It feels like I've been writing about Brenden Morrow a lot in this spot, especially relative to his production this season, but I finally figured out why Monday afternoon.
Daryl Reaugh pondered the effect the Dallas Stars captain's absence has had on the lineup this season, and he hit on something I hadn't been able to put into words yet.
A healthy Morrow is exactly what the Stars need on their top lines right now. If you were going to make up a prototypical guy to trade for, assuming of course, you had the assets you felt comfortable giving up for him, his combination of physical play, goal scoring and intimidation would be absolutely ideal.
The problem is, of course, he's not healthy, and he hasn't been for a while now. And that, whether you consider it an inevitable breakdown of a player of his style or just a bad injury that has lingered for far too long, is inescapable.
This season he's been a hollow shell of his former self, a facsimile. No longer able to be the alpha male in every corner and win every net front battle, he has appeared frustrated - which has led to penalties. And it has bothered him. He has felt like a bad teammate and leader when we all know he is the exact opposite. He used to be a pain to play against, now he's just in pain - constantly.
The Stars have missed his leadership. Not dressing room speeches or social co-ordinating but rather his style, drive, and passion. When healthy, Brenden invigorates the lineup, he changes momentum, he competes. He helps you win.
The scary part is given what we know about his injury, I'm suspicious it can't be fixed without something major like surgery with a prolonged recovery time. So no matter how much the team needs him and no matter how much he wants to be the guy he was in 2008, it's probably not going to happen for a while.
- The Red Wings have been really, really good at home lately, and we'll get to exactly how good later. But the Stars also desperately need to get on a roll. [ESPN Dallas]
- In this paywalled advance, Mike Heika takes a look at why the Detroit Red Wings are such a success story over the past 20 years and what teams like the Stars can take from them. After all, it's nearly unheard of to be consistently this good in a 30-team era, though the number of Cups the Wings have won are far outmatched by the true dynasties. [DallasNews.com]
- It was a fairly lightly attended optional practice before travel on Monday, so there's not a whole lot of new Stars information out there. The Stars, however, are there to fill your hockey information needs with a decent little feature about how Adam Burish is adding face offs to his arsenal of talents. [DallasStars.com]
- Open up your rumor mills and checkbooks, Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets might be on the market this trade deadline. [Puck Daddy]
- The Chicago Blackhawks are doing their best 2010-11 Stars impression by trying to go from comfortably in the playoff race at the All-Star break to completely out of it. But even though they've lost eight in a row, general manager Stan Bowman says coach Joel Quenneville's job is safe. [CSNChicago]
- The Wheel O' Justice has spun again, landing on two games for Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers after his charge against Jonathan Ericsson. [NHL.com]
- I'm not sure if I buy this idea that hockey is violent because it took on its modern form during an era where people were living fairly violent lives, because baseball, basketball and football all came into their modern forms in a fairly similar era. But this is still a really neat story about what one amateur team had to go through just to get back home. [Backhand Shelf]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: Yeah, about that Red Wings consecutive home games winning streak. It's really really good. Record-setting type of good. [Detroit Free Press]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: The Red Wings most recent win over the Philadelphia Flyers wasn't the most impressive of their streak, but as we've found out, style points really don't matter at this point of the year. Read a pretty solid breakdown of that game from our friends at Winging it in Motown. [Winging it in Motown]
- Around the Pacific Division, the games: Even when they don't win, the Phoenix Coyotes keep finding ways to pick up points. Keith Yandle scored with about two minutes left in regulation as the Yotes fell 2-1 in the shootout to the Vancouver Canucks. The San Jose Sharks employed that dastardly "shooting from center ice" technique to score on the Washington Capitals in a 5-3 win. [TSN/San Jose Mercury News]
- Around the Pacific Division, the roster moves: Even further back in the playoff hunt than the Stars are the Anaheim Ducks, who rearranged some deck chairs on Monday by trading to the Winnipeg Jets for Riley Hozapfel (Gesundheit) and calling up Nate Guenin. [SB Nation]
- I will warn you, once you see the Alice Cooper bobblehead to be given away by the Coyotes, it can't be unseen. [Puck Daddy]
- Like I said, the optional practice means there wasn't a whole lot available from Monday. But coach Glen Gulutzan did speak to the media about the game tonight and the sense of urgency this team desperately needs to feed off of.