Last summer, the Stars' roster underwent drastic changes. Besides the obvious acquisition of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley, there was massive turnover on the team as a whole.
The defense saw the addition of Sergei Gonchar, as well as a number of young kids with only a lockout-shortened season's worth of experience anchoring the blueline. The offense was still questionable, with one top line and three 3rd lines and a mix of forwards looking to prove themselves.
The backup goaltending was questionable at best.
And despite the paper improvement that could be seen during that offseason, it was apparent that there would be a "trial and error" phase to their game for quite a while.
The first quarter of the season was filled with missed passes, offsides calls, and turnovers that didn't have anyone ready to race back and cover the play.
It stunk, to be sure. But it was also necessary. Given the fluidity of hockey, communication is absolutely required by all 6 players on the ice in order to move the puck forward successfully. But when you don't know your linemates, you don't know your defensemen, and you have no idea what your backup goalie is going to do on the play, it creates a bit of a hectic situation.
As a result, the Stars struggled in the early months. All the way up through January, when the Stars lost 9 out of 10 games to start off the new year. Thankfully, though, we know what happened after that.
Things started clicking. The team started to galvanize. And in the face of a life threatening incident with one of their teammates, they bonded together in a way that didn't seem possible before.
But they were still *thiiiiis* close to missing the playoffs, and that's something that could easily happen again this year.
There may not be quite as much roster turnover this offseason, but there are some pretty big impacts made by the acquisition of Spezza and Hemsky. For starters, no one can name the top two lines right now, other than where Benn, Seguin, and Spezza will be. The rest of it remains open. The third line is solid, but what about the fourth? Who's centering? Who's playing wing? Who gets the healthy scratch on off nights?
Some of those questions will be answered as training camp and preseason progresses. More likely, however, it will take through half the season to really figure things out. And that might make the playoff race just as tough as the season before.
Mike Modano thinks along these lines, as he told ESPN his thoughts about the Dallas Stars for the upcoming season.
"I think it's been very positive, a kind of piece-by-piece process, but that pretty much goes with a lot of teams rebuilding. Bits and pieces become available, there are big trades to acquire the personnel you want and Jim did that with the Seguin deal," Modano told ESPN.com in a phone conversation. "Energetic youth comes in and kind of has a lot of work ethic, and obviously this summer [Nill] gets that No. 2 center, so taking care of Spezza was a big deal.
"They have the pieces and the personnel, it's just a matter of whether it will come together."
This doesn't even take into account unforseen injuries, trades, or anything else that might throw a wrench into the plans.
But, as they say, that's why you play the games. Despite what we see on paper, you never know what's really going to happen until it's laid out on the ice. Jim Nill has done an unbelievable job in getting the Dallas Stars a chance to win. Now it's just up to Lindy Ruff and the players to bring it to fruition.
On to the Links:
- Tim Cowlishaw did a rolling chat and answered questions about Valeri Nichu-- wait... Why did you stop reading this? Why are you skipping this bullet point? Oh well. Here's the link anyways. [DMN]
- Mike Heika continues his Q&A session, discussing Sergei Gonchar. He's a big question mark in regards to this season, and Heika does his best to address it. [DMN]
- Desperately waiting for October to get here? Why not take a trip down memory lane, reliving the 6-point night from Jamie Benn last season? [DMN]
- Some unknown Dallas Stars Blog is making the rounds in national media, talking about the Derek Zoolander problem. Wait, does this mean Coach Ruff is actually Katinka Inkababovanana? Props to Wes for getting everyone's attention here. [DMN]
- Texas Stars player Derek Hulak did something special with the Calder Trophy. Keep some tissues handy. [Star Phoenix]
- If you haven't been following #LoneStarsState, the big Dallas Star is making its way back to Dallas. It's your last chance to win free game tickets and other goodies. [Stars]
- The summer of disappointment continues, this time discussing the most depressing moments for the Florida Panthers [Puck Daddy] and the LA Kings [Puck Daddy]
- Sidney Crosby is ready for a new regime in Pittsburgh. It will be interesting seeing how they fare once April rolls around. [Globe And Mail]
- The Tulsa Oilers of the CHL have created a Selfie jersey. Well.... okay then. [Puck Daddy]
- The South Koreans are trying to get qualified for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Seoul. Theirs is a fascinating story to follow. [NY Times]
- Michael Russo talks about the goaltending situation in Minnesota. It's a real Wild card for this season. (Eh?! Get it?!) [Star Tribune]
- Want to see more about NHL 15? Sure you do. Want to see who they used as the screen cap for this article. Absolutely you do. [Hockey News]
- Ken Holland agreed to a 4 year deal with the Red Wings. Maybe their time in the sun isn't quite over yet? [Hockey News]