As of the All-Star break, the Stars had 49 points in 46 games. This meant that the Stars would need another 46 points in their final 36 games just to hit the 95-point marker that seems to be the lowest reasonable threshold for a playoff ticket. In case you're keeping score at home, that equates to about a 105-point pace over 82 games. It's more than they've done this season, but it is at least not an imaginary number.
Lo and behold, the Stars, despite dropping a bit of a clunker to Carey Price, pulled four points from their first three games after the Neon Jersey Disaster. While the pace number is kind of pointless for only three games, just know that going 2-1-0 is good for 109 points over 82 games. In other words, the Stars did what they had to do on their jaunt through the Great White North. Easy, right?
This road trip showed the league just what the Stars can do when they play "within the system" as Coach Lindy Ruff likes to say. Dallas out shot their opponents by a total of 115-94 and scored on seven of their 24 power play opportunities, a percentage of 29.2.This is has been one of the biggest problems for the Stars in the first 46 contests. Dallas was giving up the seventh most shots, and had the fourth worst power play in the league, at 15%.
Dallas’ special teams accounted for nine of their 13 goals over the trip, and defenseman John Klingberg scored a team high six points, three goals and three assists. The Stars are now entering February brimming with confidence.
While the Stars only won two of the three games they played this week, they have showed everyone that in order to beat them, you must have a super-human effort from your goaltender, and you can’t take any penalties. The atmosphere doesn’t seem to affect them, Montreal and Winnipeg have some of the loudest, most boisterous fans in the world, and Ottawa turned up the heat in welcoming back their former captain turned Star, Jason Spezza. Even in these difficult conditions, Dallas rattled off some of their best play of the year. [isportsweb]
Can the Stars keep up the whole four points for every three games pace? Well, it seems not to be impossible, as Wes "not the David Schlemko of Podcasts" Lawrence told us yesterday. Besides, six of their 13 February games are against the East, so if the Stars have to lose a game every now and then just to keep anyone from getting suspicious about how Beardless Jordie Benn and this guy are never in the same room, then they might as well choose to check out against teams that aren't in the middle of the Central Division dogfight.
That's what the Eastern Conference is for, anyway. It's kind of like how a team will send its younger players down to the AHL for a game here and there just to keep them in something close to game shape. Fight tooth and nail against Colorado for all sixteen times we play them this month, but if you have to punt on one game, maybe throw the Cats a bone on Friday the 13th, eh? Jussi Jokinen would be grateful, and we all still love that guy.
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Tuesday night is always a weird night for some reason. Has anyone else experienced this? It's like the normal flow of time congeals in the top of the time-space ketchup bottle. I'm glad there's a game to take away from the weighty nature of such an odd evening. Tuesdays are weird.
As self-appointed Eagle Scout and Potentate of Sports Internet, I hereby decree that any link involving John Klingberg must be clicked without reserve. He won a rookie award for his ineffable January. CLICK. [NHL]
"If it wasn't for [Seguin] scoring, we wouldn't even be talking about being in the playoff hunt right now." That was Jim Nill in this piece characterizing Seguin as the saviour of the Stars' season. A bit early for such talk, methinks (true though it may be). [Toronto Star]
Cole is close, Nichushkin and Nemeth skated, and Klingberg is happy to be happy, says Mark Stepneski. [Stars Inside Edge]
Here are some amazing power rankings in which Dallas is ahead of Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Los Angeles, Colorado and Washington. Zoiks, Scoob. (What, you mean to tell me kids these days don't watch old Hanna-Barbera cartoons any more? Pish-tosh.) [THN]
Calgary beat Winnipeg in regulation (I know, Brad must be absolutely shocked) last night. If you're positive that Calgary will fade, then this is a good thing. [NHL]
We'll be seeing at lot of the Avs this month, so let's all get acquainted with every jersey the franchise has ever worn. If you buy one, I'd recommend the 1999 Roy visitor sweater. Good memories. [Hockey by Design]
What do Colorado fans think their team needs to do at the deadline? Not all that much, actually. It's tough being a bubble team. [Mile High Hockey]
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is going to have surgery in a week or so for an abdominal injury. Here's hoping that Shattenkirk recovers in full. Jamie Benn will, I'm sure, send him a card. [CBS Sports]
Good Nail Yakupov piece here about how screaming and benching players for a mistake isn't always the best approach. That doesn't mean the player is being coddled; It might actually mean that the team's leadership group has a long-range plan. Stick tap to Puck Daddy. [Edmonton Journal]
Rick Nash scored a slick shorty last night on Aaron Ekblad and Roberto Luongo. The Panthers' defeat last night might spell the onset of their doom. [NHL Video]
Tim Peel may have been suspended (for one game) for meeting with Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy. The best thing I can say about the NHL's handling of its officials is that at least they aren't the NBA. I'm telling you, if we someday replace refs with robots, it will be league hush-hush reactions like this that drive it. (Whether or not robots might in some ways be an improvement is up for debate.) [Sporting News]
Sean McIndoe doesn't hold out much hope for bubble teams like Dallas, but that doesn't mean we have to listen to him and his sorcery-math numbers. [Grantland]
Somehow I never thought of Gary Bettman as that guy at work who wears Skechers with black slacks. Until now, that is. Good grief, you could at least grab some cheap loafers from Rite Aid on the way to the center of the executive branch of American government, commissioner. [Puck Daddy]
Looking for some Super Bowl catharsis, Seattle fans? This piece explaining Pete Carroll's logic helped one of my friends deal with The Pass, and it can help you, too. Don't muck up the comments with nasty, wicked football talk, though, or I will come after you, ha ha. That is a threat. [Five Thirty-Eight]
Finally, here is a wonderful story from Scott Burnside about a struggling family of chocolatiers to whom hockey is much more than just a distraction. [ESPN]