Are you ready for some Pacific Division hockey?
Yes, we're about to officially start the portion of the season where it seems like the Dallas Stars play the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and eventually the San Jose Sharks one of ever three games or so as the Stars play Games 2-4 of a four-game road trip out on the West Coast.
It all starts tonight with a 9 p.m. game at Anaheim, which has started off 4-1-0 behind the no-longer-dizzy Jonas Hiller and boasts notorious Star-killer and ageless wonder Teemu Selanne.
While I might already be sick of these teams, the players are thankfully taking things a little more seriously and know late losses to all of these teams might be what kept them out of the playoffs last season.
"Those divisional games are always important. You’re battling against those guys to make the playoffs at the end of it all," said forward Steve Ott. "Anytime you can pick up points against your division, your rivals, those are the ones that always seem to find their way at the end of the year. They are just as important now as they are going to be throughout the season. For us, we are going to have to go in there with that mentality to grab points."
After the jump, Sheldon Souray might be a little dinged up, how much debt the Stars actually have and the Houston Chronicle takes on the Sean Avery situation.
- On the same day me and some other people write nice about Sheldon Souray, he has to go and miss practice for a "maintenance day" and get what sounds like a cortisone injection in his wrist. While he is expected to play tonight against the Ducks, it does tempt me to not write a nice word about anyone else the rest of the season to protect them from harm. [DallasNews.com]
- Or maybe it's Puck Daddy's fault. Yes, blame them, not me. And enjoy some laughter at the expense of the uber-touchy Edmonton Oilers fans in the comments. [Puck Daddy]
- Speaking of Souray, here's a breakdown (though a... less than critical one) of the Stars defense so far. [Fox Sports Southwest]
- Kari Lehtonen will get the start in net today, and Mark Stepneski tracked all of Thursday's line combos for you. If I'm reading Glen Gulutzan's mind right, it looks like the slumping Tom Wandell might be the forward scratch. [ESPN Dallas]
- Lehtonen's new mask and pads combination gets thumbs up from the Uni Watch while Andrew Raycroft is met with more reserve. [ESPN]
- I personally might put Mike Ribeiro on top of the list of NHL players I'd pay to watch take a shootout attempt (okay, maybe second, but only if Sergei Zubov was back because he's just a Russian assassin and that would mean he's back in the league), but I understand why he only ranks second on the list of the top seven in the league right now. [Puck Daddy]
- Fun with the Stars sale, because you haven't had enough of it already. As the sales process drags on, the team is racking up even more debt. This blog does a nice job of laying out how the debt is broken down and also states that Monarch, the largest lender, is actually going to make money on this deal because they bought the debt for a ridiculously cheap amount. I don't understand business. [Forbes]
- Another thing we've heard far too much about - attendance issues. My favorite semi-satirical Stars-focused column takes on the issue this week, both skewering some of the obvious targets and raising some legitimate points about the fickle nature of the DFW sports fans. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: Jonas Hiller isn't sure what was going on with his health last year, but he's glad he seems to be past all of the vertigo at this point. [DailyBreeze.com]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: With forward Jason Blake sidelined for several months with a wrist laceration, youngster Brandon McMillan has been promoted to the second line alongside Finnish wundertwins Selanne and Saku Koivu. [Orange County Register]
- Around the Pacific Division: The Kings continued their hot start but saved us from the dreaded three-point game by shutting out the Coyotes 2-0 in Phoenix. Young goalie Jonathan Quick got his 100th career victory in the win. [NHL.com]
- Who says Houston doesn't know hockey? I kid, Houstonians, I kid, but I'm not sure your local newspaper really represented you that well with this article, which discusses which NHL teams might be able to use the services of one Sean Avery. [Houston Chronicle]