It's still possible to look at the Dallas Stars' 20-5-2 record and cock a skeptical eyebrow at how much the team is spending on netminding. It probably doesn't make you look as clever as it used to, though.
Mark Stepneski has written a great article on the key figures in the Stars' big 2015-16 turnaround in goaltending. Through conversations with Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi and goalie coach Jeff Reese, Stepneski shows how the Stars' successful goalie tandem is leading the league not just in wins, but in demonstrating what's possible when a team thinks outside the box (or the trapezoid).
"We are making sure we don't sit them out too long, two or three games max and then the other guy goes in. It's worked well," said Stars goaltending coach Jeff Reese. "We still go one game at a time. The good thing is they've both worked extremely hard, and they've both had some time off. They are fresh when they start; their minds are fresh, and their bodies are fresh. Another good thing is they get along so well that it has been so good for the team."
And Lehtonen and Niemi are full of praise for Reese, who has helped both of them stay sharp as well as fresh:
"I think he is very good at listening to goalies," Lehtonen said. "We talk a lot about how something feels and how something looks. It's not always you have to do this in this situation every time. We talk about what feels good, and that's what feels good. He wants to learn new things, and he wants to know how we feel about some situations. We come up with the best way for me to play that situation, and Antti might play it a different way. It's not always the same for each goalie."
Added Niemi, "He has strong opinions, but he is open to talk about them and think about them if we have ideas. I think he has been really good."
Read the whole thing at the Dallas Stars' home page. [Stars Inside Edge]
Last night on the prison bus:
- The Minnesota Wild shut out the Colorado Avalanche 3-0. [FOX Sports]
- The St. Louis Blues fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. [National Post]
- The Nashville Predators dropped one to the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. [The Tennessean]
- And the Winnipeg Jets held on to beat the Washington Capitals in overtime, 2-1. [Sports Illustrated]
If you have a lazy Sunday in the DFW area ahead of you, why not drop by Fort Worth's only outdoor ice-skating rink for Stars Day?
Excellent news on the prospect front: RW Brett Ritchie is off the injured non-roster list and has been assigned to the Texas Stars. [Dallas Stars]
And from the Nov. 23, 2015 print edition of Sports Illustrated, Alex Prewitt's excellent piece on Tyler Seguin, 21st-century fox.
Remember when the NHL Board of Governors wasn't going to talk about expansion at the annual meeting next week? Well, things change. [Sportsnet]
Shea Weber and Beast Mode have been interchangeable terms for what seems like forever, but in last night's loss to the Red Wings he became the first blueliner in Predators history to rack up three goals in one game. [Puck Daddy]
As awful as the video looks, Turris has no broken bones and was getting around under his own power after the game. Here's hoping for a quick recovery.
Shockingly Kyle Turris walked on to the Sens Charter to NYC. Don't know if he's playing tomorrow but he is walking.— Dean Brown (@PxPOttawa) December 6, 2015
"What used to be Ice Cube vs. Vanilla Ice is now more like 2Pac vs. Biggie." That's the summary for Matt Larkin's article on how the Eastern Conference has begun to catch up to its still superior
Bestern Western cousin. [The Hockey News]
Also in THN: Because you were already thinking it, allow Mike Brophy to say it for you.
Need a reason to get excited about yet another Winter Classic? It'll feature the first contest between the NWHL and the CWHL, as the Boston Pride meet the Montreal Canadiennes.
Unfortunately, it looks as if USA Hockey is raining on the parade by keeping Hilary Knight and other Team USA superstars from participating. [Puck Daddy]
Knight says she and Team USA players will not be at the Winter Classic due to commitment w/ nat. Team— Kate Cimini (@k_cimini) December 6, 2015
Don't look now, but with the NHL's centennial year and the 50th anniversary of the original expansion approaching, Jersey Watch 2016 has started early. [Icethetics]
Finally: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially when you're already Victory Green.