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Dallas (All) Stars: Up and Down

Take a breath. The easy stroll we thought we were getting in December has turned into a bit more of a roller coaster lately. That's not awful, if you're a neutral or if you have late-season tickets to unload. It's also not the worst thing in the world for the Stars to need to prove themselves. Bring on the second half!

Calm down, Lindy, I don't rate coaches.
Calm down, Lindy, I don't rate coaches.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Did this team need a break or what? With the exception of Captain Jamie Benn and All-Star Tyler Seguin, the Stars should be as happy as any team in the league for a few days off. I think the fans could use a little break as well.

On the one hand, this is a team that has slipped from the top of the league to second place in their conference after a disastrous January. On the other, they've gone from playoff watching to near-lock status after just one offseason. They're also only three points back from the Chicago Blackhawks with three full games in hand. Yes, they have to win those games, but the sky has not fallen.

Perspective, amirite?

In honor of that, today we're focusing on season-long trends rather than our weekly view. Despite the recent darkness, there's still more bad than good, though I'm sure I shafted your favorite player just because I don't like you.

Up

Jamie Benn (4 Games: Longest Goal-Less Streak) - The Captain is still without shouting distance of the NHL scoring lead, and still the straw that stirs the proverbial drink. Want a reason? Last season Benn went 11 games between goals on two separate occasions. This season he's never gone more than four, and even that's only happened twice.

Tyler Seguin (312 Shots Pace vs. 280 Last Season) - Seguin set such a high bar for himself last season it's tempting to look at this year as a quarter step back. That, to me, is a compliment. Seguin has successfully transitioned from hot new thing to established threat. One year (maybe not this one) he's going to hit a hot streak and win the Art Ross.

Patrick Sharp (66 Points Pace vs. 43 Points Last Year) - I admit it, I worried Sharp's best years were behind him. I underestimated the uncertainty of role issues he experienced in Chicago. The Stars have plugged Sharp into either of their scoring lines this season and reaped serious benefits.

John Klingberg (4 Points in last 10 Games) - Just one goal during that stretch, furthermore. Listen, Klinger is a talent on par with Benn and Seguin. He's just less experienced, and beyond any previous frame of reference in terms of wear and tear. Everybody dips, he'll recover.

Jason Spezza (28 Goal Pace vs. 17 Last Season) - Spezza has already met last season's goal-scoring total, and with a little luck could top 30 for the fifth time in his career. The fact he's had this level of success without being permanently attached to Seguin and Benn is a huge win for the Stars.

Alex Goligoski (24 PIMs) - Goose has already matched last season's PIM total. That's more of an interesting quirk than anything else. Overall, Goose is the metronome to Klingberg's fusion jazz act.

Mattias Janmark (100% Games Played to-date) - What else can you say? Matty more or less forced his way onto the roster, and then forced his way into the top half of the lineup. And they say millennials lack gumption.

Antoine Roussel (118 PIM Pace vs. 148 PIMs Last Season) - I love that Rooster has shown a higher level of discipline this season. He's also currently pacing just a bit higher in terms of scoring than last season (29 points vs. 25). Things will only get better as his instincts for when to push develop.

Jason Demers (20:48 ATOI) - Demers seems set to receive this year's Jordie Benn award for unsung contributions. Undersung? Or is he officially sung at this point? The point is, did anybody ever expect to be as happy about the Dillon swap?

Johnny Oduya (15 Pts) - Could Oduya catch his career high of 29 points (set way back in 2008-2009)? It's possible. It would also be a nice reward for a veteran FA who stepped into an expanded role in a young team and delivered.

Down

Cody Eakin (48.8% OZS) - A rough season so-far, no bones about it. I'm in the "growing pains" category. Eakin is being asked to do things that require veteran savy and nuance. If the Stars can settle on a role, he'll grow into it.

Valeri Nichushkin (13:55 ATOI) - I'd like to see the ice-time come up, and for Big Val to get a serious, sustained look at life on one of the Stars' top lines. I'd also like him to find some consistency. Those two things are likely related.

Ales Hemsky (4 PPPts) - If Good Hemsky wasn't such a difference maker, Drifting Hemsky wouldn't be an issue. The Stars are more interesting with him around, but that's different than "better."

Patrick Eaves (4 Points) - Last season's 27-point explosion was always going to be an outlier. Eaves has had a bit of trouble with injuries, and with an improved Stars offense.

Travis Moen (15 Games Played) - Out of the lineup more often than he's been in it, Moen has naturally struggled to make an impact. His size should help the Stars, but is he really that sort of player? Seems miscast at the moment.

Jamie Oleksiak (11 Games Played) - The Big Rig cannot get himself into the lineup. It must have been particularly tough to see Esa Lindell get a callup. Where does Jamie O go from here?

Patrick Nemeth (11 Games Played) - Somewhere in the multiverse is a version of Nemeth that played last season. Injuries are a hard reality, but you have to wonder how much his cut set him back, and if the rapidly-improving Stars have time to wait for him to re-settle.

Kari Lehtonen (22 Games Played) - While Kari has been better than last season, he hasn't been better enough. As a result, he's slipped into more of a backup role behind Niemi. Injuries have hurt, but he's 11 games behind his colleague at this point.

In-Between

Vernon Fiddler (11:53 ATOI) - Vern hasn't seen as little ice-time since a 17-game stint with the 2003-2004 Predators. That's a shame, but also the hard reality of being a veteran.

Colton Sceviour (42.1% OZS) - It doesn't look like Sceviour is going to be an NHL goal-scorer, but he's been lauded lately for his energy and hustle in defensive situations and on the PK. So why isn't he up? Well, the PK and defense have struggled, and he's done not quite enough to answer questions about where he'll be playing next season.

Jordi Benn (54.7% OZS) - Elder Benn is also playing a bit less than in previous seasons (15:57 ATOI vs. 18:04 last year). It feels less like shortcomings on his part, and more like a defense growing up around him.

Jyrki Jokipakka (37 Games Played) - Kevin won the derby for the last spot on the blueline, but has stalled out since. There have been glimpses (Edmonton), but there's also the fact he can't crack 15 minutes most nights (14:46 ATOI). Not yet.

Antti Niemi (.912 SV%) - Niemi has given the Stars pretty much career norms across the board. It's more about the way he's gotten there. There have been ugly nights, and stellar ones. I don't think he's been good enough to be Up.