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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Y Kant U Defense, Big D?

The Stars have plenty of young talent, so why do they struggle to develop it? Plus, the Texas Stars go to Round Two, the Steelheads go to Game 7, and yet there’s more.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars
Julius Honka and Stephen Johns: a tale of two Ds
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars’ extra-thin blueline has been an area of need ever since Sergei Zubov packed up his skates and headed home to Russia. After a near-interminable series of drafting and signing hits and misses – plus one epic lottery win (o hai Miro Heiskanen) – they now have a stable of talented young defensemen, both in Big D and in the pipeline.

So why in the world did Stephen Johns languish in 2016-17? Why did the organization starve Julius Honka for ice time this year? And why are putative cast-offs Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak finally playing to their potential on other teams?

Mike Heika is frustrated, too, and now he’s ready to share. The Dallas Morning News hockey writer discussed the issue during his weekly chat on Monday, April 23:

I think [the Stars] needed to pick the one or two [prospects] they wanted and then trust their development. There was too much forcing the player to prove himself (especially against another young defenseman) and it created, in my opinion, an environment where the player was afraid to make a mistake.

They also didn’t need to bring in the safety nets of veteran defensemen, because I think it was too easy for the coaches to choose the veterans. I think Stephen Johns was better this season, because he knew he had the room to make mistakes. That’s needed for a young defenseman. I also would like it if the coach could take a more patient approach to the season. It would be to see a team start with patience and end with a push. I think you can build young players with that philosophy.

By the way, among other things, Mike is willing to place odds that Valeri Nichushkin will be back in Victory Green next season:

Pretty close to 100 percent. I think he wants to be in Dallas, and the presence of Alexander Radulov will help.

Mike has more. [SportsDayDFW]

More Stars

Whose celly is worth celebrating: the Jamie Benn stick break, or the Radulov sword sheath? @DallasStars is asking you – yeah, you.

Find out where the Stars land in the “what’s best for Rasmus Dahlin?” metric as Down Goes Brown shares the 2018 NHL Draft Lottery Power Rankings. [Sportsnet]

Here’s a little something from the wayback machine. The Dallas Morning News reposts the saga of how Roger Staubach – then (maybe still) the biggest athletic star in the Dallas firmament, ever – added the extra push that brought the North Stars to Big D.

And in former Stars news, congratulations are in order for Julie and Ales Hemsky, whose first child, Milo Aleš Hemský, was born late Monday night.

Around the League(s): The Playoffs Continue

It was oh so quiet in Stanley Cup action yesterday, but there’s a huge Game 7 coming up tonight. The Boston Bruins hope home ice tilts in their favor as they take on a Toronto Maple Leafs squad that battled back from near-disaster to force a final showdown. [CBC]

The league has announced the finalists for the 2018 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award. Deryk Engelland, Wayne Simmonds and Blake Wheeler, please make your way to the front of the room.

Elsewhere, Kevin Allen names six players, from Sean Couturier to Mark Scheifele, who have boosted their own stock with star-making first-round performances.

The Washington Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, again. Now they have to shake the Ghost of Playoffs Past, who looks kinda like that dude from Happy Feet, if he had Evgeni Malkin’s face.

Playoffs season means open season on general managers. The Minnesota Wild, frustrated after another first-round elimination, have dissolved their partnership with Chuck Fletcher.

Is Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray next for the hatchet? Carol Schram examines the case. [Forbes]

Elsewhere, the Winnipeg Jets took their time and did it right. Now they have a real contender on their hands, writes Adam Gretz.

Meanwhile, about the Nashville Predators’ ZIP code-based ticket restrictions:

ECHL referee Andrea Barone was in love with hockey by the time he was 18 months old. But he nearly left the sport after one too many of the anti-gay slurs that are too much a part of sports culture. Jason Buckland writes about what “you can play” has to mean, now and in the future.

Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park: Round Two, Baby!

Mike McKenna turned in a heroic 47-save performance to shut out the Ontario Reign 1-0 and usher the Texas Stars into the second round of the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs.

Denis Gurianov got the winning goal with this sweet follow-up on a Roope Hintz rebound, and now I’m having a lot of emotions, as should you be.

The Boise Bandwagon

The Idaho Steelheads refused to lie down and die with a playoffs series on the line. After coming within a hair’s breadth of getting swept by the Allen Americans, they’ve won three in a row to force Game 7, scheduled for tonight in CenturyLink Arena. Way to be, Steel.

Forward Cole Ully scored his first professional playoffs goal, and it turned out to be the game-winner. As second Star of the Night, he spoke with the media after the 6-3 win.


Relive the first round through a selection of the best images from Enjoy.