Am I ever getting tired of feigning optimism during these 20-minute games the Stars keep losing after hanging in there for 40. It doesn't sound awful to go .500 on a four games in six nights stretch, sure; but when the universe is just begging for you to step up and show some mettle in the final period and you just can't do it, well, that gets old.
Being a Fan: Almost as emotionally tough as playing one NHL shift.
Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts are always a must-read bit of notes and opinions about action in the hockey world. From inside news on almosts or just-abouts by GMs and players that you may never hear about to anonymous quotes regarding the "real" book on a goalie's tendencies, Friedman has a knack for putting together columns that deserve the attention they tend to get.
In his weekend installment (before the Minnesota game, as you can tell from the positive tones), Friedman mentioned the recent movement by Nill to trade Gonchar and promote Klingberg:
10. One of the reasons Jim Nill moved quickly? In his Dallas appearances, Gonchar’s ice time was fifth, fifth and sixth (by one second) among defenders. He was, at best, Lindy Ruff’s fourth option on the power play, and John Klingberg, making his NHL debut Tuesday, got 1:36 with the man advantage. It took Gonchar three games to reach that total. He is one of the NHL’s nicest people, but wouldn’t be happy in that situation. Nill was smart to move before it turned bad for everyone.
11. The Stars are 2-0 since the trade, impressively holding the Kings to just five third-period shots in Thursday night’s win. That is a good first step in eliminating some bad habits. One opposing coach: "They love track meets…willing to trade chances…they do have skill and are always four in the rush. Smart/patient/grinding teams counter-punch them and make them defend."
12. The Stars are in a bit of a tough spot. Owner Tom Gagliardi did his part, spending on the roster. They gave Anaheim all the Ducks could handle last April and were a trendy dark-horse pick for 2015. They’ve got one home win. ("If you’re going to stink," Gord Stellick always says, "Stink on the the road.") My sense is Nill sees they’re getting there, but aren’t as ready to contend as the organization would like, especially on the back end. That’s why, in a desperate search for right-handed defenders, Klingberg gets the first chance, not an external acquisition. Better to save your assets if you believe the solution could be in-house. Klingberg looked really good against the Kings. [SportsNet]
As much as we've analyzed the whole situation with the Stars dreadful play at home (and their goal prevention everywhere), everyone seems to agree on one thing: Jim Nill will be patient. In a world where the available quick fixes generally have names like Ilya Bryzgalov and Tomas Kaberle, it's hard to fault him for biding his time while the Stars find their way.
If Klingberg had been 100% in October, it's likely he would have found his way onto the club from the outset, but with what kind of minutes? If Gonchar hadn't taken that shot to his ankle, he most likely would have wound up in Montreal much sooner. If Nemeth hadn't been cut by RJ Umberger's skate, the defense corps could have looked very different five games into the season. However, as things started to pile up, and we started getting ravenous for change, Jim Nill waited for things to progress, for Klingberg to be ready, and for Gonchar's spot to open up. Now we have finally seen at least one part of the plan taking shape, even if it hasn't gone quite as it was originally scripted.
And, for what it's worth, I have a hard time believing that there isn't something else percolating in the background even now. Hopefully the pieces will continue falling into place before more bad fortune comes the Stars' way.
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Monday Morning Links, reporting for duty, ma'am.
Stars recap is here, but be forewarned: the video will start playing automatically, so if you're not careful, you'll end up seeing parts of that game again. [Stars]
Ed Sarno wonders if it's time to start crowd sourcing a solution to the Stars' third period woes. [The Hockey Writers]
Brenden Morrow is proud of Mike Modano. [TampaBay.com]
Detroit also loves Mike Modano, even though RJ Umberger's Skate o' Doom cut Mo's final season short. [Detroit Free Press]
Even Ottawa wants a piece of Mo, who they remember best for the early days of his career with the Prince Albert Raiders. If someone can point me to a place to buy a Modano Prince Albert jersey, I would rock that thing in every rink ever for the rest of my life. [Ottawa Citizen]
Minnesota barely managed to top Winnipeg, but the return of Parise combined with a nice move by Nino Niederreiter saw them take the OT win. [NHL.com]
Remember Nicklas Grossmannnn? He remembers Mike Modano, who assisted on the G-mannnn's first NHL goal during a certain Conference Finals run. [THN]
The Penguins won a strange one against the Rangers Saturday, after an apparent shootout-winning goal by Dan Boyle was called back after both teams had already begun to leave the ice. Also, Sidney Crosby didn't enjoy a non-call very much on a semi-breakaway, slamming his stick against the glass with no repercussions. [Rangers Report]
Apropos of nothing, here's a look at the pros and cons for Buffalo in deciding whether to trade Tyler Myers, who is tall. [The Hockey Writers]
Brendan Gallagher took what I can only imagine is the lowest-percentage shot taken in a long time. He scored: