The Stars are 4-3 in their last seven games, which is a lot better than the run of games before that. It was almost inevitably going to be better, of course, because their run of what felt like sixty-four straight losses was mostly unsustainable, built as it was on a lot of one-goal losses and impossibly calamitous collapses. The Stars are not enmeshed within a web of losing hockey at the moment, which makes people like Travis Moen and Jason Demers happy. They are new players for the Stars. (And by the way, how surprising it is to see Travis Moen during games, just in general? I don't think I'll get used to that for a while.) In fact, the Stars have a lot of new things going on, including Cody Eakin becoming the de facto top line center. Who saw that coming? Yes, I see that hand. You are a liar, Hand Guy. Put it down.
Josh Bogorad is aware of these changes, which is good for someone whose job it is to talk about them. When it comes to the recent history of the Stars, he has a couple of musings that I found to be worth my time, and perhaps yours, from his latest On the Radar piece. Give the whole thing a read, as there's a ton more there than what's included below:
Going hand in hand, the aforementioned changes played a huge role in the Stars wins. The recently-formed top line of Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, and Tyler Seguin has been terrific. They combined for 8 goals and 15 points in three games last week. Moen has provided a nice spark with his gritty style of play, particularly in the game against Arizona. Demers had a very strong Dallas debut, playing a season-high 25:32 while also adding a highlight-reel check, sound defensive play, and the game-winning goal on a power play.
And as for John Klingberg? Well, if you've even remotely been paying attention lately, you know all about him. But just in case you haven't, or simply want a reminder, here goes. Klingberg has goals in two straight games. He has points in four straight. He had five points in three games last week, and he ranks third among ALL NHL defensemen in points per game this season. That's third out of 246, in case you're wondering. He's also averaged more than 24 minutes per game in six games since his NHL debut.
Yet, even though the Stars have been littered with change lately, they still have been plagued by some familiar problems. The Stars went 2-1 last week, but in their loss, Dallas let another multi-goal lead slip away against Carolina. They then struggled badly in the second half of Saturday's game against Los Angeles, getting outshot 16-2 in the third period, and allowing a four-goal lead to turn into a nail biter down the stretch. There still seems to be a tendency among this team to stagger whenever momentum begins to shift to the opponent. With a stretch like the Stars have been on this season, the only way to overcome that is to go through it enough times successfully until it is no longer an issue. That's what made Saturday such an important win. [Stars]
That is as apt a summary of the Stars' fortunes and prospects (not that kind of prospect) as you will see this Tuesday morning. Cody Eakin, whose "true nature" as a 3rd line center was the impetus for the Jason Spezza acquisition, has somehow vaulted over Spezza onto the top line, and it has sort of worked. Little wonder that Eakin can look good playing next to two of the best players in hockey, of course, but still--that is something no one really expected to see after July 1st. I don't think it is permanent, because it is kind of nuts, but good for Cody Eakin. If the Stars keep winning, we will be happy about it.
Quantifying Moen's contributions is a little bit of a tough project, but the penalty kill needs help, and he's supposed to be serviceable in that role. I've no complaints thus far, and the cap space gifted to Dallas by the resurgent-in-Montreal Sergei Gonchar's departure is a pretty decent parting gift. Jason Demers scored a goal by doing something I have never been able to do on that slapshot, so I'll go ahead and call him a welcome addition, although our own Josh Lile took a good and sober look at what will need to happen down the road for Demers (and the rest of the defense) if the Stars want to be successful.
The last 22 or so minutes of the Kings game is fascinating to me. You can look at the Kings' unbelievable shot totals and see portents of doom and gloom for the Stars' future ability to protect a lead, or you can cite score effects and brush off your shoulders while taking a meme-worthy selfie. The truth is, as usual, somewhere in between. Yes, you can expect a team to push back when they're way, way down (unless they're the Oilers), but you can't write off that third period as something that just happens in those situations. All told, the Stars have work to do, but management believes that the team is in better position to do that work (and to do it better than it has so far this year) after all the recent shuffling. Agree or disagree, let's hope they're right.
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You want your Tuesday Links, don't you? Yes you do! Yes you do! Now, fetch!
Watch this video of the Stars' visiting a children's hospital, because you get to see John Klingberg play with dolls. Have I mentioned he is my favorite? He is my favorite. [Stars]
My favorite thing about this article, which looks at what Jason Spezza's re-signing does to the free agent class next summer, is the word "gum" in the URL. [Sporting News]
John Klingberg is the Stars' best defenseman, and nobody is even bothering to deny it so far. How great does it feel for a prospect to immediately pan out like this? Cherish this feeling, everyone. [Stars]
This boxscore is significant for Stephen Weiss, who hasn't scored a goal in almost a Scott Gomez. [NHL]
The Bruins have gotten some help, however, as former Stars prospect Joe Morrow scored his first NHL goal last night. It's...well, it went in. Good for him. The Bruins lost to the Penguins in OT, though. [NHL Video]
Sidney Crosby hasn't been scoring much lately at all, so Brady Smith has decided to look at what's wrong with him. Turns out the Penguins aren't sustaining their 86% Power Play from early on (hyperbole, but it was insanely good). Also, #87 has been playing on a line with Chris Kunitz and Blake Comeau. [The Hockey Writers]
Shawn Thornton scored what I will go ahead and call his only goal of the year and earned Third Star of the Game against Minnesota last night. [NHL]
As you've no doubt heard, Pat Quinn has passed away. The former NHL icon was, by all accounts, a joy and a privilege to work for and with, as well as one possessed of a keen sense of humor. [SportsNet]
Three-time Olympic gold medal coach Viktor Tikhonov has also died. The former coach of the Red Army squad was 84. [NY Daily News]
And because sad events sometimes come in threes, former North Stars player (1970-75) and coach (1982-83) Murray Oliver has passed away at 77. [Star Tribune]
Jack Eichel added to his rocketing status with an end-to-end OT winner against Maine: