NHL.com's Rob Vollman crunched the numbers and came away with the top-4 Stanley Cup contenders at the All-Star break. Joining the Capitals, Blackhawks, and Kings, the Stars earned a front-runner spot and were given a 9.7% chance of winning it all.
The Dallas Stars are the wild card. They have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six of the past seven seasons, but they have become one of the League's most dangerous teams offensively and could win their first Stanley Cup since 1999 with improved defensive play, especially in net and when shorthanded.
Vollman compared the four teams in various categories, from special teams and puck possession to quality starts. And while the Stars' possession numbers hold up well, familiar concerns—AKA defense and goaltending—could spell trouble.
From this perspective, Dallas' scoring has had to perform in overdrive in 26 of its 48 games. There have even been nine games this season in which the Stars' goaltenders failed to stop 85 percent of the shots, which is termed a blown start and reduces a team's chances of winning to less than 10 percent.
If it's any consolation, Vollman does note that the Stars' lack of reliance on lights on netminding could potentially be a blessing in disguise.
If there's a bright side for Dallas, it's that the Stars are resilient to injuries in net, since they aren't as reliant on lights-out goaltending, and since Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen each has considerable experience as a starting goalie.
There are plenty of charts and stats to look at at the link. [NHL]
ICYMI, Derek, Erin, and Robert chatted with Stars video coach Kelly Forbes. You should go check it out.
General manager Jim Nill has a 10-year plan for Stars, and so far, the team is a little ahead of schedule. Nill talked about what the season holds for Dallas, and threw in a bit about the trade deadline.
"You've got to be careful. You start throwing away draft picks and trading young kids, and you're going to wake up in three years and be in trouble," he added. "This is a long-term plan."
There's more on the team at the link. [TSN]
Sports Illustrated's Alex Prewitt went behind-the-scenes with the Caps during a recent back-to-back. The article is an interesting look at the grueling pace demanded by the NHL's 82-game schedule. [Sports Illustrated]
He may not be the flashiest guy, but Capitals forward Niklas Backstrom has quietly turned into an NHL superstar. [TSN]
Okay, I hope you're ready for All-Star overload, because here are all of AS updates you could ever need. First order of business: Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews are out for the All-Star Game—and suspended for one regular-season game as a result—while Evgeny Kuznetsov and James Neal are in. [NHL]
John Scott shares his side of the story of being named an All-Star—and more than that, he talks about how he became an enforcer and what that means to him.
All-Star Weekend kicked off yesterday with the NHL Fan Fair. [NHL]
What sort of swag do you get for being an All-Star? A golden guitar, for starters. [The Tennessean]
This looks like a photo op waiting to happen.
If you couldn't make it to the All-Star Game this time around, get a jumpstart on your plan for next year's extravaganza. Rumor has it that the event will be held in Los Angeles. [TSN]
Playing in the All-Star Game doesn't make you an all-star player. [Sportsnet]
Don't watch just one All-Star Game. The AHL is streaming its version of the event for free. [The Hockey News]
Tyler Seguin's priorities are on point.
Just got to Nashville for the 2016 NHL All Star game! Of course one of our first stops is to get some authentic BBQ pic.twitter.com/3wwW7zirMo— Tyler Seguin (@tseguinofficial) January 28, 2016
Catch up on everything you need to know before Sunday's 3-on-3 showcase gets underway. [ESPN]
And finally, here's the hard-hitting All-Star Weekend coverage you've been waiting for.
Tyler Seguin also joined the Great Deviled Egg Debate.