Stargazing: Eriksson Named NHLs' 3rd Star of the Week

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson has been named the NHL's Third Star of the week. On a day when we've been reflecting on the first half of the season, trying to figure out what the heck is going on around here, that is a nice little pick me up. It seems recognition in this form for Dallas Stars players is seldom at best, but Loui's 5 goals last earned him the honor. Here is the release.

Mike Heika was doing the same thing we are, trying to figure out what it all means at the halfway point, and he tempered Loui's recent accomplishments a little bit:

Loui Eriksson had a monster month with 7 goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 13 games. Unfortunately, Eriksson was minus-2 in that span.

This did not escape the notice of the Stars coaching staff. The declining defensive play of what we call the Stars top line crescendoed with Dallas' 4-1 loss to Colorado, and Craig Ludwig's on-air comments disparaging Neal and Erikssons' defensive play. Jere Lehtinen promptly replaced James Neal, and this gave Loui the freedom to put the cherry on top of a solid month with a New Years Eve hat trick. Mr. Eriksson, we beg you keep it up.

Elsewhere in hockey land, the World Junior Championship in Saskatoon takes center stage. Last night the United States defeated Sweden in their semi-final match, and will face team Canada in the final on Tuesday. If you haven't been watching this, you have been missing out. The NHL Network has brought this tournament to the states in beautiful high definition, and I have really enjoyed it these last two years. Though Dallas doesn't have any prospects there this year, I highly recommend keeping one eye on the Stars and Stripes on Tuesday while you're watching the Stars take on the Devils.

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But wait, there's more: Your busy Hockey Tuesday is even more jam packed than you thought, because Defending Big D Live is going on the air after the Devils' game to bring you our second ever post game show. Between dissecting the result in NJ, and the rising tensions amongst the mixed Canadian/American Defending Big D staff while the WJC Final is on, you won't want to miss it.

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Richard Durrett asks if the Dallas Stars can change their spots halfway through the year...

The Stars have played 41 games, exactly halfway through the 2009-2010 season and they are 18-12-11 and have 47 points. Right now, that's four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, but Dallas does have a game in hand on the teams in front of them.

In other words, Dallas has a pretty average record. It's a very competitive Western Conference, so a three- or four-game winning streak could dramatically change how they look in the standings.

But is this team capable of one of those streaks? They really haven't done it all season. ...

...It's not too late to find something and make a huge playoff push. But now that Dallas has reached the halfway point, the clock starts ticking a little faster.

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THN put together an all-decade team and Jere Lehtinen made the cut. Mark Stepneski explains...

The Hockey News has put together an All-Decade team and Jere Lehtinen is the one current Dallas Star to make it. Two former Stars are on it as well - Willie Mitchell and Jussi Jokinen.

THN didn't pick just the best players of the decade, they put together what they would be the best team as its All-Decade team. That would be players that would slot in on two top scoring lines, a checking line and an energy line. They also picked defensemen that could be slotted from one through six. The picked a starting goalie and a backup as the All-Decade backup. They picked a couple of specialists too.

Lehtinen made is on the checking line. They slotted Mitchell in on the 3rd defensive pairing. Jokinen is labeled the team's shootout specialist.

Head on over to Andrew's Stars Page to see the entire lineup.

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Mike Heika has some good quotes in the Dallas Morning News from some of the guys on their thoughts halfway through the season:

"We've been what our record says we are – up and down," said Brad Richards, who leads the team in scoring with 48 points. "We've had some good spurts, and we've had some bad spurts."

"We've been OK, and OK is not good enough," Crawford said after the loss to the Canucks, which kept Dallas from picking up points on the seventh-place team in the West. "We have to be better than OK, and we're definitely capable of it. That's what we're striving for.

"That word 'determination' is thrown around a lot – and you see it in some players most of the time, guys like Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow, Jere Lehtinen," Crawford said. "But we need a few of our other guys to get it in larger doses."

"We have to improve our consistency," Richards said. "It's halfway through the season, and you've got to realize where you are. It's not the first week of the season where you can just say, 'Whatever, we'll get going.' There are only 41 games left to get to a position where we've got a chance. Games go by quick if you don't keep your foot on it."

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NHL Rule 57-d:

If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed. The player who deflected the puck shall be credited with the goal.

The goal shall not be allowed if the puck has been intentionally kicked with his skate or foot, using a distinct kicking motion, and subsequently enters the net.

A goal shall be allowed unless a distinct kicking motion is evident.

I know I shouldn't be bringing this up again. I'll just leave it at that.

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In spite of the poor offensive performance against Vancouver, the lines were the same this morning at practice.

Nothing really exciting, to tell you the truth. The team is healthy and lines look the same as they did Saturday:

Eriksson-Richards-Lehtinen
Neal-Ribeiro-Ott
Morrow-Wandell-Benn
Some combination of Petersen-Sutherby-Modano-Barch

Grossman-Robidas
Skrastins-Daley
Fistric-Niskanen

Woywitka

Turco
Auld

That sounds like a good thing to me. These players might benefit from some more consistency in the lineup night in and night out. And personally, I'd like to see more Sutherby.

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