The Dallas Stars are on break right now, along with the rest of the league, and it’s hard to say if this is a good or bad time for it.
On one hand, the Victory Green Gang has just begun another much-needed winning streak. On the other, they have an opportunity to fine-tune their play for the hard slog back into playoffs contention.
Stars senior staff writer Mike Heika took stock of the team’s last two games in his latest piece. And while he doesn’t find a blueprint for success in the home record, he’ll take those two victories as a good start:
Dallas was the better team Monday in a frenetic, highlight-filled 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center. It stacked that victory on top of an equally non-traditional overtime win over the Blackhawks Saturday and now have two wins in a row as they stop for a few days because the NHL would like to get a hold on the pandemic that seems to be making a resurgence in North America.…
“I think everyone left it out there on the table,” said winger Jason Robertson, who finished with two assists. “It’s a good feeling going into this little mini break we’re having.”
Now the team has to figure out how to manage both the expected and unexpected breaks in play – and how to keep this new winning streak alive into their next contest:
If it’s Dec. 27 against Nashville at home, that would be a perfect transition. If it’s later on the road, that would be fine too. The Stars were scheduled to play in Chicago on Thursday, and that would’ve been a great challenge, [head coach Rick] Bowness said.
“I was looking forward to going into Chicago and getting a road win, and that’s obviously not happening,” Bowness said of the shutdown. “We’re still kind of digesting it, the whole thing here. I just heard about it after the game, so we’ve got to digest the game and then we’ll figure out what we’re doing. We’re not doing anything until December 26 at two o’clock.”
There’s more at Mike’s place. [Dallas Stars]
“Seven different goal scorers – I believe that’s two short of Santa’s full team of reindeer.” Monday’s win boosted Razor’s holiday spirits in a big way.
Meanwhile, Riley Tufte and Thomas Harley are headed back to the Texas Stars – where the games are also postponed (see below).
Around The Leagues
#Murder Was The Case
Lightning score three unanswered goals to beat Golden Knights, 4-3 https://t.co/qWr2KItgcj— Raw Charge, a Champa Bay Lightning web site (@RawCharge) December 22, 2021
You knew this was coming, and now it’s here.
National Hockey League players will not compete in February's Beijing Winter Olympics in the wake of 50 NHL games being postponed over Covid-19 issues, according to multiple reports https://t.co/h96wEY4j6M— AFP News Agency (@AFP) December 22, 2021
Here’s the official announcement from the league.
Of course, this could also make it easier to reschedule some of those pandemic postponements.
NHL started reaching out this morning to teams about dates they’d have available during the Olympic break. Building availability much better in some places than others, so whatever re-purposed schedule emerges will be interesting.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 21, 2021
How to sum up in a single tweet:
Now for the fun exercise of, "Hey, uh... you wanna go to Beijing and play in the Olympics?" and taking essentially who ever says yes.— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 22, 2021
In case you haven’t noticed, the Vancouver Canucks under Bruce Boudreau have gotten better. A lot better.
Bruce Boudreau isn't worried about losing momentum from the Canucks' six-game winning streak because four games were postponed through the NHL holiday break due to COVID-19.https://t.co/KW46xiOBZZ— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) December 21, 2021
In fact, the way they’ve righted the ship is remarkable enough that former NHL coach Rocky Thompson took a close look at the specifics.
If the World Juniors are your favorite holiday gift, take a look at how Group B, including Team USA, will shape up. (Stars-related note: Sergei Zubov coaches Team Russia.)
Meanwhile, Team Canada is practically its own group.
Canada's hopes at the IIHF World Junior Championship could be led by a pair of No. 1's. Owen Power, the No. 1 pick of the Sabres in the 2021 NHL Draft, and Shane Wright, projected to be No. 1 in 2022, are each expected to play a big role for Canada.https://t.co/VxoLK9KbEz— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) December 22, 2021
Sad news: Curt Ridley, a former NHL goalie (and later, a Stars fan) whose customized masks are still memorable, has died at age 70.
R.I.P. Curt Ridley, leaving us at age 70. #NYR, #Canucks, #LeafsForever goalie lived his NHL dream, his wonderful Canucks mask still fondly remembered decades later. In appreciation of Curt: https://t.co/dp9yIi3s5n via @NHLdotcom— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) December 21, 2021
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park – And Beautiful Boise
ICYMI, it’s official – where the Winnipeg Jets can’t go, their AHL affiliate can’t go, either.
The AHL today announced that due to league COVID-19 protocols and related travel concerns affecting the Manitoba Moose, Manitoba’s games at Texas scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 21 and Wednesday, Dec. 22 have been postponed.— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) December 18, 2021
Make-up dates have yet to be determined.
The Idaho Steelheads are often a source of unalloyed Stars hockey joy, and this season is no exception.
A shutout to end 2021 and top-2 in the ECHL going into the New Year... Exactly the kind of gift we were looking for this holiday season!— Idaho Steelheads (@Steelheads) December 20, 2021
Check out the @Idaho_Central Postgame Highlights from yesterday's win over Rapid City, as we take 5 out of 6 games to close the homestand! pic.twitter.com/AIc0xRSQdg
The Steelheads Booster Club wishes you a happy holiday break. Ya filthy animals.