Tonight's matchup will pit a Dallas Stars team that has had a number of ups and downs over four games, against an Avalanche team that has been the model of consistency. Starting goaltender for the Avalanche, Semyon Varlamov, has allowed just one goal in each of his four starts. And in the one game where the Avs backup played, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, instead of allowing only a single goal, instead recorded a shut out. And this was a team whose strength was supposed to be on the offensive side of the puck! Not that the Avs young attack has disappointed.
So what is it that's leading the Avs to exceed expectations, albeit still in the season's early days? In his column, Barry Melrose suggests that Patrick Roy, and all his craziness, could be the catalyst that's driving this strong showing out of the gates.
"Roy set the tone for this team right off the bat with his confrontation with Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau opening night. He sent a message to his team and he changed the culture. If I was sitting on the bench and my coach stood up for me and did what Patrick did, that would have sent a great message to me." [NHL.com]
As for the Stars, Lindy Ruff is still preaching patience. As a result, Monday's practice was more on fundamentals, with no changes being made to the lines from Saturday's loss. Hopefully the mental errors and sloppy play of Saturday will be proven to be just that, and not symptomatic of deeper issues. There are still a few more games where it can be said the Stars are adjusting to a new system. But at some point that system will need to be proven to work.
And so the inconsistency of the Stars will be put to the test tonight against the red-hot Colorado Avalanche. But I don't care what threats Patrick Roy made to his team should they ever allow more than a single goal against. At some point this season, something's gotta give.
Might as well be tonight.
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Quick Q&A with Lehtonen on his injury. [Sports Day DFW]
Obviously doesn't hold a candle to Defending Big D's prospect reports, but still. [Stars Inside Edge]
Ryan Lambert takes a tour of the league, with the weekly 'What We Learned' feature. Just in case you need to catch up. [Puck Daddy]
And here's a fun one. Any clue what hockey will look like in 30 years time? Fighting completely eliminated? Instant replay and automated calls the norm? Self-cleaning ice rinks that keep the ice permanently fresh? This article takes a proposal of 'Hockey of the Future' made 40 years ago, with the future being today. [Deadspin]