The Dallas Stars hit the ice for their first practice of training camp at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Thursday, and the word of the day might have been pace.
“It was a great pace,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “Lindy (Ruff) is a very good coach as we all know. I loved the crispness of the practice. It was a high pace. It was all business out there. They worked hard and that is what we’re looking for.”
The on-ice sessions, which included a practice session for one group of players and a scrimmage between two other groups of players, were the first under Ruff, whom Nill hired as the new head coach of the Stars back in June.
“I thought the pace of the practice was really good,” said Ruff. “The first thing you notice is the speed. In the compete drills, the guys worked real hard. In the scrimmage, the ice got a little bit tough, but I thought in the practice the players did a nice job with the stuff we tried to work on in the offensive zone. It was a good first day.”
The compete level was high the first day of practice as well. In the morning’s first practice session with Group A, there were several competitive drills, including one-on-ones.
“There were a lot of one-on-one’s. That was great,” said forward Antoine Roussel. “In a training camp like this you want to get involved, those bumps, those physical plays right away. You feel good about it after that.”
The scrimmage between the Groups B and C was physical at times, with several good hits thrown.
“It’s the first thing (Ruff) said in the meeting last night – we’re here to compete,” said center Shawn Horcoff. “We’re going to be a team that competes.”
Thursday was the first of three days of practice in Fort Worth for the Stars. They’ll practice and scrimmage there again Friday and hold an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday before opening their exhibition slate with a game against the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center on Sunday.
“It was fun being around the guys and just seeing how intense Lindy is. It was a good first practice,” said left wing Jamie Benn. “We have three days here to get a little bit of chemistry and then we play our first exhibition game on Sunday. We are definitely jumping right back into it. It’s an exciting time.”
System talk: ‘We’re going to be aggressive’
Before the Stars hit the ice Thursday morning, there was some video work. Part of that was an explanation of how Ruff and his staff want the team to play. The word of the day there is aggressive.
“Playing more puck pressure, being more aggressive with our defense and spending more time in the offensive zone,” said Ruff. “For the most part, I thought we had some real good shifts in the scrimmage. We created a couple of great opportunities, and scored a couple of goals on having real good net-front presence, where the goaltender is fighting to see the puck. When you start scoring the ugly goals, I know you are getting to the right place.”
Here’s center Shawn Horcoff’s take on how the Stars are going to play this season: “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to turn pucks over. We are going to attack and when we do attack we want that fourth D to join because everyone in the league backchecks. There is no time to pull up. You need to drive the net and get pucks to the net. We’re going to drive and that D is going to be the one that is open in those holes to create some offense for us. We’re going to work on all that to create some offense.”
And here’s left wing Jamie Benn’s take: “We want to have a puck possession game. We want to make plays, be aggressive in the offensive zone. We want our D men to pinch in the offensive zone when it is the right time, and the accountability for the players to be in the right positions, and trust your teammates out there. We are going to be aggressive out there and go for it.”
Rome out until October, Peverley misses day one
Stars defenseman Aaron Rome is expected to be out until sometime in October due to a hip procedure.
“He should be ready close to the start of the season,” Nill said. “I don’t want to give any definite time because I know how injuries are, but he’ll be ready sometime in October.”
Forward Rich Peverley missed day one of camp after a blip showed up on his EKG during his physical on Wednesday. He had that checked out Thursday.
“EKG showed up something and we are very sensitive to that, so we let him get checked over some more,” Nill said. “If everything is OK he’ll be back tonight and back on the ice tomorrow.”
Group B: On-ice – 9 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Group A & C: Scrimmage – 11:45
Thursday’s practice lineup
Here was Thursday’s practice lineup. There were various line combinations and defense pairings used in the practice session and scrimmage, but this was the primary lineup. Some people were shuffled around from the original groups that the team released prior to camp.
|Group A||Group B||Group C|