Dallas Stars Ups / Downs - Post Deadline Edition
Believe it or not, the Stars are still locked up at the top of the Western Conference. Thank goodness for an early season surge, am I right? Despite the recent doom and gloom, there's a lot to be thankful for, and some legit contributors. There are also some less than stellar performers at the m
[Ed. note: This was written before the Montreal game and the Demers injury.]
No stats this week. Call it a throwback if you want. This time of year things like wins and losses start to matter more than individual accolades or even, gasp, #fancystats. So what does the ole gut say? The Stars have staggered lately, but it isn't completely team-wide.
Valeri Nichushkin / Ales Hemsky - The Stars did not appear to seriously pursue scoring help at the trade deadline, nor did they take a swing big enough to require the inclusion of a prospect of Nuke's profile. For two players on the top six bubble, this means the rest of the season is an opportunity to contribute in a scoring role. Both have been excellent in spurts, it's time to find a little consistency.
Jason Spezza - Over and over again Razor pointed out it was Spezza's powerplay while John Klingberg heals up. Over and over again Spezza has been finding the back of the net. The veteran's play is a big part of what's keeping the Stars afloat lately.
Kris Russell - Welcome to Big D. An impending free agent, Russell joins an all-world offense and a maligned defense. If they stay bad, so what, but what if things get better? The Stars feel Russell excels at limiting shots, and opposition zone time. If his skills shore up the unit he could strike big (relatively) in free agency. If they don't, has his profile really changed? Even if he has little to do with theoretical improvement, he's in a great spot.
Mattias Janmark - Same story as Nichushkin and Hemsky, only Janmark isn't struggling for big minutes. The back half of the season is his chance to cement a major role in this squad.
Radek Faksa / Brett Ritchie - The next next wave of Stars is here. Both bring energy, size, and a stylistic alternative to the run-n-fun Stars of 2015. The trick is translating cameo-contributions to something larger in scope.
Kari Lehtonen / Antti Niemi - Who starts Game 1?
Jason Demers / Alex Goligoski - Recent play aside, both men were a big part of Dallas' early season solidity. They need the November versions of each player back in a bad way, especially with Klingberg out of the lineup. Just in case there wasn't enough pressure, both are also chasing their next contract.
Johhny Oduya - Oduya is the guy with the Stanley Cup pedigree. The veteran that's "been there before" was brought in for this exact situation. Playoffs looming, team slumping, now would be an excellent time to step up.
Jamie Benn / Tyler Seguin - The Stars' dynamic duo is ice cold lately. It also feels l like every trip down the ice yields a goal against. The lack of goals is an obvious problem, less obvious is the fact that, without Benn and Seguin tilting the ice, the Stars defense and goaltending is put under added stress.
Jamie Oleksiak / Patrik Nemeth - Both stayed with the Stars, but it's status quo on the backline. Still two too many bodies. Will either get a chance to break through, or are they just trading deadline speculation for offseason prognostication?
Jim Nill - Will fans look back and see a bold man who stuck with a slumping powerhouse, or one that foolishly stood pat when greater glory was there for the taking? Would Dan Hamius have helped? Where is the penalty killing forward? When does the next young D get a chance? And which one? It sure feels like this team left the deadline on a razor's edge.
The Bottom Six - Typically a team pulls their penalty kill and defensive specialists from the depth lines. Well, defense and special teams are struggling right now. That's the bad. The good is that there will be plenty of opportunities for players like Colton or Antoine Roussel to make cases for themselves. Who grabs the ring?