Even better, they've now won half their games over Central Division opponents. Yes, their Murder Death Kill record is still only 1-1-0, if you want to be a negative Nancy about it. The thing is, Our Gang faced a true test of teamwork and resolve last night, and they passed with flying colors. It's almost enough to make this whole Best in the West thing feel...legitimate.
Mike Heika was quick to note the ongoing improvements in this year's model, and needless to say, the Captain was right there with the money quote:
...[T]he Stars were a division-worst 8-14-7 last season against Central foes, and it probably cost them the playoffs. While Thursday's win only puts them 1-1-0 this season against the Central, it was a statement that the team recognizes the magnitude of the inter-division play.
"It's pretty crazy how good the Central is, but we want to play against the best teams throughout the year, and we've got a bunch of them in our division," said captain Jamie Benn, who had the game-winning goal. "I think it's good for our team to learn how to win these games. They're obviously four-point games."
Yet even as the special-teams work is ticking up a notch or two or seven or eight, some things remain consistently, delightfully the same – notably the play of JaBenn and the other half of the Art Ross Brothers, Tyler Seguin.
The calm power play goal was drawn up perfectly and showed the progress the Stars are making with the man advantage this season_ currently sizzling along at a 30.2 percent success rate. John Klingberg fed Seguin for a one-timer, and Benn pounced all over the rebound for his 11th goal of the season at the 14:05 mark.
Tyler Seguin had two assists and remains tied with Chicago's Patrick Kane for the NHL scoring lead at 25 points. Benn is tied for the NHL goal-scoring lead at 11.
There's more at Heika's place. Enjoy. You've earned it. [SportsDayDFW]
Wanna see something cool? Here's a link, courtesy of bdougherty1102, to a slo-mo, ice-level view of Jamie Benn's GWG and Patrick Sharp's reaction. Non-embeddable, so just visit the link. I promise you it's worth it. [Instagram]
What you didn't see on television: Radek Faksa took some friendly fire during practice and ended up getting face stitches after a hit from a loose puck. He played anyway, and won 75% of his...wait for it!...face-offs. [SportsDayDFW]
Kari Lehtonen snapped back from those heart-stopping two goals in 18 seconds to keep the Stars in the game with a few spectacular saves and a splendid performance during Seguin's four-minute double minor.
Boy, Razor sure loves it when the Stars win. Savor with him the sweet, sweet intradivisional hatred (and maybe a few extra-salty Winnipeg tears, too), as well as the powerful play of his Men of the Match, John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski.
The Stars' deep prospect pool has been a source of strength and a taste of more joy to come this season. Heika examines the creative ways the team has found to raise the kids right. [SportsDayDFW]
Speaking of prospects, the Texas Stars welcomed back Jack Campbell on Wednesday night by running amok over the San Antonio Rampage, 6-3. Soupy stopped 23 shots and earned a franchise-record 50th career win, while Jason Dickinson scored two goals on his way to first Star of the Game.
Now that Jack is back, the Stars have reassigned netminder Maxime Lagace to the Idaho Steelheads. The 22-year-old rookie compiled a 4-3-0 record during his time in Cedar Park, with a .913 SV% and 2.60 GAA. [Texas Stars]
Texas Stars GM Scott White said Maxime Lagace could have stayed in AHL played 20 games. Now he can get 40 or more in ECHL. #txstars— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) November 12, 2015
Our much-revered former Star Sergei Zubov is now the permanent bench boss of the KHL's SKA St. Petersburg. This is your cue to restart the call to retire his number. Do not flake out on it.
In other #JustMDKthings, Gabriel Landeskog got into it with Brad Marchand during the Colorado Avalanche's 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins last night. He ended up with a match penalty for a high hit on Marchand, and DoPS is reviewing the play. [CBS Sports]
Meanwhile, the Avs are desperate for better defense. Are they willing to trade Matt Duchene to get it? [Today's Slapshot]
There are no hockey players in Sports Illustrated's list of contenders for Sportsman of the Year. Do you think there should be? Check out their picks, which range from Ronda Rousey to American Pharoah to the Kansas City Royals. [SI]
Thirty years after Philadelphia Flyers star Pelle Lindbergh died while driving drunk, his legacy still raises questions about how the NHL deals with players' drug and alcohol problems, and how it honors its sometimes less-than-perfect heroes. [SI]
The AHL has unveiled the logo for its 2016 All-Star Classic, and Icethetics has put it in a gallery alongside every other All-Star Classic logo to date. [Icethetics]
A 10-year-old Atom League goalie worked bare-handed for nearly two minutes on Saturday after an opposing player knocked off his glove and the referees refused to stop play. There is no written rule in Canadian minor hockey to blow a play dead when the netminder loses his glove, but that may be about to change. [Sportsnet]
Finally: How can NBC promote a Thanksgiving Friday Rangers-Bruins game? One answer: Have Jimmy Fallon shoot miniature pumpkin pies at Henrik Lundqvist. Will King Henrik keep his suit clean? Find out.... [Puck Daddy]
P.S. If the sight of putatively grown adults fighting over a hockey stick left a bad taste in your soul, Hank has something for that, too.