Facing evenly matched opponents in low scoring games, the Stars are hunkered down in playoff mode. They have little time to ruminate over Thursday's 3-1 loss to St. Louis with games on Saturday and Sunday against playoff-hungry teams. The close Western Conference race leaves little room for rest. That's why Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano, Steve Ott and Darryl Sydor skipped Friday's workout at the Dr Pepper StarsCenter.
``Rest trumps anything you might do in practice right now because it's full energy every game,'' coach Dave Tippett said. ``I'm sure every other team in our situation is in that mode.''
The final two games of their homestand are crucial. The Stars have lost three straight, scoring just two goals against Chicago, San Jose and St. Louis. On Saturday they face an Anaheim team that is coming off a 6-0 loss to Boston. The Stars and Ducks are tied with 65 points.
``We're in playoff style games,'' Tippett said. ``Anaheim is a team that's scratching and clawing to get in there and we're a team that hasn't had the results lately that we want. Tight games, that's not going to change, so you better take care of yourself. There's nobody coming the next couple of days saying, `Let's go help the Dallas Stars out.''
Tippett at least has another body to choose from. Center Steve Begin, acquired from Montreal in a trade, will make his Stars debut on Saturday. The team didn't use lines in Friday's workouts, doing most of their drills in pairs, so there's no telling what role Begin will have. Tippett has some tough choices to make. The Stars have created a lot of scoring chances but haven't finished. Five of their shots clanged off posts against the Blues.
``It's that fine line you get caught in when you're generating a lot of chances but you're not scoring,'' Tippett said. ``Do you subtly switch a couple things around to see if that tweaks some goal scoring, or do you just keep pounding away and hoping you continue to get chances and they'll find their way in.''
_ Bill Nichols