow, who had been on the top line, was on the left wing with center Cody Eakin and right wing Reilly Smith. Erik Cole, who was on the Eakin line in his first game with the Stars Thursday night, skated on the right wing with left wing Antoine Roussel and center Derek Roy in Saturday’s session.
Gulutzan said the changes were prompted by the Morrow-Benn-Jagr line racking up some minus-ratings over the past three games.
“That one line was minus quite a bit here in the last few days and we wanted to see if we could shake things up a little bit,” Gulutzan said. We’ll go from there, and if it doesn’t work we are prepared to change.”
Focus on penalties
Penalties were one focus in today’s practice. The Stars were shorthanded nine times in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Oilers. Penalties hurt Monday night when they squandered a 4-2 lead in Nashville and lost, 5-4, in overtime.
This past week’s penalty woes came after a stretch of games where the Stars had been pretty good on the discipline front, but Gulutzan said in a shortened season and with the standings so tight, there is no margin for error when it comes to discipline.
“You can’t have blips. It’s too short to have blips on the radar,” Gulutzan said. “You can’t win games when you take that many penalties. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to take fewer penalties and we’ve got to be more accountable for our actions, and more aware of where we are.”
Gulutzan said the Stars are making the penalty issue a priority.
“We were on them in practice. We had a couple penalties in practice. You can’t have it. You can’t have penalties in practice,” Gulutzan said. “We talked about it today, we talked about it this morning. It’s going to have to be a daily thing.”
Injury notes: Larsen, Whitney to skate Sunday
Stars defenseman Philip Larsen, who has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury, is expected to skate Sunday morning. So will Ray Whitney, who has been out since February 2 with a broken bone in his foot.
“We’ll see how they are after the skate,” Gulutzan said. “Whits is a pretty cut and dried thing. The bone is healed or it’s not. It’s not at that point yet, but he is going to skate tomorrow. It’s probably going to be earlier rather than later, just knowing him.”
Saturday’s practice lineup