105. That is the number that the Stars are shooting for. Not 105 points in the standings (though we’d probably take that), but a total of 105 when you add up the team’s power play and penalty kill percentages. According to Ken Hitchcock, it doesn’t matter how you get there, just as long as you get there:
"People think you need a good power play and a good penalty kill, but what you need is a number," Hitchcock said. "There is a critical number that when the two (power play and penalty kill percentages) add up, that if you expect to have success, you've got to be at 105 or better."
Last year, the Stars’ total was 91.8, which according to my calculations is less than 105. The power play unit was slightly below middle of the pack at 17.9%, and with the talent on this team and the addition of coach Stuuuu Barnes, it seems like that should regress to (and hopefully above) the mean this year. Where the team really needs to improve, however, is on the kill, where the Stars’ 73.9% success rate was the worst the league has seen in 20 years. Luckily, Hitch is quite confident in his ability to turn things around:
"It will be fixed quickly," Hitchcock said of the penalty kill. "I don't want to say it's going to be the easiest, but there will be a dramatic change in the penalty killing immediately because you've got two coaches who know what they are doing on killing penalties. Between [assistant coach] Rick [Wilson] and myself, we have the same belief system, and we'll see a dramatic uptick in the penalty killing right away."
Considering his reputation, I would tend to agree. Check out more from Mark Stepneski’s special teams piece here.
We’re down to 28: the Stars reduced the roster again on Wednesday. [NHL]
Brian Flynn and Brent Regner have cleared waivers and R.J. Umberger has been released from his PTO with the Stars. https://t.co/b0UYB2YThv— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 27, 2017
Here’s a Ken Hitchcock quote that isn’t totally unexpected: “"He looks like a guy who could have an impact in the National Hockey League," referencing the recently cut RJ Umberger. [NHL]
Man, I remember how scary this was:
Just like the Red Wings of yore (the 90’s and 00’s), Sean Shapiro thinks the springy boards at the AAC might give the Stars a little edge this year.
I know this is behind the paywall, but if you have access it’s a good read:
Half the NHL scouted the Stars this week, what did they see? https://t.co/k6ZFkodwQ1— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) September 27, 2017
Around the League
A team-by-team prediction for who each squad’s MVP will be. [SB Nation]
While NHL players are typically much less outspoken than other athletes, Down Goes Brown details five times when they didn’t “stick to sports,” including one of the few times ever that Sean Avery did something not annoying. [The Hockey News]
One of the NHL’s more polarizing issues, offsides reviews, might now come into play a little less often. The League’s Board of Governor’s officially approved the rule that changes the penalty for a failed review from a lost timeout to a minor penalty. [Sports Net]
A look at the five best breakout candidates for the 2017-2018 season, including our very own Brett Ritchie. [Sports Net]
Bad news for our Central Division rivals:
BREAKING: #stlblues announce Fabbri will miss the entire 2017-18 season.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) September 27, 2017
Elliote Friedman takes a look at some Olympic roster decisions in his 31 Thoughts. [Sports Net]
JAGR WATCH: Old Jaromir might actually suit up this Saturday!...for the team that he partially owns in the Czech League. [The Hockey News]