Now that the Stars are taking a week off--except for the two young defensemen whose vacations were canceled when they were assigned to the Cedar Park workforce--it's finally time to take a breath and see what we have in this crew of no-longer-motley but not-yet-gaudy Stars.
Well, we have goals. Lots of them. The Stars just scored two goals while you rolled your eyes at that last boring sentence. You sighed in frustration at that patently untrue sentence, and they scored four more. That's just how they roll this year, like it or not. Well, the Stars are finally closer to the "like it" end of the spectrum after quite an "or not" start to the season, but it's tough going into the All-Star break with Winnipeg rocketing up the standings while the loss to Jack Edwards' favorite team festers for a week. While I'm tempted to write that one off much like the Winnipeg Incident of that day we shan't remember, it's important to note that the posts the Stars hit and the nets they didn't are bad luck. That's not an excuse--they are bad luck, and the Stars needed some good luck to win that game. While chance is always going to be perniciously present in any hockey game, the superior teams find a way to minimize its meddlings and construct a game they want to play. That Bruins game got out of hand, and the Stars' hopes went the way of whimsy.
The Stars have turned things around to some extent, but despite an undeniably great last twenty games, that 0-2-2 stretch earlier this month still makes that u-turn we were hoping for look more like the three point turn they used to require during your driver's license test. The Stars are pointed in the right direction, it seems, but have they taken too long to make the adjustments they needed? Josh Bogorad suggests that while the Stars are still in it, they need to find a way to cut out the erratic play if they hope to win enough in the final three dozen games to play beyond that:
There were the wins early in the season, where for the most part the Stars held their opponents to two-to-three goals and posted just enough to outlast them. There were the games in December where Lehtonen donned a cape and led them to victories. There were the blowout wins around New Year's, where the other team never stood a chance and Dallas pummeled them for 60 minutes. And then there was last week, which a couple of months ago might have served as a losing recipe, but lately has been a winning one for Dallas.
The point is that with 37 games left to play this season, and the Stars at the center of a no-holds-barred race for a playoff spot, the only thing that matters is getting points. Let's face it, this team is not built right now to be leaders in goals-against average. There are going to be games and moments where the other team gets, and capitalizes on, a good number of chances. The ability to take that in stride and still win hockey games is paramount.
While long term success probably features a different approach than their three most recent victories, the Stars need to be able to collect wins as they strive towards that. That's exactly what they did last week.
Thursday's game against Winnipeg proved that there is no defined way for a team can win or lose a hockey game. The rest of the week seemed to support that theory. In the end it appears the only real "winning formula" is the one the team with more goals uses on that specific night.
As the Stars have shown this season, that can come in many different forms. [Stars]
As usual, Bogorad has a bunch more in his column, so I'd recommend that you click on that link and use your eyeballs or text-to-speech software to enjoy his words.
The only thing I would add is that Dallas needs to show that they can employ their beautiful, attractive, I-will-call-you-back-after-this-date offense without also giving up three or four goals. Sure, it's nice to drop a touchdown on another team once in a while, but let's find a way to hold teams like the Jets to two goals without also punting on offense. It's not a zero sum game, folks. It might be for other teams, but the Stars can score without giving up odd-man rushes galore. It's time they showed that ability on a regular basis.
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Props to Brandon Worley who had a birthday yesterday. Everyone send him an annoying musical greeting card or something in the Regular Mail and maybe sign one of them with my name if it's not too much trouble.
Farewell to the Wizard. Ray Whitney has officially retired. We will miss your photobombs and your shepherding of Alex Chiasson, Ray. He was really a remarkable player in a lot of ways. [ESPN]
Mike Heika answered your 8,000 questions the other day. Why can't you just let the guy have a moment of peace every now and then? [DMN]
Would you like to see photos of the "bromance" between Seguin and Benn well hey guess what it's a Boston website using the word "bromance." [NESN]
"The mascots will play in a head-to-head broomball and dodgeball matches on Friday and will participate in a mascot dance-off and other field day-type events like leap frog. But the big showdown will come prior to the All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday evening when the mascots will face-off for two 10-minute periods of their own All-Star Game.Victor E. Green will be playing alongside Western Conference captain Bailey from the Los Angeles Kings." [DMN]
Mark Fistric has been assigned to the AHL. Great guy, but it's probably time to stop lamenting no longer having a player like him on the roster. [NHL]
Zac Rinaldo hit Kris Letang, and he is going to be suspended. Why? Well, partly because Rinaldo decided to say a bunch of things that kind of make him not sound super apologetic. Also, why on earth would you not just give the party line in that situation? Yeesh. [Broad Street Hockey]
***UPDATE: Minnesota apparently was slated to play Dallas, but they requested the Blackhawks instead. What the what? I want to write a thousand words on this right now. Good grief, Minny. [Star Tribune]
[Original Outdoor game news: Per Bob McKenzie, the Wild will be hosting Chicago, and the Avalanche will be hosting Detroit. It's almost like the NHL doesn't trust Devan Dubnyk to bring in the ratings himself or something.] [TSN]
Elliote Friedman's 30 Thoughts are good. He talks about the upcoming announcement of the World Cup of Hockey or whatever they're going to call the death knell for NHL participation in the Winter Olympics. [SportsNet]
Justin Bourne has his thoughts on Friedman's 30 Thoughts, and they are also good. I was tempted to write my "thoughts on thoughts on thoughts," but then I didn't because that would be really stupid. [The Score]
Being a jersey nerd, I loved this article ranking every All-Star Game jersey of all time. There are some fantastic ones in there, and I suddenly realized that I agree: this year's threads do look exactly like paintball jerseys. I should just talk about my paintball career for 3,000 words on one of these posts down the road when everyone else is camping and can't read the site or something. [THN]
Not for the faint of heart: what it's like being a team dentist in the NHL. I think I saw Erin tweet out this link with some comment like, "oh my goodness that was gruesome." I am paraphrasing. [Bleacher Report]
What are the five worst rebrandings the league has seen? [Hockey By Design]
Finally, we have actual video of the injury gremlins continued hunt for any Blue Jackets player they can find. Get well soon, Bobrovsky. Also, the Jets won again because guess what, they are going to play Nashville in the Western Conference Final and, in so doing, melt the Earth's magnetic core or whatever. [SportsNet Video]