With the first half of the 2011-12 season now in the books, the Dallas Stars are in a pretty decent position heading into the season's latter stages.
Sure, they haven't been able to maintain the hot start that saw them jump out as one of the top teams in the league in October and November.
But they still control their own destiny, and for a team near the bottom of the league's salary floor, that's certainly an accomplishment.
Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he is pleased with how his team has come along this season, even after Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. But he does want his players to take the game as a reminder that the type of urgency they've taken into games against the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins is something they need for every remaining game.
``We have to realize that we're a team that's battling for fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth in our conference, and battling to try to win our division, so it's not going to be easy for us, it's not going to just happen,'' Gulutzan said Wednesday after practice. ``So you've got to stick with what works, and if we don't get the results we want right away, we have to just keep sticking with it, and I don't think we always do a good job of that.''
After the jump, more on tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings, All-Star musings from the CHL to the NHL and the return of hockey hugs.
- All the first-half quick-hit points you need to know from Mark Stepneski. [ESPN Dallas]
- Even with Philip Larsen still on the shelf with concussion-like symptoms, the return of Sheldon Souray from a sprained ankle means the Stars are at a corps of seven healthy defensemen. They will likely play six tonight, including possibly re-paring Souray and Stephane Robidas. [DallasNews.com]
- More first-half analysis, this time from the official site. I don't know if I'd say the team "maintained a level of consistency" throughout the first 41 games, but I think what he's trying to say is they didn't fall off a cliff like the Edmonton Oilers or like the Minnesota Wild are trying to do. [DallasStars.com]
- The All-Star reserves will be announced later this afternoon, and on Wednesday, a few outlets put out their projected rosters. While I do appreciate the love for Loui Eriksson, I have to ask... why him over Jamie Benn? [Puck Daddy/NHL.com]
- Colton Sceviour helped the boys down in Austin to a nice, dramatic win on Wednesday. [Hundred Degree Hockey]
- And Texas Brahmas goalie Mark Guggenberger (bless you) got the win the CHL All-Star game. [DallasNews.com]
- There isn't a lot of breaking news in this profile of Tom Gaglardi, but there are some interesting tidbits about possible future front-office moves, including maybe bringing Mark Recchi in in some capacity. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Here's a shocker - after demolishing his relationship with the Stars, the mayor of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, says his city will likely not host any NHL training camp in 2012. And good riddance to you too, sir. [The Guardian]
- Last week it was the underrated guys. This week, 161 NHL players pick the most overrated players in the league. [Sports Illustrated]
- Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was, um, not pleased with the list. [The Star]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: Our friends at Jewels From The Crown have a really interesting statistical breakdown of the West that's based around the concept of "points blown." [Jewels From The Crown]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: I know, I know, I should drop the Dustin Penner thing (or if you rather, his stack of delicious, back-spasm causing pancakes) already. But he seems to be taking it well, and has even come up with a way to make some money for charity off of the whole deal. [Mayors Manor]
- Around the Pacific Division: The San Jose Sharks did a solid job recently when they stopped by to see paralyzed teenage hockey player Jack Jablonski before their game against the Wild. [Fox Sports North]
- The excited Swedes edition of hockey hugs has arrived. [Puck Daddy]
- This is a pretty comprehensive interview with coach Glen Gulutzan about the halfway point of the season and some of the things he saw in the loss to the Anaheim Ducks. But what intrigues me the most is that Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" is playing in the background for a good portion. Workout music? Team prank? Inquiring minds want to know.