The first quarter of this season elicited a pretty hefty amount of frustration from Stars fans. They would look great in one game, then terrible in the next. They would jump out to a two or three goal lead, only to give it up. They would dominate play for long stretches, and then give up a quick barrage of goals that they couldn’t recover from. The last couple of months, however, have been different:
The Stars’ transition this season has taken work. Dallas started 11-10-1 and was outscored 65-61 in that span. In the past 28 games, the Stars have gone 17-8-3 and outscored the opposition 94-69. That’s a goal differential of 1.08 per game.
That also helps prove Hitchcock’s theory that by playing better defense, you can actually increase your offensive numbers.
While Ken Hitchcock’s decisions about who to play and how many minutes to give to certain members of the team remain a point of contention for the Stars’ faithful, most would have to admit that what he’s doing seems to be working. One thing that he’s continually harped on is forging an identity for the team, and that message seems to have really resonated with the players over the last month or two:
“We are really buying into our identity, and that is a team that’s hard to play against and comes to compete every night,” captain Jamie Benn said. “We’ve had everyone buy in and do their part, and that’s why we’re able to do good things.”
Two years ago when the Stars won the Western Conference, it felt like as long as they were within 3 goals, it was a game. Lindy Ruff’s coaching style occasionally led to 3 goal deficits. With Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, the quick strike, come from behind style of play might not be there, but the leads to come back from don’t seem quite as big, either, which could prove extremely valuable come springtime.
See more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
Our longtime friend Craig Ludwig joined Scott Burnside for his Burnside Chats podcast and...I can’t stop laughing at these pictures. I remember being a little kid and thinking that Luds just had huge calf muscles:
In this episode of our Burnside Chats podcast, @taz3311 talks about his legendary shin pads and the challenges of being an NHL color commentator.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 30, 2018
LISTEN: https://t.co/Xc5et7u7eW pic.twitter.com/p9u1UfZp0F
Dan Hamhuis may not be the biggest, strongest, or fastest guy, but his intelligence and ability will have him reaching a pretty significant milestone tonight, in a season in which he has been extremely solid and a steady force for the younger blueliners. Also, he’s apparently 3rd in the NHL in games played by a defenseman? And 19th in games overall? Holy mackerel, did not realize that:
Here’s some more Hamhuis talk from the magnificent Sean Shapiro:
Hitch says Honka is likely back in tomorrow after he played well in second game of AHL stint this past weekend— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) January 29, 2018
While Honka might be joining the lineup, Monsieur Antoine Roussel might be sitting this one out:
Around the League
America is taking over hockey (hahaha):
It’s a slow news day:
A very, very slow news day:
As Tyler mentioned yesterday, Tampa Bay is looking like the team to beat this year:
Story from all-star weekend: On Kucherov's magic move, the Lightning, and how they have to regain focus as the Stanley Cup frontrunner going forward. https://t.co/MLrTi2cgsx pic.twitter.com/n91XY6RTrq— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) January 29, 2018
A couple #MDK updates. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles...” Sun Tzu (maybe):
Here’s an idea: let’s take a rule that is incredibly subjective from the refs’ point of view and make it way more vague:
The NHL is telling its referees not to "overthink" goalie interference. "Don't search it to death," he said. My blog from Bettman's state of the union. https://t.co/o84mr8GSA7— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) January 28, 2018
The writing is on the wall for Jaromir Jagr’s NHL career. Here are some stats from his time in the league that might just blow your mind: