Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and Texas Stars news, as well as a look at what's happening around the Pacific division and the rest of the NHL.
Busy day today in the real world as I spent all day in court (not for me), so all of this incredible Dallas Stars analysis I was planning (does anyone realize we only have one healthy righty on this team?) will have to wait for tomorrow. In the meantime, plenty of other stuff to check out and discuss.
Today in Stargazing: Fabian Brunnstrom gets some more media attention and not in a good way, the Dallas Stars are in Cedar Park, Texas and working hard, a look at the projected lines for the season opener and..........ICE GIRLS!!!! In bikinis!!!!
Hit the jump to find out more.
Last week the talk about Fabian Brunnstrom really started to heat up here at Defending Big D. We took a close look at Brunnstrom's play compared to Jamie Benn's, and hypothesized that perhaps what was best for the second-year Swede was some extended time in the AHL. What's been really interesting to watch is that since we published that article on Benn and Brunnstrom, they've continued their trend of play and it's become perhaps the biggest question surrounding the team, aside from the lack of cohesion of comfort in the new system of course.
We've since found out that if he plays six more games in the NHL, he would have to pass through waivers if he was demoted. So, either he goes now or the Stars play him five games and reevaluate after that.
The biggest issue surrounding Brunnstrom and the AHL was whether or not he would accept a demotion. When he was signed, he and Les Jackson had an agreement he wouldn't spend any time in the AHL. Now, he did play part of one game with Manitoba last season, but that was more of a rehab start than a demotion. Yesterday in Cedar Park, Mike Heika raised the question to Brunnstrom and got a surprising yet encouraging answer:
"Of course, everyone wants to play in the NHL, and I believe that I can play in the NHL, so that is my first option," he said. "But if I am not playing at all, I don't think that would be good. I think you have to be playing somewhere."
Translated: "If I'm playing so poorly that I'm only getting six to nine minutes a game on the fourth line, I'd much rather be playing in the AHL and getting significant time on the ice."
Despite what some thought of Brunnstrom last season and his apparent refusal to play in the AHL, he's not a bad guy and is reportedly a great teammate. He knows that he's struggling right now and he wants to improve and do what is best for the team. We haven't heard one peep of discontent about his demotion to the fourth line, and to me his disappointing play has nothing to do with lack of effort. He's not comfortable or confident and shies away from physicality. He's right back to where he was a year ago.
It appears that he will accept a demotion if that's what is good for the team and he's exactly right in his thought process as well: Brunnstrom is not a fourth line player and playing there in the NHL will not help him improve and get his groove back.
The Stars aren't in any rush, but they know that there's work to be done.
"I think we just need to be patient with him right now," said Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk. "We have 23 players on the roster, and there's no need to rush that decision. I think we have time to look at things."
"Ultimately, he's going to be a good player, but he still has to concentrate on the habits that are needed to play at a very high level," Marc Crawford said. "When he wants to, he can really move. He's so big and strong. And he protects the puck so well. But he has to want to have those habits all of the time.
"You look at him and he scored 17 goals last year, and there were probably only 200 people in the league who did that, so he's a very elite talent. We just have to work on his consistency."
These could be the lines we see when the Dallas Stars hit the ice on Saturday night:
I could live with that.
After the Stars disastrous dress rehearsal on Saturday night against the Blues, my first reaction was that this team needed to just get away. Last week was long, tiring and just did not go well. Good thing that getaway was already planned.
The Dallas Stars are currently in Central Texas, just north of Austin, wrapping up the 2009 Training Camp with some team bonding and helping the new AHL Texas Stars debut in Cedar Park.
The team bussed down on Sunday and checked in to the Horseshoe Bay Resort, followed by a putting contest that saw a team led by Brenden Morrow (surprise) take the top prize. The team in involved in several off-ice activities over the next couple of days, mixed in around practices (and even a little golf). The team is practicing at the brand new Cedar Park Center – home of the Texas Stars.
Here a nice interview with Jeff Woywitka, who I'll admit I was skeptical of coming into the season. But he's shown some promise and should be a solid #7 defenseman.
Why did you decide to come to Dallas this summer out of free agency?
Woywitka: There were a few options, but Dallas just seemed to be the best fit. I’ve played here before as a member of a visiting team. It’s a nice city, and just from talking to [Brian Sutherby], this is a first-class organization. Everybody opens their arms here, helps you out and gets you settled in nicely, and I’m getting very comfortable.
Mark Stepneski has some prospect notes, including this update:
Tomas Vincour had two goals and four assists in three games for the Edmonton Oil Kings last Kings last week, and now has three goals and four assists in four games. He has picked up at least one point in all four games.
Scott Glennie has also returned to the ice, and has one goal and assist in two games with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Down Goes Brown (one of my favorite hockey blogs) has their season previews up. They have this incredibly insightful gem on the Dallas Stars upcoming season:
Fearless forecast: The team is much-improved thanks to the unveiling of a clever new trick play known as "Marty Turco actually make a save".
The Texas Stars lost yesterday in a shootout to the Houston Aeros. Matt Climie continues to have a strong preseason, picking up 35 saves in the loss. From the Texas Stars press release:
The Texas Stars were defeated by the Houston Aeros 3-2 in a shootout on Monday night at the Cedar Park Center. Despite making 35 saves, Texas goalie Matt Climie took the preseason loss. Houston's Peter Zingoni sealed the Aeros win in the shootout, beating Climie to end the game. Defenseman Brandon Straub and center Kevin DeVergilio each scored in the Texas loss. Houston's Gregg Johnson and Chad Rau each scored in the Aeros' win. Houston goalie Wade Dubielewicz picked up the win with 24 saves in regulation. Texas will host the NHL's Dallas Stars Wednesday at 7:00 pm at the Cedar Park Center.
The formation of the Texas Stars is a big step in spreading the popularity of hockey in Texas, but the Dallas Stars are ecstatic to not only have an AHL affiliate, but have one within shouting distance as well.
"It’s huge," said Nieuwendyk. "If you look back to last year we had all of our prospects scattered all across the country and that made it incredibly difficult. When you can have all of your prospects in one place and all of the coaches are on the same page and know what is expected, it makes it a much better situation."
Don't forget, Battle of the Stars takes place tomorrow night at the Cedar Park Center. You can go here for tickets if you are in the area.
And finally, I leave you with with the Dallas Stars Ice Girls....At The Lake.