There is little fanfare today. We have plenty of savory links for you from the weekend, but I did want to go over one thing before we get there. As we so often do, let's turn to Mr. Heika:
Dallas hit the midway point of the season Saturday with a 4-3 loss to Colorado that featured a blown 2-0 lead, an 0-for-6 performance on the power play, and a couple of goals that Kari Lehtonen would like to have back.
That’s pretty much the checklist for why a Stars team with high preseason hopes is now 18-16-7 (43 points) and on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
"There are a couple of areas that have to come up for us," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Our goaltending is going to have to come up bigger for us, and our special teams are going to have to move in the right direction."
To be fair to the Stars, they have fixed a lot of their problems and are 8-3-2 in their last 13 games. That said, this was one they needed. Colorado moves ahead of the Stars in the standings at 18-16-8 (43 points). What’s more, Dallas falls to 2-8-5 in games against Central Division rivals, while Colorado moves to 5-7-3 in divisional games.
Under the NHL format, how you fair against your division is probably the biggest factor in the playoffs. [DMN]
The goaltending is a huge enigma. Or perhaps it's crystal clear what the issue is: Kari has been Not Kari this year. But exactly what you do about that for the next half of games, well, paging Mike Valley, because I have no idea. I want to say that history shows that Kari shouldn't be this bad over the course of a season, but aside from a ten-game stretch from mid-December to early January, the big Finn really hasn't been there when the Stars have needed him. Perhaps that can change at any point. I kind of think it can, unless there's some weird injury bugging Lehtonen, because he has the size, he has the experience, and he has the track record of being an above-average goalie. The Stars need one of those this year.
Special teams...well. One of Razor's axioms over the year that I've always kept in mind is that competitive teams really need either their penalty kill or their power play to be among the top ten. The Stars have the 23rd-ranked power play and 20th-ranked penalty kill in the NHL. That, combined with sub-par goaltending, is just not going to get you anywhere in this league. You can preach team defense and structure after losses, and you can scratch or bench players for ill-advised passes, but you have to have at least one of the Big Things working well if you are a borderline playoff team looking to make the dance; the Stars have not found any of those yet.
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Monday Links are extra-special today because today is the day many people go back to their exciting jobs after a long, boring weekend. Thank goodness for fun jobs!
Mile High Hockey thought Trevor Daley had a "tremendous game for the Stars" on Saturday. [MHH]
The Stars don't have any notable fighters on their team. I don't see a problem with that. [THN]
A deeper look at the Minnesota debacle. They are allowing a lot of goals this year, too. [Hockey Writers]
Is mono the new mumps? I guess that would still be pretty fun. Tyler Toffoli has mono, is the story here. [NHL]
Jimmy Howard will be out for a bit after suffering a groin injury on this play. I can tell you, groin injuries hurt like...well, like an injured groin. [SportsNet Video]
Remember how Teemu scored 76 goals in his rookie season? No? Well, he did (it's a rookie record). Here are the other top moments from the career of the Finnish Flash, who was honored by the Ducks last night. [THN]
More proof that the Stars nailed Modano's retirement ceremony: other teams are doing the same thing. Ducks players wore all the different Teemu jerseys from his career during warm-up last night. [NHL Video]
Will the Kings' Kyle Clifford be suspended for this massive hit (or charge, if you prefer) on the Jets' Anthony Peluso? [YouTube]
The Wild lost. Again. To Chicago, yeah, but Mike Yeo is probably not order new wallpaper for his office at this point. [NHL]
Martin St. Louis doesn't always score the easy goals, as this GIF shows. This is an impressive screwup, actually. [The Score]
And from the same Sharks/Rangers game, hey, it's a San Jose goalie making an amazing glove save that was reviewed to see whether the puck in his glove crossed the goal line. [Vine]
Sidney Crosby may not have enjoyed this experience, but the URL was easily worth it. [SportsNet Video]
Plus, Crosby scored the game-winner in overtime Saturday, so that makes things better. [Globe and Mail]
This was really cool: Pavel Bure opens up about life after hockey, primarily as it relates to being a new father. Cool stuff here from the Russian Rocket. [Canucks]
Paul Stewart opines on the life of an official as it relates to bar fights. No, he's not talking about the Stars' power play Saturday afternoon. [Hockey Buzz]
The Dallas Morning News rounds up some Twitter reactions to the Elite Green All-Star jerseys. [DMN]
This mock draft has the Stars picking 12th (gross) and choosing Kyle Connor. No more Two First Names folks, please. [Hockey Writers]
Puck Daddy's thoughts on All-Star rosters: "Sorta crazy to think about an NHL All-Star Game that won’t feature a forward from the San Jose Sharks, either Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg, either Daniel or Henrik Sedin or P.K. Subban." [Puck Daddy]
Here is a nice look back at many other All-Star jerseys over the years. Those orange and black outfits definitely define the type for me. [SportsNet]
Finally, Joe Niuewendyk visits his old hometown rink and fixes up the locker room for the girls' 8- and 9-year-old teams. Aww: