The release of the always-controversial ESPN power rankings had Dallas Stars fans buzzing late Monday afternoon.
Those rankings have the Stars ranked 27th in the league. Now, given all the variables that come with predicting how teams will look before full groups even take the ice, I understand some skepticism.
But I find this rationale from ESPN's Scott Burnside a little odd.
We're still not sold on Kari Lehtonen as a franchise netminder, and the loss of Brad Richards will be hard to get over.
Now taken individually, neither is that outlandish. Brad Richards will be a big loss, though many Stars fans are hopefully the combination of Mike Ribeiro, Jamie Benn, Steve Ott and heck, even Tomas Vincour can provide a little depth scoring to help make up for his absence.
But the franchise netminder question gives me pause because there simply aren't that many to go around in the league. Once you get past the first five teams in his power rankings, several of his top group, including the San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings all have serviceable guys with some decent credentials in net, similar to the Stars' Kari Lehtonen, but none of them are "franchise netminders," at least not yet. Even the backup situation is a little scary in some of those cities (see: Ray Emery signing to be the backup in Chicago, Antero Niittymaki being shelved for San Jose and whatever rotation the Flyers are going to use this year).
And given that "franchise netminder" doesn't seem to be a necessity to have a quality team in these rankings, is the loss of Richards really worth a drop of 10 spots from where the team finished last season? Especially when teams with much, much bigger question marks in net, such as the Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues, are ranked significantly higher.
Honestly, this reads to me like Burnside didn't do a whole lot of research on this team, its challenges or its potential. The defense is a much (much) bigger question than Lehtonen, and his 23-word summary of his rationale is the second-shortest on the list behind his 19 words about the Washington Capitals. I honestly am not all that put off by the ranking in and of itself, but the continuing ignorance about who this team is by some of the national columnists is a touch bothersome.
After the jump, an update on the health of Adam Burish, who missed Monday's practice, a much better example of how to predict likely failure and not insult a fanbase's intelligence and Sean Avery is waived by the New York Rangers.
- Now for your daily update on the health of Adam Burish, which I had hoped we'd gotten past after last season. But no, one of the biggest unsung parts of the Stars success is shelved again, this time fighting a groin injury. According to this story, if he can practice Wednesday, he should be able to play Friday, but we won't know that until Wednesday morning. [ESPN Dallas]
- Also from Mark Stepneski is a piece about what we hope will be everyone's favorite bromance this season, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder. Also of note in this is that Scott Glennie has officially been put on the NHL injured reserve list, which means he does not count against the 23-man roster limit, and 2008 draft pick Matt Tassone has been released. [ESPN Dallas]
- See, this is how you do a preview that has the Stars near the bottom of their conference. Even though I disagree with this guy's point about the third and fourth line scoring taking a big hit from last year (unless he's counting Benn as a third line player, I think the opposite is the case - the top two lines will probably score less but the depth players might produce more), he makes a reasoned argument and backs it up with specific thoughts. [ProHockeyTalk]
- And here's how you take a great, in-depth look at the team while not coming down on one side or the other about the team's eventual finish. [ESPN]
- Barry Melrose curses... er, talks about five players feeling the most pressure this season, the list topped by none other than Brad Richards. I snickered a little bit at the note about him thinking Marian Gaborik is the perfect linemate because he likes playing with a left shot on the right wing. Yes, because he hasn't played with the left-shot Loui Eriksson on his right wing for the past several years or anything. [NHL.com]
- Razor with a touching tribute to a billet mom. [Razor With An Edge]
- Some late-breaking news from Thursday morning: Like we speculated several days ago, New York Rangers forward Sean Avery has been waived by the team. [New York Daily News]
- Center Ice might be an expensive investment, but it is adding several nice little perks this season to try to make it worth your while. Now if only my piece of trash cable company carried any of the inDemand services. [Puck Daddy]
- Another nice piece from Puck Daddy has NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury being a cranky old man about the new headshots rule and drawing a rather insulting comparison trying to call the sport too "girly" without outright saying it. It's one thing to think the rule goes to far, but this is not really the way to make that argument. [Puck Daddy]
- If you want to know all the nitty-gritty that goes into the season-opening games in Europe, Jon Rosen is writing a blog that promises to detail a behind-the-scenes look with focuses on the Kings and Anaheim Ducks. [Fox Sports West]
- And finally, an Eastern Conference preview from one of my favorite hockey sites on the internet. [Down Goes Brown]