If you would have told me the Dallas Stars would have come out of the first prolonged road-trip this season with at least a .500 record and four points, I would have been quite pleased.
But after the Stars 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, the Stars have a chance to do much better and have already clinched at least a semi-decent trip thanks to the quick-strike offense of Loui Eriksson and the stellar netminding of Kari Lehtonen.
And for those who are concerned about the number of shots the Stars give up night after night, the man who has to face them, Lehtonen, seems to be dealing with it rather well even after his team was outshot 33-19 in the victory.
"You have to look at the other way, too," Lehtonen said. "We've been getting the lead early and it just happens that other teams start shooting more and getting more pressure in our zone."
The Stars started 5-1-0 last season and still missed the playoffs by two points, so they are understandably restrained about their hot start.
"What happened last year -- we know and remember how hard that was," Lehtonen said. "We don't want that to happen again. On the other hand, we started where we are last year, too, and we faded away a bit when other teams started to get better, so hopefully we can work and get better as a team."
After the jump, more about Friday's victory over the Ducks, a look ahead to tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings and are hockey fights really that bad for your brain? Somebody actually put money into researching that question.
- Quick and dirty recap (with video highlights) from Mark Stepneski. [ESPN Dallas]
- For those of you with access to the paywall, Mike Heika talks the upswing in offense from the Stars top two lines. And to think we were worried about them after the home-and-home with Chicago. [DallasNews.com]
- You know how Razor is always saying the Stars look tired in the midst of a roadtrip? Well the Los Angeles Times advances the idea that the Ducks might have been too rested, which is why they had such trouble starting periods. Uh... sure. Though I do appreciate any story that worked in Randy Carlyle's brilliant flapjacks quote. [Los Angeles Times]
- Our friends at Anaheim Calling are touting the rusty theory as well. And I can't say I agree with their assessment of the no-goal call. For one, you're never allowed to use your elbow to make space - if it contacts somebody else, that's elbowing. And two, like I said in my diatribe about goalie interference on Thursday, the key to crowding is where the goalie is, not the forward, and while Corey Perry was working his feet in and out of the crease, Lehtonen was totally inside of it and therefore has the first right to that ice without "more than incidental" contact from a forward. It was clearly a good call. [Anaheim Calling]
- Stop me if you've heard this before - Kari Lehtonen is NHL.com's No. 1 Star of the night. [NHL.com]
- Also, Eriksson gets some love after his pair of goals as Puck Daddy named him the No. 2 star of the night. [Puck Daddy]
- Which leads us to the Tweet of the night: "@MWhickerOCR: Gretzky has the alltime single-season goals record only because Loui Eriksson doesn't play 82 games against the Ducks." [Twitter]
- And Puck Daddy also thinks George Parros might be awaiting a call from the Shanahammer after his drive by swipe to the head of Krys Barch. I'm kind of torn on this one. On one hand, I think it's pretty clearly a low-end Rule 48 violation (though article author Harrison Mooney is insane if he thinks this at all resembles the Sidney Crosby collision with David Steckel). On the other, I think Parros did try to pull out of it, though being as late as it was, I guess there's no excuse for making it in the first place. I don't know his full suspension history, but if it's a first time, 1-2 games would make me happy. If he's a repeat, 4-6. [Puck Daddy]
- The Washington Capitals gay hockey fans blog Puck Buddys has added a Dallas correspondent, and he went on a date to a recent game. [Puck Buddys]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: Probably the only goalie who could legitimately challenge Lehtonen for hottest goalie in the NHL right now is Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who has a 0.97 GAA and .967 save percentage. Those numbers are quite sparkling. [LA Kings Insider]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: Bill Simmonds is looking for a Los Angeles-based team to follow during the NBA lockout, and he's settled on the Kings. The column devolves into a discussion of the business of the NBA lockout, but I thought it was interesting to see how that could lead to a lot of stories like this. [Grantland.com]
- Around the Pacific Division: The San Jose Sharks came back in dramatic fashion to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in the shootout but lost forward Torrey Mitchell to the dreaded upper-body injury. [San Jose Mercury News]
- Brett Hull talks a subject he knows very well - tasty goodness. [Dallas Observer]
- An interesting scientific study on the concussion risk from a hockey fight. Now, I'm not quite sure about all the methodology in how they determined the risk of concussion from a normal check (4.5 percent seems high because that would mean essentially one player a game would end up with a concussion), but having people trained in research look at a question like this is always interesting. [Health Day]