The Dallas Stars have been described many places on the internet recently as one of the biggest surprises of the season. A team that was universally picked to finish out of the playoffs near the 12th or 13th seed before the season began has a 16-9-2 record and is right in the the thick of things. I think you could call most Stars fans "pleasantly surprised" at this point. Which made me think "Who is the biggest pleasant surprise on the team itself?"
A tricky subject, because to be a "pleasant surprise" one must almost necessarily start in a disadvantageous and/or unfavorable light in the eyes of those judging the "pleasantness" of the surprise, in this case you, the Stars fan. No offense to any players mentioned hereafter is intended.
So we're not putting Brad Richards, Loui Eriksson or James Neal on this list, who are the team leaders in points. We kind of expected that. We've selected four players for you, but if someone else has been a pleasant surprise do let us hear about it in the comments...
Andrew Raycroft: With a 2.14 GAA and a .935 save percentage, Raycroft's been everything you want from your backup netminder and more. He had a couple of rough outings, yes, in Colorado and Chicago but I think the team would take some of the blame on those ones. His win over the Capitals was brilliant and helped the team on their way to a six game win streak. He's stopped 157 of 168 shots faces and will likely get the start tonight against Carolina.
Jeff Woywitka: Mark Fistric was the great hope of the "improvement from within" defense we talked about all summer long, particularly after his loft plus/minus rating last season. When Fistric was injured in practice (groin), Woywitka stepped into the lineup and has been getting better ever since. He's been a solid, calming presence in his own zone, building his own +/- to +8 as of this morning. (This is my pick, btw)
Trevor Daley: After an uneven start to the season, Daley is surging. He's +7 in his last eight games and has five points in that span. He played perhaps one of his most complete games ever in Columbus on Monday night and is looking good in all three zones. His 12 points through 27 games has him on a career pace. Consistency is his challenge going forward but this latest stretch shows us what he's capable of.
Brandon Segal: Five points in his last four games and a +4 in that span has Segal's stock soaring. After being scratched in consecutive games in late November he has contributed magnificently and has found a temporary home with Steve Ott and and Adam Burish. That's thought of as a defensive line but he's racking up the points lately. He has not recorded a minus in his last 12 appearances.