New coaching systems bring changes to Stars’ play

As the Stars transition to a new coaching staff and a new way of playing hockey, there will be bumps in the road.

So while it was pretty rare for the team to get whistled for eight penalties Thursday in Toronto, players and coaches were philosophical before Saturday’s game against Montreal. There were no real specifics that were part of the pre-game preparation, just a feeling that everyone needs to pay more attention to the details.

“There’s a combination of things,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “There’s a lot of penalties being called. Everyone is finding out where that line is early in the season when you look around the league. We’ve got to figure that out, and then you can’t be careless. The ones that bother me are the stick penalties, the tripping the hooking. The compete penalties I’m not worried about.”

The Stars have been more aggressive this season, and that could put players in places to take more penalties, but players say they have to adjust.

“I think we’re trying to be a little more aggressive, but we’ve also got to be smart,” forward Luke Glendening said. “They were one of the top power plays in the league last year, and to take eight penalties against them makes the game a lot tougher than it needs to be, so we’ve got to clean that up.”

DeBoer understands the issues with adjusting to a new way of playing, but his past teams have shown that his style of puck possession is actually pretty helpful in keeping his team out of the box.

“When your systems are aggressive, you’re in confrontations more and quicker, but it shouldn’t be a reason for more penalties,” he said. “My history with it is that we’ve always been one of the least penalized teams in the league. It’s just a matter of getting used to being aggressive without taking penalties.”

Esa Lindell offered his solution.

“I would say it’s easy to fix, just take less penalties,” he said. “There will always be penalties, but I think we can live with some of those.”

One of the reasons they can is they have been very good on the penalty kill. The coaching staff has installed an aggressive kill, and the results have been great so far.

“I like the aggressive drive all the way from their breakouts,” Lindell said. “It gives them less time and forces them to make plays. It’s been working, so I like it, and we have to stay with it.”


Key Numbers


Stars captain Jamie Benn has 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) in 17 career games against Montreal. He has yet to score a point this year.


7.1 percent

Montreal has converted on 7.1 percent of its power play chances (1-for-14). Dallas has converted 28.6 percent (4-for-14).



Montreal ranks third in block shots per game at 17.8. Dallas is 11th at 15.5.


He said it

“That’s what we want to see. He was attacking holes, he was winning some pucks back, winning some puck races. For me, all the tools are there, it’s bringing that game consistently to the rink. He knows that. He knows that’s the expectation. When he does that, we’re going to try to reward him. When he doesn’t, we won’t.”

-Stars coach Pete DeBoer on the play of winger Denis Gurianov, who is coming off a good game after struggling at times in the first three.


Expected lineup




This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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