You can be pretty sure you've arrived when The Gray Lady deigns to acknowledge your presence. Hours after the ball dropped in Times Square, the Dallas Stars were getting ready for three games in four days in and around the Big Apple, and The New York Times means to find out What All That Fuss Down South Is About.
Tom Spousta's article begins at the beginning, with an eye toward catching up those who have been caught unaware by the team's growing dominance:
With an explosive offense and aspirations for the N.H.L. playoffs, the Dallas Stars convened for training camp understanding that the dirty work of defense needed to be addressed.
A tone was set at the first practice, when Coach Lindy Ruff did not allow his team to scrimmage, instead demanding a focus on drills and techniques to lower the Stars' goals-allowed average from 3.13 per game the previous season.
The talent-laden Stars won eight of their first 10 games but did not stop there. They bolted to a 28-8-3 record and an N.H.L.-leading 59 points as they begin 2016 with three games in four days against the Devils, the Islanders and the Rangers, beginning Saturday in Newark.
Spousta also talked to Patrick Sharp about the similarities he sees between the Stars and his former team:
Sharp, who is third on the Stars with 14 goals and has 17 assists, stopped short of comparisons with the Blackhawks teams that won three Cups in the last six seasons. But the atmosphere in the Stars' locker room "feels very similar to the early days in Chicago," he said.
"We have a lot of younger players, guys that spent time in the N.H.L. together, developing, guys that spent some time in the minors and then graduated to the N.H.L. level," Sharp said. "You can tell that there's a real chemistry on and off the ice in this locker room. The championship teams I've been on, every single one of those things we had in common on and off the ice."
You can read the whole thing in the Times online. [NYT]
The Stars take on the New Jersey Devils tonight at 6 p.m. Central time. Start getting excited with Mark Stepneski's preview. [Stars Inside Edge]
Looking ahead, on Sunday the Stars will meet the New York Islanders – but not Johnny Boychuk, who's on IR due an upper-body injury he suffered during the team's 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on New Year's Eve. [New York Newsday]
Good news from yesterday's optional practice in Frisco: Valeri Nichushkin participated and is already "feeling better" after the lower-body injury that took him out of the New Year's Eve game. [Stars Inside Edge]
Coach Lindy Ruff also talked about team defense and doing little things right in a video update.
Mayhem took vacation time on New Year's Day, but it did give the 2016 Winter Classic plenty of room to do its thing. The NHL has shared highlights from the Montreal Canadiens' 5-1 victory over the Boston Bruins, as well as links to the full game and a condensed version. [NHL]
On to the important stuff: Greg Wyshynski calls out the best and worst of this year's Winter Classic merchandise. [Puck Daddy]
Meanwhile, commissioner Gary Bettman is being careful to say that Toronto doesn't have the 2017 edition wrapped up, yet. [Sportsnet]
In the usual Winter Classic-inspired wave of Original Six nostalgia, USA Today asked six former NHL coaches, players and GMs how the league's first teams would draft with today's talent. Here's a direct link to the rather tetchy Imgur graphic that illustrates the rosters and lines they chose, if you can bear to look at even a rotisserie-league chart that has Jamie Benn and John Klingberg wearing Bruins uniforms. [USA Today]
Of course, one of the most interesting parts of such an exercise is the list of superstars who get left on the table when nearly 84 percent of the current league disappears in a puff of fantasy. Kevin Allen picked the top 15 players – from Keith Yandle to Henrik Sedin to Ben Bishop – who didn't make the cut. [USA Today]
In that other New Year's Day game, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in a shootout – but not before Canucks fans gave Kevin Bieksa a standing ovation in his first trip back to Rogers Arena. [Sportsnet]
The #MDK is back in earnest tonight, deathing and griefing it up in these non-Stars Central Division match-ups:
- St. Louis Blues at Toronto Maple Leafs (6 p.m. Central time)
- Minnesota Wild at Tampa Bay Lightning (6 p.m. Central time)
- Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes (6 p.m. Central time)
- Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames (9 p.m. Central time)
- Winnipeg Jets at San Jose Sharks (9 p.m. Central time)
The Wild-Blackhawks Stadium Series game comes up in February, and Icethetics shares a few thoughts on Minnesota's special sweaters in its 2015 wrapup (and includes this bonus photo of prototype North Stars jerseys that the team never used). [Icethetics]
The year is already starting well for Connor McDavid, who practiced with the Edmonton Oilers on New Year's Day for the first time since a broken collarbone put him on IR in early November. [Edmonton Journal]
ICYMI, the Texas Stars had a lot to celebrate in their first New Year's Eve game with a 6-1 victory over the San Diego Gulls.
Finally: The Stars Jumbotron was on point with the New Year's resolutions Thursday night, and BarDown has once again taken notice of the best in-arena crew in the land. See for yourself.