Another week of win-one-lose-one, with time slipping away and games-in-hand being played. These are the dog days of hockey season, where the schedule starts to grind on players and fans alike, and the optimism isn't always as free flowing.
It seems like just yesterday the Stars were celebrating a new owner, sitting atop their division, looking forward to a return trip to the playoffs, and discussing what the name of our "Central Conference" was going to be. Now we're sitting tenth in the conference, the re-alignment is on hold, and the weights off our shoulders seem to be another year away.
Add on top of that the news that Mike Ribeiro will be out of commission until February, and there's not a whole lot to be excited about. I love this team with all my heart, but it's becoming more and more apparent that we need a full complement of healthy roster player if we're going to do anything. The depth is much improved since this summer, but there is still a long way to go.
The week began with a third period collapse at the hands of the cellar-dwelling Anaheim Ducks, and was followed by an up-and-down narrow victory against the Los Angeles Kings. A slow start and an inability to generate offense led to a loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, and the schedule doesn't look to be doing us any favors next week either.
Back to back games against the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings will test the Stars ability to bounce back from last week. Then they'll get two days to rest before another back to back against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota Wild. All of those teams, save the Tampa Bay Lightning, currently sit above the Dallas Stars in the standings, and they're in the East, so it doesn't really matter.
It's not all doom and gloom for the boys in green and gold, however. Jamie Benn finally got the recognition that he deserves for his dominant week last week. He was named to the NHL's three stars, and also named to his first NHL All-Star roster. Sadly, his bromance with Loui Eriksson will likely be put on hold for All-Star weekend, unless injury or personal circumstance forces someone to drop out and free up a spot for the slick Swede. (I'm hoping for it. Loui deserves a return trip.)
My favorite peice of news of from the week was considered a minor footnote at most, but has the potential to pay dividends for the Stars in the long run. The Stars have taken on another reclamation project, this time in the form of former first round pick Angelo Esposito. The Stars sent Ondrej Roman to the Florida Panthers for the rights to Esposito, who had been playing for San Antonio of the AHL.
In 2007, Angelo Esposito was considered one of hockey's top prospects. His play in the QMJHL drew comparisons to Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur. He was the key prospect involved in the trade that send Marian Hossa from Atlanta to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then injuries hit, and they hit hard. His production suffered, his development was stunted, and he got shipped from Atlanta to Florida and eventually Dallas.
He's a long shot, but has received a lot of praise from those around him in San Antonio for his dedication, work-rate, and attitude. He plays a game that relies on speed, creativity, and puck control, but to call him fragile and undersized would be an understatement. Still, the Stars have reclaimed failed prospects in the past and turned them into core members of this team.
If Angelo Esposito can get back a little of the spark he showed with the Quebec Remparts in the mid 2000's, it will be well worth the price.