Posted on November 14, 2011 at 5:38 PM
Tuesday, Nov 15 at 6:44 PM
FRISCO - After missing the playoffs three years straight, Glen Gulutzan, a rookie head coach in the NHL, finally has the Stars heading in the right direction again.
"We've got really good character and we've got guys who care about winning," Gulutzan said. "I think that's what helps with the buy in. Seven new guys coming in here too, they were trying to fit in quickly so all of a sudden, we've got a little bit of a mesh of a team early."
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen leads the league in wins after recording the best October of his career. He's 7th in save percentage and was recently placed on the All-Star Game ballot.
"He's separating himself from the other number ones in this league as an upper-echelon number one, and I think that's his goal," Gulutzan said. "He's accomplishing it. He wants to be a top guy."
It's all about comfort, to hear it from Lehtonen.
"Of course I’ve been here for a while now, so everything is more comfortable," the goaltender said. "I feel more comfortable here, so that's good."
Before splitting the last four games on the road, the Stars were leading the Western Conference in points. It's still early in the season, but the Stars have been a pleasant surprise just 16 games into the year.
"It's pretty easy to buy in as a whole group when you're winning hockey games and you can see the results this early on," said Stars left wing Brenden Morrow. "It's a long season, but we're pretty happy with the way things have gone."
Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray is among the seven new players who now call Dallas their home.
"I think they've got a really good young group of defensemen, and I felt I could just come in and maybe provide a little leadership, a little for lack of a better word, a little sandpaper maybe on the back end," Souray said.
It's that gritty play that has Dallas Stars hockey on the rise.
The Stars will play five of their next six games at home at the American Airlines Center, starting with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.