For today's history lesson, let's go back to what used to be everyone's favorite season of the last 10 years, 2007-2008. Marty Turco and Mike Smith were starting year two of Project Ultimate Backup Goalie. Smith was coming off a rookie season where he went 12-5-2 with a solid .912 SV%, and Turco was still the goalie who could do this. Things were looking good between the pipes, and the Stars were already ordering their Jennings Trophy display case from that one display case company that only makes money around graduation time each year.
Anyway, due to one of a few Mike Smith injuries that season, the Stars suddenly found themselves recalling one Tobias Stephan for an October start against the then-mighty-and-also-every-year-since-mighty Chicago Blackhawks. Leading up to the opening faceoff, everyone in Dallas seemed prepared to write off the game and move on. Fortunately, Stephan was still driving up from Iowa and must have missed the pre-game apathy pills everyone took, because he ended up completely blanking Chicago for basically the whole game, kind of, if you round up from 59:58 to 60:00. Chicago outshot Dallas 40-18--gee, that sounds familiar--and you could say that Stephan stood on his head, but 1) that would be a lie, and 2) he would not have stopped 38 shots even if he had stood on his head because that's a terrible strategy.
Despite the fact that Stephan looked a bit frantic at times that night, there was still a good amount of reassurance to be found in how easily Dallas produced capable backup goalies in a pinch. The Stars would not feel that way again for a long time, though, as Smith was dealt to Tampa Bay the following spring in what would be forever known as the big Johan Holmqvist trade. The result? Well...
*Note* If you want to skip the next paragraph, let me summarize with this fact: Marty Turco started 74 games in 2008-2009.
Stephan would appear in 10 more games with Dallas, winning a grand total of one of them. Dallas would continue to search for a capable backup goalie season after season, but, just like Link fishing in the wrong part of the lake with the wrong lure, they never found what they were looking for. We were treated to brief cameos from the likes of Brent Krahn and Matt Climie, and we had to grin and bear it through the days of the not-quite backups like Alex Auld and Dan Ellis. We even had flashes of potential from Nilstorp and Bachman until the AHL reclaimed them. (And maybe for the better. Let us never forget Nilstorp and his part in the Texas Stars' Calder Cup.)
Andrew Raycroft was arguably the most successful of the bunch, if starting 13 games is a success. He went 8-5 with a .910 SV% in 2010-2011 before brutally regressing to the mean the following year (2-8, .898). As for more recent history, everyone knows why Tim Thomas was brought in to take over for Dan Ellis.
In a way, actually, Thomas in Dallas looked quite a bit like Stephan did on that night almost seven years ago. Results aside, the way he played (and, at times, the team in front of him) just didn't give the observers any confidence. That seems to be what Jim Nill is anxious to change.
Confidence is always the key word you hear when it comes to goaltenders. And one can't help but think, especially with the one-way contract given to Jussi Rynnas, that Dallas is anxious for some of their second-string guys to start finding some confidence themselves and forcing Jim Nill's hand. Anders Lindback could well be a success story waiting to happen and Jack Campbell is the future that we've been hearing about for years, but until Mike Valley can pass along some permanent goaltending zen to the guys behind Kari, we're going to be stuck remembering the days of the Moose.
Personally, though, I'll never forget his poke checks. Miss ya, Johan.
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Now for those savory links you've been so patiently waiting for:
I'm starting to think that Jason Spezza is pretty good. Evidence:
Exhibit A: He really wants to win. This is encouraging. [Dallas Morning News]
Exhibit B: The Stars apparently had to qualify for the playoffs just to be eligible to sign him. That must mean he's not messing around. [Puck Daddy]
And speaking of teams that really wanted Jason Spezza, the Nashville Predators have signed Anton Volchenkov, which is great for them... [Nashville Predators]
...But they also lost Mike Fisher for a while, which is not so great. [Nashville Predators]
However, if a team (like Nashville, cough cough) is looking for a skilled free agent center who won't be looking for a huge contract, then great news: Mike Ribeiro is definitely available, if anyone wants him. Let's stop for a moment and be grateful that the Stars no longer have to fight the internal struggle of weighing Six Shades of Sexy against arrests for public intoxication. [CBSSports]
Jewels from the Crown has a very mathematically sound suggestion to improve the NHL points system. At least, I think it's mathematically sound. (Note to self: Before publishing, ask Josh why so many of these equations have letters AND numbers on the same lines. Rewrite his explanation and insert as my original thoughts here.) [Jewels from the Crown]
Lastly, I present Anders Lindback barely containing his excitement as he talks about his tough year with Tampa Bay.