The Dallas Stars aren’t the first team to fall from Stanley Cup contention to lottery contention. Heck, they may not even be the only one this season (Tampa Bay, looking at you). But every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, or something, so Mike Heika decided to tell the Stars’ uniquely sorrowful story through five songs for five different reasons for the disaster.
Injuries were a factor, as he points out with “One Things Leads to Another”:
Antoine Roussel, Radek Faksa and [Ales] Hemsky formed a balanced checking line last season, but Hemsky's absence started coach Lindy Ruff on a line shuffling mission that has yet to end. With [Mattias] Janmark, Hemsky and [Cody] Eakin out of the lineup early, the lines were jumbled. [Jason] Spezza couldn't play center as well without Janmark. [Jamie] Benn and [Tyler] Seguin needed to be split up. Faksa and Roussel were moved from line to line in hopes of patching problems.
In short, the Stars were no longer a team that could transition, they were a team in transition.
Coaching is part of the equation, and Heika talks about that via “Losing My Religion”:
From getting outshot 17-1 in the first period of Game 1 at home, to winning just four of their first 13 games, Dallas was in a constant state of flux. The Stars started with high expectations and struggled with the pressure right out of the gate. Instead of swagger, there was doubt. Instead of an easy stride, there was a tight grip on the stick.
This is the area where coaching will likely get most roasted over the summer. Yes, there were some huge hurdles to overcome, but the coaching staff didn't push the right buttons. It didn't give confidence to the young defense. It didn't create a system that protected the leaky goaltenders. A team that had a strong aggressive identity tilted toward offense last season seemed to vacillate between risky and scared. The end result was it had no poise when it needed it.
There’s much more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
In other news, the Stars have made a 10-second video of the hats collected after Antoine Roussel’s three-goal night, and it’s pretty cool.
Last night, in the rest of the Central:
- The Winnipeg Jets got the loser point in 5-4 OT loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. [Pension Plan Puppets]
- Elsewhere in overtime, the Nashville Predators came back from a three-goal deficit thanks to a Filip Forsberg hat trick, but fell in extra minutes to the Calgary Flames, 6-5. [On the Forecheck]
- The Colorado Avalanche lost at home to the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1. [Mile High Hockey]
- And the Chicago Blackhawks won the four-point game with a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild, featuring a five-point night from Jonathan Toews. [Second City Hockey]
Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine may not consider themselves actual rivals, but the NHL is banking on a rivalry nonetheless.
Dan Rosen gives his take on the trade deadline and the expansion draft in his weekly mailbag. [NHL]
The Vegas Golden Knights held a 24-hour open house for potential fans (and prospective season-ticket holders). [KLAS]
Meanwhile, it appears the new franchise’s final payment will not clear in time to let the Knights be a factor in the 2017 March trade deadline. [Puck Daddy]
The Leafs will have $15 million in cap space at the trade deadline, and they could use it to make a big move, or two.
The Maple Leafs suddenly have as much as $15 million to work with at the trade deadline. What's the plan? https://t.co/OeGb3CNxUG— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) February 21, 2017
The Texas Stars share an update from the road.
From Deflate-gate and related hacks to their “more draft picks are better than high draft picks” approach, Sean McIndoe lists five things NHL teams can learn from the New England Patriots. [The Hockey News]
Phil Pritchard posted a new photo from the Stanley Cup’s travels.
Finally: The Carolina Hurricanes’ Viktor Stalberg took a slashing penalty during last night’s 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and argued with the ref in theatrical fashion from the box. Here’s what happened. Enjoy.