Originally posted by eamjr10:
The Stars are going to have to make major improvements this season to make the playoffs. The GAA and Penalty Kill was near the bottom of the league, but the defense corps has had a pretty strong preseason killing 32 of 34 penalties, let's hope that translates into the regular season. Niskanen and Daley are going to have to step up and be solid on the blue line instead of liabilities. Lehtonen has looked amazing in preseason stopping 75 of 77 shots in 3 appearances, and he was solid at the end of last season for us. I'm concerned with the shot totals he is going to face though. Last season we had a top 10 NHL offense as far as goal scoring went, and we look to be a little better off on the top 3 lines. Neal/Richards/Eriksson have a ton of potential, and I love what I have seen from Morrow/Ribs/Burish so far, and having Benn center a 3rd line with Ott and Wandell will be tough to play against.
It is more of a possibility that the Stars do miss the playoffs this year, but I do feel slightly optimistic that we could be the Avalanche or Coyotes this season. A lot will have to go right, but after the last few seasons...they can't go much more wrong.
I say that a 4th place finish in the Pacific is likely, and it is possible that the Pacific sends 4 teams, so youre looking at an 8th spot, but if we can improve in our main areas, I say a 3rd place in division is not out of the picture.
You should check out Mark Stepneski's blog on ESPN. He use to run the website "Andrew's Dallas Stars." That site was F'ing money, best run fan sports site I've ever seen (not Forum wise obvisouly becasue the 'Zone gets that, but sports information wise). The guy always delivers great info in a pretty objective way (there is a slight homerism), but out of every hockey blogger I've ever read, he is the best. He would go to all the games AND practices and deliver the info the fans didn't see.
Back in the Stars glory years, I heavily relied on Stepneski's info and was never dissapointed. When I caught the games (I was in the Bay at the time), I would still read his stuff and was amazed at how much he caught.
Edit: I personally think its hilarious people think Lehtonen needs a monster year to get us to playoffs. Lehtonen needs a .915 save percentage, and I GUARANTEE WE MAKE PLAYOFFS. Why do people think our team is so bad? Essentially our season was lost due to 2 things. 1) We lost shootouts like nobody's business 2) James Neal in his 2nd year fell off at the end (3 goals in last 22 games compared to 21 goals in first 55 games). Anyone thats seen the guy play knows he is capable of being the 21 goals in 55 games throughout the season.
I seriously would only rate 4-5 teams forwards groups better than ours. Another serious blow to our team is Morrow's recovery. I think he will be fully recovered from his knee, especially endurance wise, this year. Having Eriksson-Richards-Neal, followed by Morrow-Ribiero and Wandell-Benn is going to be a lethal combo. I'm not sold on Burrish and frankly I think Ott should have been let go, but those 7 forwards are severely under rated. A lot of teams have better All Star combos (ie Datsyuk/Zetterburg, Thornton/Marleau, Crosby/Malkin, Ovechkin/Backstrom), but our depth is pretty good. Richards was finally healthy and was one of the best in the league. Eriksson is a Selke candidate and 30-goal scorer. Neal is the model of the new power forward for the NHL. Benn, I've never seen such a good wrister since Sakic. Wandell, speedy defensive forward with offensive playmaking ability? Yes please. Morrow? If he is recovered, arguably best leader in the league and him and Ribiero on fire together, is the way hockey was meant to be played.
If anything, this team will be BETTER than last season. Losing Modano/Turco? I love Modano, but honestly our team is better without him. He cast a long shadow on our lineup and its time for our young guys to step up. Modano is my favorite player of all time, but I still think him leaving is better for our team. Turco gone? Did you see him play? Last 2 years, he has been beyond garbage and only started based on the belief of "He has got to get back in the groove? Right?" Turco's game was based on agility and its clearly fallen off last 2 years and his terrible positioning has finally caught up to him. Again, anyone thats seen Turco play, knows his positioning/angles has always been sub-par. But his athleticism USE to make up for it. Like Finnish goalies are in demand en masse at the moment. Why? Because their development program teaches positioning over skill. Roy produced the butterfly in its perfect form that really started to show that positioning with better angles is superior to any athletic skill without it. Turco always refused to play that style, and its why the Stars never won a 2nd Cup. Angles>skill for goalies.
[ Edited by SunDevilNiner79 on Oct 7, 2010 at 12:49 AM ]