Opinions are like...mothers, let's say. Everybody's got one. Last season Defending Big D writers opined that the Dallas Stars would finish 11th, 9th, 8th, 12th and 7th in the NHL's Western Conference. Average it out and it was 9.4th, if you will. That turned out to be pretty spot on if you consider our aggregate opinion and the heartbreaking outcome on April 10th of last season, though none of us quite knew how they would reach 9th place.
This season we've changed our lineup and the Stars have changed theirs significantly. Meaningless though they may be, we'll try our hand at these predictions again with a few new voices and see if we come close for a second year in a row 82 games later.
We'll also take your opinion in a poll and let the arguments begin below in the comments, civil and even-handed as always, of course...
The predictions of the DBD crew and the poll after the jump...
Brandon Worley: 8th place.
"That's right, I'm predicting that the team with the lowest salary in the NHL is going to sneak into the postseason in an incredibly competitive Western Conference. When a team loses a superstar, sometimes it helps the roster become more cohesive overall as it requires a full effort from everyone to be successful. With Gulutzan's new approach as coach, I think the Stars are going to surprise some people."
Brad Gardner: 10th place
"This team will be much more competitive than the national media thinks. I think the 7-1 losses to Vancouver and the like are over and done with. They'll be in the mix every night. The problem is that on the other hand I can't find seven teams in the uber difficult West I think Dallas is definitively better than at this moment in time until they prove otherwise. Too many teams WCF got better in the summer, and the Stars, though they mitigated the losses as best as they possibly could given the extremity of their financial situation and pending ownership change, lost a superstar. Jamie Benn might ease their suffering and take a big step forward, but team-wide consistency and health will be big question marks, as they were last year. I beg them to prove me wrong."
Art Middleton: 12th place
"Look, it's not like I don't want to believe, I like that the Stars forward depth has gotten deeper, but I've always believed that team needs a go-to scorer and the Stars lost that over the summer and we don't know if there is anyone that can step up now. Defense has improved some but still has a lot of question marks. The Stars are headed in the right direction to becoming a very stable, consistent playoff team, but I just don't think that happens this year."
Taylor Baird: 8th place
"The solid goaltending from Kari Lehtonen and some better defense in front of him will see the goals differential be much better for the Stars this season. Jamie Benn, Mike Ribeiro, and Michael Ryder will lead the team in scoring. The overall depth and the ability to roll more than two lines with a scoring threat will see the Stars sneak into the playoffs as the last seed in the west."
Erin B: 9th place
"While the Stars have made several upgrades to the forward depth and defensive puck-moving ability, there are still too many question marks and not enough overall depth to make up for the inevitable injuries. On the plus side, I'm anticipating more scoring from the defense and lower lines, a 60-point season from Jamie Benn and Kari Lehtonen to be his steady self. But I think there's not quite enough top-end scorers, and there's still a question mark about the consistency of backup goalie Andrew Raycroft.
Best case scenario, they sneak into the playoffs in one of the final two berths. But I'm expecting them to finish just outside once again."
Josh Lile: 11th place
"The Stars goal differential was below average last season, and that was with Brad Richards. The system, development of Benn, and additions at forward will help mitigate some of the Richards loss. With Richards, though, the team still wasn't very good, and I don't see that they're much better while the competition appears to be better. The power play should be better with Goligoski, and the penalty killing will improve. I think they could finish anywhere between 9th and 13th out West."
Brandon Bibb: 10th place
"And it's not necessarily that the Stars are a bad team. The problem is the Western Conference has been ridiculously competitive over the past two seasons. And this season, the only team in the top 8 from last season that could fall out for the Stars to pick off is Phoenix. Everybody else figures to be just as good this year, if not better.
Joe Nieuwendyk did the best he could to offset the loss of Brad Richards by signing guys that would fit more easily into Glen Gulutzan's system. But you don't lose a point producer like Richards on the offensive end and not feel it. And speaking of Gulutzan, I know he had success in the minors as a head coach, inviting comparisons to Ken Hitchcock. But even Hitch went through an adjustment period and had the services of Pat Verbeek and Sergei Zubov, along with an 'in his prime' Mike Modano to help in his first full season.
Things are looking up for the club. But they're not quite there yet."
So there you have it. Our predictions, 100% guaranteed to fail. What's your outlook on the season and their ultimate fate?
Where will the Stars finish the 2011-2012 season in the WCF?
1st-5th place. I dream big. (60 votes)
6th place (47 votes)
7th place (81 votes)
8th place (76 votes)
9th place (27 votes)
10th-12th place (41 votes)
13th-15th place (6 votes)
338 total votes