The Dallas Stars’ 2021 season had enough what-ifs to power an entire season of Marvel Studios TV. The Victory Green Gang faced an uphill return to the Stanley Cup conversation from the jump – including everything from a slew of injuries to elite players, to a force-majeure ice storm, to a COVID outbreak and the brutal scheduling that was its direct result.
Can fans hope for better things in 2021-22? Well, for starters...define “better.”
Stats guru Dom Luszczyszyn sees “a middling playoff team” in the lineup Dallas has created – and in the usual competitive bottleneck in the #MurderDeathKill Division. He shows his work in his latest post at The Athletic:
While the Central Division looks very tough this season, the Stars are in the driver’s seat and control their own destiny as long as they play up to expectations. Or better. The logjam in the Central is perfectly encapsulated by Dallas’ chances of landing anywhere from second to seventh, with all six spots having a double-digit probability. Being as bad as Arizona or as good as Colorado is a serious longshot for anyone in the Central, but anything in between is fair game.
It’s basically a toss-up and the Stars are right in the middle of it all. The big thing is that at the very least the team should be improved from last season where they finished at an 88-point pace. It’s no guarantee, but Dallas finishes above that mark 77 percent of the time — the question is just how high this team can go?
He appears to answer his own question while addressing the uncertainty in net:
Ben Bishop was supposed to be back last March, but if signing Braden Holtby is any indication it seems very unlikely he’ll be in the lineup much if at all this season. That signing also likely means that Jake Oettinger, the team’s best goaltender last year, will start the season in the AHL in favour of two worse options. Sure.
In fact, Luszczyszyn reckons the biggest obstacle to a playoffs-bound Stars team is age-related decline:
...The Stars came oh so close in 2019-20 and it feels like they’re not going to get a better chance unless all the stars align and everything goes right. There’s plenty of potential here, especially after last year’s breakout seasons from [Roope] Hintz and [Jason] Robertson, but there’s also a strong chance of decline from one of the league’s oldest groups. Good health should help and this should be a playoff team. It’s just hard to expect much more than that.
There’s more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Denis Gurianov loves the fans, and surely the fans will love him even more after this interview.
If you’re in the DFW area this weekend, the Stars would like to have you over.
Around The Leagues
In On The #Kill Taker
- Boone Jenner scored twice to help power the Columbus Blue Jackets past the St. Louis Blues, 5-2 [The Cannon]
- Jansen Harkins got two goals of his own as the Winnipeg Jets got their swag back against the Edmonton Oilers, 5-1. [NHL]
- Jonathan Toews is back, but the Chicago Blackhawks still lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Detroit Red Wings. [Second City Hockey]
- The Arizona Coyotes warmed up to the #Murder in the #MDK by taking care of the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. (Also of note: Lawson Crouse got two goals. Coincidence...?) [NHL]
- Filip Forsberg and Egor Afanasyev both scored – wait for it! – twice in the Nashville Predators’ 6-2 bodying of the Tampa Bay Lightning. [Raw Charge]
- And the Colorado Avalanche won a 6-4 all-you-can-eat goals contest against the Minnesota Wild, in which Erik Johnson scored – you guessed it! – twice. [Mile High Hockey]
Unfortunate news for the Red Wings: Jakub Vrána, who racked up a point per game after joining the team at the 2021 trade deadline, is out for at least half the season.
Tough guy Wayne Simmonds isn’t afraid to talk about his feelings, and he has a few choice words about the UHL incident.
"The way that guy did what he did, without any hesitancy, makes me sick to my stomach."— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 30, 2021
Wayne Simmonds called Andrei Denyskin’s punishment “embarrassing” and is asking for a stiffer penalty. (By @lukefoxjukebox) https://t.co/t3SyIeITxv
Any time would be a good time for Fred Sasakamoose’s new autobiography. This particular time might be better than others.
Fred Sasakamoose's autobiography is a story of racism and resilience— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) September 30, 2021
Learn more here:https://t.co/sI7So5vEv1
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
Muckbro is back, and the Texas Stars want everyone to know it.
Hockey Month is here. Enjoy it.