Quick notes here before the links:
John Klingberg certainly seems to thrive when he feels like the best player on the ice. The whole "mojo," "alpha male," or "go-to player" thing is tough to substantiate without my trusty brain monitor, but when Klingberg starts to sense that he knows the other side better than they know (or, at least, can contain) him, he starts to play a whole new game. That comes with risks, of course, as Klingberg made at least one gut-wrenching pass from his own end that was picked off for a good chance against, but it's all part of the process for slick young defensemen. The more confidence they get, the more risks they'll take, and they'll adapt along the way. It will occasionally be two steps forward and one step back, as with a lot of the younger player on the team, but the Stars decided they were okay with those growing pains this year, and it's hard not to be happy about it when you see Klingberg sniffing around a hat trick thirty games into his NHL career. But we also know that the Klingberg we saw last night was borne more out of need (the Stars' being in an early hole) than out of ideals. The coast-to-coast rushes are fun to watch, and goodness knows we don't see enough defensive pizzazz from the Stars since our favorite chain smoker retired, but John Klingberg's goal production will have to find ways to show up in less frenetic games if he wants to establish himself as a top player from season to season. Put another way: anyone can eat when he's hungry; it takes a real soldier to pack it in when he's full.
Seguin is the same way, I think. When #91 is really at the top of his game, he isn't worrying about what the other team is doing; he's just imposing his will on them, as Razor often says. That's both good and bad, of course, and many people have cited Seguin's renewed defensive commitment as a partial explanation for his stalled goal production. I think there's some merit to that line of thought, although I also think his early-season shooting percentage was making promises that the stick could never keep. Is it good that the Stars have been doing better lately if Seguin's reduced production/more diligent defense is in some way contributing to their rise in the standings? Well, yes. That's the right answer, at least, from a team standpoint. But I can't help but wish that the Stars could find a way to unleash Benn and Seguin. After all, you need your best players to be your best players, right? Unlike a defenseman, who always knows that points you score come second to the minuses you take on the ice, Benn and Seguin can be and have been among the best players in the entire league. If they can find a way to adjust their natural abilities to the renewed defensive requirements of their team, then I think we'll see a top line that really strikes fear into Chicago, Los Angeles and (can't believe I'm saying this) Nashville.
Of course, some more offensive zone starts probably wouldn't hurt either. But there are only so many of those to go around, after all.
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Watching last night, I couldn't help but think that Ales Hemsky reminded me of my friend's Alaskan Husky when he took the dog to the snow for the first time. Hemsky absolutely relished the open ice and high pace, and his passing was sublime last night, not to mention his much-needed goal to begin the Stars' pursuit. We're finally seeing the Hemsky that could make that three-year deal look like quite a nice signing; we knew it was going to happen, right? Of course we all did, because we are hockey experts around here.
A victorious recap from a rather skip-to-my-lou game. [Stars]
Here is your schadenfreude recap from Silver Seven Sens. High-octane game indeed. [SSS]
Alex Chiasson is still grateful to the Stars for giving him his first chance. [DMN]
Nill mentions that Spezza has been a bit snakebitten this season, but both he and the former Ottawa captain are glad to see him in town for the next few years. Some good quotes from Spezza about his last year in Ottawa as well. [TSN]
Here are some Midseason Grades for the Stars that I'm sure you won't disagree with at all. Colton Sceviour is a C, Garbutt is a B. Those aren't euphemisms. [Hockey Writers]
Josh Bogorad's latest On the Radar piece suggests that the Stars are right where they deserve to be after their first half of the season. [Stars]
The Jets are doing well this year thanks in large part to Michael Hutchinson. Unfortunately for the Stars, the Jets also won last night needing almost no goaltending at all, beating the poor Panthers by a whole lotta goals. Mathieu Perreault scored a Jussi Jokinen, and the Jets put up another four among the other folks on the team. [Puck Daddy]
The Dominator's number was retired in Buffalo last night. Here's a good piece about the method behind his spastic style of goaltending. What a player. [The Score]
Video from Hasek's ceremony last night is all over the web, but what you really want to watch are the best saves across his entire career. Here they are. [THN]
Want to listen to Jack Edwards gleefully narrate a Zdeno Chara sequence in which he earned a major and a double minor? The punch is kind of really powerful. [Puck Daddy]
Disagreement is practically mandatory when All-Star selections are announced. Sean McIndoe looks at perhaps the worst selections of all time. [Grantland]
If you've got some time to kill, I highly recommend this excellent look back on the Dirty Dozen rowing team of middle-aged amateurs that made a push for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. This is really one of those stories I would probably not believe if a guy told it to me on the street. [Fox Sports]
Finally, here is why you never bang your stick against the glass when you're upset about a game misconduct. I have watched this video 824 times: