If the Stars plan to compete for a championship, they need to realize what they're up against, says Mike Heika. And the Dallas Morning News columnist writes that the team's "frightening" loss to the Anaheim Ducks needs to serve as a wake-up call for the rest of the season.
The Stars no longer are in first place in the Western Conference. The Chicago Blackhawks have won 10 games in a row and have 64 points. The Stars are 1-4-1 in 2016 and looking mortal.
The Stars aren't just losing, they're playing poorly. They haven't handled pressure well, they haven't handled physical play well, they haven't handled the puck well. They just haven't looked anything like the team that ran up a record so haughty they still sit 29-12-4 after 45 games.
And that's scary.
Perhaps, he suggests, the Stars will do better as the hunters rather than the hunted, from a position that allows them to measure their strengths against the teams they will need to beat in the postseason:
Maybe the Stars need to run from behind a little bit. Maybe the Stars need the blinders off and need to see the pace of the best horses in the league. The intensity is picking up around the NHL, and we're barely past the halfway point of the regular season.
So far, the Stars have not been able to meet the quickening pace of the race, so they might as well realize that fact with wide open eyes.
There's much more at the DMN. [SportsDayDFW]
Heika talked with Ales Hemsky about his return to the second line and his hopes for the second half. "The season is starting right now really, this is where we find out who we are. I like this. I want to help and I want us to win." [SportsDayDFW]
He also visited with former Star (and current Duck) Shawn Horcoff – currently eight games away from his 1,000th NHL contest – who still has fond memories of his time in Dallas. [SportsDayDFW]
Elsewhere in California: Radek Faksa notched the tiebreaker with less than a minute left in regulation to propel the Texas Stars to a win over the Bakersfield Condors.
RECAP: Faksa's Late Blast Lifts Stars to 4-2 Road Win - https://t.co/SlOYFmkzy4 pic.twitter.com/IYpHCEGRGO— Texas Stars Hockey (@TexasStars) January 16, 2016
Last night in death:
- Rookie revelation Connor Hellebuyck was in net for the shutout as the Winnipeg Jets won a battle of attrition with the Minnesota Wild, 1-0. [Duluth News Tribune]
- Patrick Kane netted his first hat trick of the season (and took over the NHL scoring lead) as the Chicago Blackhawks cruised to a 4-1 victory (and took over the Central Division lead) against the Toronto Maple Leafs. [Second City Hockey]
Alex Prewitt explores the unique joys and challenges of playing for your hometown team, with the help of Daniel Winnik, Jake Virtanen, Dylan Larkin, Kyle Palmieri, Frank Vatrano and more. [Sports Illustrated]
Also in SI: The staff takes a little inventory and ponders the NHL's best player, worst team and biggest bargains. Find out where Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn came into this discussion. [SI]
Now that John Scott has been traded to the Montreal Canadiens (and promptly sent down to the St. John's Ice Caps), he probably will not be allowed to play as a fan-vote winner in the 2016 All-Star Game. [Puck Daddy]
Famous explainers explained it this way: Scott brought this on himself.
John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused. Trade likely takes care of that— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 15, 2016
John Scott didn't get screwed here. He knew he shouldn't be going, but chose to try and make the league look silly.— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) January 15, 2016
You realize, of course, that this means war.
Don't create a fan vote, tell fans to vote for whoever they want, generate buzz and then punish John Scott for it...— James Mirtle (@mirtle) January 15, 2016
John Scott really got hosed here. He was put in an awkward situation, and handled it with grace and humor. After all that, he gets burned.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 15, 2016
Good to see the NHL flexing their muscles on important, big picture subjects like whether or not John Scott will play in an exhibition game.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 15, 2016
There's more social media reaction here. [theScore]
Meanwhile, Adam Gretz says the real issue with the All-Star Game is a major snub on the goaltending roster. [CBS Sports]
Officer Bob returns: The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and left wing Markus Hannikainen, both of whom have been on IR since shortly after Thanksgiving. [FOX Sports]
Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they weren't the only team willing to sacrifice for Seth Jones: Word is out that the Edmonton Oilers were actively looking to trade one of their first-overall-draft-pick centers for the defenseman and DFW native. [Sportsnet]
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins have lost center Nick Bonino for "at least a month" to an undisclosed hand injury. [ESPN]
Observe the FINNISH HOCKEY PROUDNESS as the Suomi postal service releases an official stamp celebrating the home team's big win in the 2016 World Junior Championships.
Finland releases stamp to commemorate World Junior Championship gold medal https://t.co/iodLIHmiGk pic.twitter.com/RtbSCWoxHH— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) January 15, 2016
Who needs a fresh start in 2016? Arpon Basu names 12 NHL superstars who are looking for a return to form in the season's second half, including Jonathan Bernier, Tyler Johnson and John Tavares. [NHL]
Finally: Is Jaromir Jagr the NHL's answer to Elvis? Like Elvis, he's everywhere, and the Traveling Jagrs are the living proof. Salute the mullet!