So the Stars have been picking it up lately in the shots on goal department. While tonight's opponent the Chicago Blackhawks rank 2nd in the league with 34.0 shots per game, Dallas currently rank 7th with an average of 31.6. And if you were to look at the last nine games, that average goes up to 33.2 per game. The 45 shots on Sunday afternoon against Edmonton certainly raised that number, but a bigger contribution came from the recent surge of Ryan Garbutt. Over the past seven games Garbutt has put 32 pucks on net, with four of them finding their way in. He also has a pair of assists in that span. Not bad for a guy who only had 14 points in his first 69 NHL games. [Sports Day DFW]
Part of the difference is a challenge issued by Lindy Ruff after Garbutt returned from his suspension for the hit on Anaheim's Dustin Penner. The challenge was to play a cleaner game, avoiding costly penalties and over-aggression... or stay on the bench. Garbutt's response on the ice has been impressive, to say the least, and this quote on the situation is quite illuminating.
"I took [the challenge] in a positive light. It's obviously fun playing for Lindy. He's a great coach and I like to listen to everything he has to say. After he challenged me following the five-game suspension, I've tried to play a different kind of game. I've tried to be smarter out there and use my speed to my advantage." [Stars Inside Edge]
Strong words of praise for Lindy, and you could say that Garbutt has been using his speed to the Stars' advantage as well his own. Long may it continue...
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The Blackhawks are returning to Chicago after their annual Circus Road Trip, a seven game swing this season. The Stars already have two losses at home against the Hawks this season, but both games were played close. We'll see how they fare tonight in Chicago. [Stars Inside Edge] [Sports Day DFW] [ESPN]
And speaking of honors, Ryan Garbutt is awarded Underdog of the Week. Everybody loves an underdog, right? [Too Many Men on the Site]
So I feel there's something terribly wrong with the world when an article can talk about how well the Stars are playing, and in the same breath mention that they have hardly a prayer at a post-season berth. [SI.com]
Here's a feature I hadn't seen before. Pluses and minuses around the NHL. I mean, I've seen that as a 'feature,' just not this particular one. [LA Times]
Alternate standings! Yeah yeah, it doesn't do anything for the Stars, but after seeing a lot of talk about changing the point format (3 point games, no loser points, etc), here's a study actually showing what would happen. Or at least one alternate method. [Puck Daddy]
A book review? Well, yeah. It's Bobby Orr's book. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
Interview with Don Lucia, head coach for the USA national team in the upcoming 2014 World Junior Championships. [International Ice Hockey Federation]
Uh-oh. The Maple Leafs have started losing. Fancy stats are catching up to them! Also, other Canadian teams are losing. Which you might not care about, but it's Down Goes Brown's Weekend in Hockey. Thus you should read it. [Grantland]
And lastly, Comedy Tweets of the Week! Compiled by Megalodon, but don't let that stop you. [Battle of California]