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Dallas Stars Daily Links: ESPN Says Team Defense Is Turning the Stars Into Stanley Cup Contenders

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That 200-foot game is attracting all the right kinds of notice. Plus, Tyler Seguin is top dog among NHL Instagrammers, and it may not be a coincidence that scoring is down when power-play minutes decrease.

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The Dallas Stars just keep winning, so the commentators at ESPN have circled back for another look at what drives the team's ongoing ascent. And after their recent successes over divisional rivals – including Tuesday's shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks on the second night of a back-to-back – Pierre LeBrun approves of their commitment to playing team defense.

"The fact that the Stars limited the reigning Cup champions to just 20 shots was what really caught my attention," LeBrun said. "The defensive transformation of the Stars is why they're contending for a Cup. The offense was just as explosive last season, but now they're covering 200 feet of ice as a team."

But yet again, Joe McDonald plays the stern teacher who is having none of it:

[H]aving Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn among the league leaders in points is astonishingly entertaining. As for coach Lindy Ruff, he has to gain consideration for the Jack Adams Award. However, regular-season success means absolutely nothing when it comes to the playoffs, and I don't think the Stars will have a deep run this spring.

More hot sports opinions, including those of Scott Burnside, are available at The Dallas Morning News, and you don't even have to be an Insider to read them. [SportsDayDFW]

*****

The NHL is taking Christmas off, so there will be nothing on the Central Division's steel-cage fight card until Dec. 26, when the Stars and the St. Louis Blues will uphold the honor of Murderers' Row in Scottrade Center on the first night of a double-header. Keep an eye on DBD for previews, game threads and more.

Meanwhile, @DallasStars has expertly trolled a Blackhawks supporter who tried to call the screaming Victory Green horde in American Airlines Center "bandwagon fans." (I'M NOT CRYING!! YOU'RE CRYING!!!!!!) [SportsDayDFW]

Sports Illustrated continues its year-end lists with the NHL's most surprising storylines, including the scoring struggles of Phil Kessel and the stunning regressions of Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. [SI]

The Washington Capitals have bumped the Stars from the top of Greg Wyshynski's NHL Power Rankings. Agree? Disagree? Disagree to death? What do you think? [Puck Daddy]

Meanwhile, Sportsnet has compiled its top NHL Instagram posts of the year, and it's one greatest hit after another. But at No. 1 – and how can it be otherwise? – is Tyler Seguin, breaking the internet with nothing but a toque and a Zamboni. [Sportsnet]

Online now @Espn #bodyissue ( by ESPN.com/Martin Schoeller ) on stands Friday!!

A photo posted by Tyler Seguin (@tseguin92) on

Sportsnet has also revealed its top NHL stories of 2015, from the shocking death of Steve Montador to Kessel Trade 2.0. [Sportsnet]

As the World Junior Championships approach, John Klingberg and Patrik Nemeth share their memories of playing with the future stars (and another future Star, Mattias Backman) on the 2012 Swedish national team that won the nation's first gold medal in more than 30 years. [Stars Inside Edge]

Jeff Simmons celebrated Festivus by airing his sports-related grievances in true hot-take fashion. TL;DR: People are no damn good. [Sportsnet]

The NHL's "Road to the Winter Classic" series is full of great stuff about the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins on and off the ice. For example, here's your weekly reminder that P.K. Subban is awesome. [NHL]

Subban and his teammates go from patient to patient, spreading cheer and chocolate. Many of the patients and parents ... recognize him not necessarily as the Canadiens' star defenseman, but as the guy who visits quite often.

"Sometimes I just think people forget to count their blessings every day and be thankful for what we're given and what we're blessed with," Subban said. "Sometimes it's something as simple as good health. A lot of people don't have that. I'm just trying to make a conscious effort to try to give back and help as many people get healthy and touch as many families as I can."

One reason NHL scoring is down may be because power-play minutes have declined by nearly half since 2004. Read more about how players have adjusted their games to keep the special teams off the ice. [SI]

Josh Cooper writes about Tomas Hertl coming back from a knee injury and his struggles to live up to his off-the-charts rookie year for the San Jose Sharks. [Puck Daddy]

Finally: It's Christmas Eve, and Stars fans have gotten so many presents already. Here's to all the gifts we can look forward to as 2015 winds down. Happy holidays!