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Dallas Stars Daily Links: The Hitchcock Effect

Stars’ recent play has made the name of this website very appropriate. Plus, suspensions, Olympics prep, and sad Canadiens.

New York Rangers v Dallas Stars

Happy Thursday, friends! Yesterday was a bit of a strange one - it was National Signing Day for college football, which is also known as National Weird Middle-Aged Men Obsess Over What College Teenagers Will Attend Day. It was also apparently Mystery, Alaska day for the NHL, which you would have noticed if you got on Twitter and follow anything tangentially related to the NHL Network (I’m not ripping on the movie, just the amount of promotion). Anyways, on to the links. Go Stars, boo Blackhawks!

The Stars have really battened down the hatches in the defensive zone lately. While it has taken some time for Ken Hitchcock’s system to truly set in and resonate with the team, the Stars have been reaping the fruits of their increased labor in their own zone (I’m really feeling the idioms today, apparently). Captain Jamie Benn thinks it starts with the guys who play in front of the net:

“Obviously, our goalies have been playing great. It starts with them,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “Our defense corps has played a pretty solid game. They are not the flashiest bunch, other than that one guy. They get the job done. It’s what we do as a group out there in our defensive zone and take care of our end and the attention of the little details that have put us in a good spot in our goals against.”

Hitchcock and John Klingberg, the aforementioned “one guy”, also posit that the team’s offensive play has taken quite a bit of pressure off of the defense, much like a football team time running the ball and winning the time of possession battle. Whatever the case, what they’ve been doing has been working, and I’m sure the continual improvements have really gotten the players to buy in:

The Stars have seen a steady drop in the numbers throughout the season. If you break down the season into ten-game segments the Stars goals against have gone from 3.1 in the first ten, to 2.9 the next 10, to 2.8, 2.3 and 2.1 through the first 50 games. Over the last four, it’s been 1.25.

See more over at Mark’s place. [NHL]

Stars Stuff

Have stay on brand with the lede:

If you’re interested in visiting Stars training camp next season, you’ll need to look at flights to Idaho:

For Throwback Thursday, the Stars took fan back to 1998:

If the last 10 games could be extrapolated to the full 82, Ben Bishop and Kari Lehtonen would be threatening Marty Turco’s then-NHL record 1.72 GAA. (Let us all knock on wood now.) Mike Heika explains how the goalies have stepped up their games in a big way recently. [SportsDayDFW]

Daily double Heika bonus: Martin Hanzal is a big guy (6’5” and 230 pounds), but I actually don’t think that’s what Ken Hitchcock was referring to when he called Hanzal a, “big, big part of the lineup.” [SportsDayDFW]

John Klingberg is a baller - erm, pucker? Let’s go with that:

Scott Burnside also has some throwback action to a guy that I always slightly forget about being on the Stars until I remember how much I enjoyed his game:

Around the League

Elliotte Friedman has Thoughts. Thirty-one of them, in fact:

The NHL Department of Player Safety ruled yesterday evening on Alexandre Burrows’ actions toward Taylor Hall. The ten-game suspension sounds about right:

The Wild received some bad news yesterday. Jonas Brodin is the team leader in plus/minus:

Statheads unite! FiveThirtyEight has a pretty cool breakdown of the players at the Olympics. [FiveThirtyEight]

I was preparing to channel my inner Rodney Dangerfield on the Stars’ behalf, but then noticed they made quite a leap in the Hockey News’ Power Rankings this week:

Cue sad Charlie Brown music:

Tuukka Rask is also pucking pretty hard lately:

Here’s some more content in honor of the Olympics:

And last, but not least: