The Defending Big D staff take on the joyous task of predicting this crazy season, like we do every year. We decided to break these up into three parts leading up to the start of the season: Eastern Conference, Dallas Stars, and Western Conference. You can read yesterday's Eastern Conference predictions here. Today we continue with where we think the Dallas Stars will finish the season and whether they make the playoffs or not.
Josh: 1st in the Central
John Klingberg is nominated for the Norris. Tyler Seguin competes for the Richard. Jamie Benn and Seguin compete for the Art Ross. The goaltending holds up with a full season of Patrik Nemeth and Johnny Oduya helping. Patrick Sharp rebounds.What's scary is I haven't really said anything controversial. They might not win by ten points, but they'll take the division.
Brad: 5th in the Central (DNQ)
The goaltending and defense remain very large question marks after a concerning concluding week to the preseason with plenty of NHL faces on the ice. The familiar cadence of start slow and catch-up feels likely while major new pieces attempt to find their place.
Erin: 3rd in the Central
Goaltending is still voodoo, but the Stars have finally got a backup who can pull 50-60 percent of the points out of those starts. That alone would have gotten them in last year. Combine that with an offense that should be at least as potent, if not more, and there's a recipe for regular-season success in somewhere. The division is a nightmare, and a lot will depend on how the teams around them deal with their own demons, but this much young, raw talent on a roster can't be contained forever, can they?
Taylor: 3rd in the Central
Average goaltending and elite offense will get the Stars into the playoffs this year. They'll score enough to beat someone in the first round, likely St. Louis who they've had the number for in the last several years. Not sure the "not allowing goals" thing will be good enough to get them past the second round, though, but it'll be a great step forward for a team that looks an awful lot like a contender.
Robert: 2nd in the Central
The goaltending is just "fine," as opposed to "just fine," and mysterious forward slumps from the top six keep them from annihilating their division. That said, the defense is top-ten in the league, Seguin hits 90 points, and no one wants to play them in the first round.
Derek: 3rd in the Central
The Stars complete their mission of fixing the defense, and consistently outplay and out-chance their opponents, but still face some issues with goaltending and momentum-killing gaffes. Their games will still be a little too white-knuckle for the feint of heart, but they'll ultimately find ways to win games that they usually would have lost last season.
Marcus: 3rd in the Central
Stars overcome a slow start to sear through the division in the second half. Goaltending stays afloat but rarely steals a game. Defense is markedly improved and Mr. Klingberg gets a Norris vote. More important than standings or individual trophies: The Stars are hitting their stride in the middle of March, getting hot at just the right time.
Wes: 4th in the Central (2nd Wild Card spot)
Let's face facts, neither goalie is likely to be great, but they'll combine to be good enough behind a tremendous forward group and much-improved defense. Is anyone dumb enough to take the under on Seguin's tour of one-uppmanship? Luck lands the Stars a Pacific Division opponent in the first round, which is as good as a bye after a season in the brutal Central.
David: 2nd in the Central
For one, not going winless against Colorado will be a huge step forward. But I think a lot of these Central teams are due to regress in subtle ways (Nashville's offense, Chicago's defense, et cetera) that will have vital impacts given how competitive the division is. The offense is too good to endure stretches of supernatural mediocrity like the last two January's. St. Louis is built too well for the regular season to be unseated.
Melissa: 3rd in the Central
Between the two of them, Lehtonen and Niemi manage to provide stable—but not stellar—goaltending. The Swedish contingent holds its own on the blue line, and Sharp looks right at home as the offense does its thing.
Huw: 5th in the Central (DNQ)
I'm being Mr Pessimistic here. The Stars will miss the playoffs once again but it will be close on the final wildcard spot. I think Niemi and Lehtonen do an okay job in tandem but its not good enough. I do think the defense will improve, especially with younger players getting more NHL experience. Maybe red hot offense will help them over the goaltending issues but I'm not convinced yet.
Kathleen: 3rd in the Central
The Stars are stronger on defense than we realize yet. They'll get enough from everyone to win a playoff series, but the Homicide Division is what it is, and they may have to wait another year to challenge the class of the Central.
Where do you think the Stars finish the season? Are you with Huw and Brad and think they won't qualify this year? Or, are you all in, Stars will be top of the world like our managing editor Josh?