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Stargazing: Dallas Stars drop to 2-3 in pre-season play

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars news, as well as a look at what's happening around the Pacific division and the rest of the NHL.

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When I saw that the Stars had scheduled 4 games in 5 nights, and that they were cutting players to send to Texas Stars training camp in Cedar Park, I wondered just how they were going to make that work. Two games in and we're still scratching our heads as the Stars dropped their second game in as many nights to the same team, and for seemingly (we didn't see or hear the game) the same reasons: The special teams play. Dallas had several power play opportunities in the third period from which it appears they gained little momentum, and in one case actually allowed a short handed goal.

 

Meanwhile Jamie Benn scored again, and has all but carried the Stars anemic offense in 3 of their 5 games now. He is practically demanding to be on this team come opening night (as Brandon wrote about yesterday on Defending Big D). Marty Turco stopped 25 of 29, Mark Fistric found the penalty box again, Trevor Daley led Dallas in ice time with 23:13. Fabian Brunnstrom was a minus-2, and Vishnevskiy a minus-4 on the evening. You can find the box score here, but there isn't much to see.

Enough of that, and on to the news:

After the jump, a timetable for Hicks' sale of the Rangers? Vegas odds makers weigh in on the Stars chances, Razor gives his observations, and Coach Crawford speaks of the crazy pre-season schedule...



 

When asked about the hectic pre-season schedule, Coach Crawford said that he views it more as an opportunity:

"I think it's a great setup," said Crawford, who has been trying to install a new system before the Oct. 3 season opener. "It's practice, reinforcement, game evaluation, and within that, there's a day off that everybody needs. We'll come out of there, and I think we'll be in good shape."

Stars captain Brenden Morrow looks forward to the challenge. Morrow, who had knee surgery Dec. 2, has played in just one of the three preseason games so far, and said he still needs time to get up and running.

"You can go through all the practices you want, but it doesn't equal a game," Morrow said. "We need it for the timing and for the practice, but we also need it for the conditioning and getting back into game shape."

I have to admit that with the travel, the rotating rosters, and the lack of regular practices, I find myself wondering how they're supposed to work on the things they're doing wrong during a stretch of 4 games in 5 nights.

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Joe Nieuwendyk spent some time on the Panther bench and subsequently the front office as a special assistant to the General Manager, and the Florida papers honored Joe with a little coverage this week as the two teams met:

Nieuwendyk, 43, spent much of the morning skate chatting with old acquaintances from his Florida days and sat next to acting Florida GM Randy Sexton a few rows off the ice. At one point, Rostislav Olesz came by to greet him. The two are still close from their days as teammates not too long ago.

``I know him as a teammate, a guy who sat next to me in the locker room and was really the first guy to try and help me out,'' said Olesz, who was basically adopted by Nieuwendyk's family during the 2005-06 season, when Olesz was a soft-spoken rookie from the Czech Republic.

``He took care of me. I think of him as my best friend. I grew up with his family.''

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The ever astute Razor Reaugh offers one possible reason for the teams sluggish performance, at least on Tuesday night...

Camp Fatigue – Many Stars veterans looked like they were skating on a mud bog. Crawford’s camp has emphasized tempo and demanded a lot of leg work and it seems to have taken a toll. He likes to play his top forwards a lot too, A LOT. They love that but it can also be taxing, especially when they aren’t used to it and that might be a factor right now – they are being pushed harder than in recent memory with the goal probably to improve the overall fitness of the group, firmly entrench the work-ethic and, long term, make the games seem exponentially easier than the practices.

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A matter near and dear to Stars fans hearts is Tom Hicks pending sale of the Texas Rangers, and the bidding appears to be down to three specific groups:

 The three potential buyers are Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who runs his own freight-forwarding company; Chuck Greenberg, a minor league baseball team owner and sports attorney who helped negotiate the Penguins deal in 1999; and Dennis Gilbert, whose sports agency once represented baseball home run king Barry Bonds, according to three sources familiar with the sales process.

The Rangers are expected to draw bids of around $550 million, sports bankers and baseball officials have said.

"Identifying a winner should occur before year end," said one of the sources, all of whom asked not to be identified.

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Puck Daddy brings you some Vegas odds and predictions on the season. Evidently the pre-season play is not inspiring much in the way of confidence in your Dallas Stars...

Western Conference

Team

2008-09 Points

2009-10 Points Projection

San Jose Sharks

117

107.5

Detroit Red Wings

112

106.5

Chicago Blackhawks

104

105.5

Anaheim Ducks

91

96.5

Calgary Flames

98

96.5

Vancouver Canucks

100

96.5

St. Louis Blues

92

91.5

Dallas Stars (tie)

Edmonton Oilers (tie)

83

85

89.5

89.5

 

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Around the NHL: