Ruff: Slumping Stars on ‘red alert’


After closing out 2013 with a win over Los Angeles, the Stars were 20-12-7 and making a playoff push in the West.

Then, 2014 happened.

Turning the calendar basically turned on the Stars, as they’ve gone a woeful 1-7-1 to start the year. As a result, head coach Lindy Ruff said it’s do-or-die time for his ailing club.

“There’s no doubt that we’re at red alert,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “We know that.”

Dallas started the year about as badly as it could’ve imagined, losing its first six games in regulation while being outscored 26-12. According to the Morning-News, it was the first time the Stars lost six in regulation since the 1995-96 campaign, a year in which the team went 26-42-14 — the worst record in the 20 years the club has been in Dallas.

A 5-2 win over Edmonton last Tuesday briefly stopped the bleeding, but the Stars returned to their losing ways after that with defeats to Boston and Minnesota.

As such, the club that was chasing the playoffs three weeks ago now finds itself nine points back of eighth place in the conference. That’s forced GM Jim Nill to take a different look at how he might approach the trade deadline.

From the Morning-News:

If the Stars don’t stop their slide, there’s a chance that the playoffs will become too far out of reach and general manager Jim Nill will have to start making roster decisions.

The 16-day Olympic break begins Feb. 9. Most teams will have a pretty good idea then if they will be buyers or sellers at the March 5 trade deadline. That means a lot of people in the Stars’ organization have a lot on their minds right now.

“I do look at wining every game. I look at all of the issues that go into that and what we can do better,” Nill said. “But I also have to look at the big picture, so it is a little different for me. We need to win, but we can’t win at all costs.”

The Stars to have one big opportunity on the horizon to turn things around. After tonight’s game in Nashville, they begin a five-game homestand against Minnesota, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Colorado and New Jersey.

Blues put Berglund on LTIR, use savings to sign Gomez

Scotte Gomez
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As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.

The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.

Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.

He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.

NHL key dates for the 2015-16 season

Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares
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Nov. 10 —  NHL General Managers Meeting (Toronto)

At last year’s November meetings, the GMs decided to kill the dry scrape. But these meetings usually serve as a table-setter for the rest of the season. It’s the more in-depth meetings in March where the majority of things get decided.

Nov. 27 — NHL Thanksgiving Showdown: Rangers at Bruins

The first of 12 “NHL on NBC” games in 2015-16. Click here for the full list, including the games on NBCSN.

Dec. 7-8 — NHL Board of Governors Meeting (Pebble Beach)

This is where we could find out about expansion. Will both Las Vegas and Quebec City get the nod? Only one of them? Neither of them?

Jan. 1 — Winter Classic: Canadiens at Bruins

From Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Please don’t make any “deflated pucks” jokes. You’re better than that.

Jan. 28-Feb. 1 — All-Star Break

This year’s festivities are being held in Nashville, which is a pretty fun town we hear. Skills competition on Saturday the 30th, game on Sunday the 31st. Over/under has been set at 25 goals and 60 percent effort.

Feb. 29 — NHL trade deadline

Leap day! Click here for a list of pending unrestricted free agents, a.k.a. potential rentals.

Mar. 14-16 — NHL General Managers Meeting (Boca Raton)

As mentioned, these are the more in-depth meetings where any recommendations are typically made. Last season, the GMs recommended 3-on-3 overtime and a coach’s challenge.

Apr. 9 — Last day of the regular season

All 30 teams in action on this Saturday. Playoffs begin four days later on Wednesday. Also, the draft lottery’s date is still to be determined, but should be held sometime around here.

June 18 — Last possible day for the Stanley Cup Final

Click here for PHT’s Cup picks.

June 24-25 — NHL draft

In Buffalo this year. Click here for Central Scouting’s “players to watch” list, led by Auston Matthews.

July 1 — Free agency begins

And then it’s summer.