Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stars Review and Predictions for the Upcoming season

It was one rollarcoaster ride for the Dallas Stars and their fans in the 2010-2011 season. The season came down to one game and it was against the Minnesota Wild who had nothing to play for considering they weren't going to make the playoffs even with a win. In the other hand all the Stars needed was a win in regulation or in overtime to overtake Chicago's 8th place position and make the playoffs for the first time in two years after the Hawks lost to the Detroit earlier in the day in regulation . At the end of the day, Stars never got that win and missed the playoffs for the third year in a row. One thing was clear though, we need a change.

Wild score an empty netter to beat the Stars 5-3 and end their season

Expectations weren't high going into the 2010-2011 season for the Stars, many analyst and fans around the league had the Stars finishing at the bottom three in the West. It was also their first season that the Stars will be without their franchise players Mike Modano (21 years) and Marty Turco (9 years). Stars were quick to respond to the critics who had them finishing in the bottom of the standings. When the All-Star break came a long, Dallas was one of the top teams in the league. Stars were 30-15-5, many were surprised and some were not buying it and was calling it a fluke first half. Although players were having breakout seasons for the Stars, Kari was saving us games, Loui and Brad were making plays and getting us highlight reel goals and Jamie Benn was evolving into a star player for us. Everything was going great and it was fun to watch Stars hockey again, they were playing great hockey and most importantly they were winning. That is until the injury bug hit us. Jamie Benn, Adam Burish, Brad Richards, Nicklas Grossman and key depth players were all out with injuries causing players like Vincour, Williams, Langenbrunner, Ott to step up their game and all play bigger roles on the team. That didn't go so well, and all of a sudden the Stars were playing god awful hockey.

Their record in 10 games after the break was a 1-8-1, all of a sudden the Stars were just free falling.

All of a sudden from battling for 2nd place in the Western Conference they were battling for their playoff lives, getting outplayed, outscored and blowing every lead they had in the finals minutes and seconds of the game.  The slide caused GM Joe Nieuwendyk to pull a trigger on a trade that saw one of our young star wingers James Neal and defensemen Matt Niskanen to go to Pittsburgh for a young offensive defensemen with star potential Alex Goligoski. Almost everyone was calling this a steal for the Penguins, it was a big question mark trade for Stars fans as many of us felt that we could have gotten a lot more in return. But it proved to be a great trade, Goligoski played 23 games for the Stars, he managed to get 5 goals and 10 assists for a total of 15 points. Goligoski is one of the best offensive defensemen we've had since Sergei Zubov. Lossing Neal wasen't as bad as people thought, James Neal was inconsistent at times and was seen on the score sheet every 3 games or so playing on a line with Richards and Loui and with Benn emerging as a top 6 forward there was no use for Neal. Niskanen was basically a salary dump. Little side note, Gogligoski racked up more points in his 23 games with the Stars than Neal and Niskanen combined with the Penguins.

Alex Goligoski celebrates after scoring a goal on the Nashville Predators

As the season was coming to an end, no one could predict which team would make it for how crazy the Western Conference standings were. At one point 5th through 12th was only separated by 4 points. The end of the season was approaching and teams were slipping out of the battle for the last playoff spot, Minnesota, St.Louis and the Calgary Flames. The season for the Stars would be decided at the last day of the regular season on April 10th. With Detroit beating the Hawks in regulation, all the Stars needed was a win over the Wild in regulation or in overtime. The Stars would end up losing 5-3 in an embarrassing effort, they played like they didn't care, they got out played by a team that had nothing to lose. When your fighting for a playoff spot, you shouldn't be playing the way the Stars did. They only have themselves to blame.

With that being said, you can take a break from reading, sit down and relax while you watch some Stars highlights!

TOP moments of the season for me were:
The rising of Jamie Benn
The little preview we got of Alex Goligoski
Kari Lehtonen proved he can be a reliable number 1
The leadership of Adam Burish

TOP 3 games for me:

Negatives during the season:
All the blown leads we gave up in the final minutes of the game and losing in the end
Ownership problem while the season was going on
Brad Richard situation
All the injuries we had that most likely cost us the season
bad coaching?

TOP Highlights:

It was definitely a rollarcoaster 2010-2011 season for the Stars and their fans that ended in a heartbreak. It was tough to see our team end the season the way they did and was frustrating. But it was a great season nonetheless, it was a fun first half to see us being one of the top teams in the league again. Although we should have known at the end all those blown leads in the final minutes it would come back to haunt us....

In the offseason the first thing the Stars did was signing their affiliate head coach Glen Gulutzan. This was a good choice for a head coach, Glen really knows how to win, his winning percentage in his career is over .500 and has over 300 wins. He brought the Texas Stars the the Calder Cup Finals in their first year in the league only to lose in game 6. I like this choice, he knows some of the players, knows how to win and is young and can relate to the players.

The draft was a successful one. The Stars fans needed something to look forward to after having a disappointing season, and the organization did just that. Stars picked up a monstrous size defensemen at 6'7 with a bright future, Jamie Oleksiak. Jamie is the guy we needed, a good stay at home defensemen, plays good defensively and has a big upside in him. For the first time in awhile Stars fans were happy with their 1st round selection. Other names the Stars drafted were Brett Ritchie, a big 6'3 strong winger who knows how to get on the score sheet and plays hard, Emil Molin who is a creative and skilled two-way forward, Troy Vance at 6'5 who is a good puck moving defensemen with good skating ability and poise, Matej Stransky is a 6'3 forward with great hands and good playmaking abilities and the Stars last pick was Jyrki Jokipakka, a 6'3 late bloomer defensemen from Finland who is a good skater and has good skills. Overall you can tell Nieuwendyk and the staff's goal was going big, i believe they reached their goal on draft weekend and did a great job on picking up players that will help the organization in the future.

July 1st just passed and Joe Nieuwendyk stated that he was going to be active, well he was. GM Joe Nieuwendyk picked up six free agents on July 1st, the biggest signing was Stanley Cup Champion Michael Ryder for 2 years.

Michael Ryder lifts up lord Stanley after beating Canucks in game 7

Michael Ryder - Great signing, Ryder already has chemistry with Ribeiro and is the right handed shot the Stars and Ribeiro wanted and will be a great addition to the powerplay. Ryder could also play with Benn and Loui considering both have pretty good playmaking abilities. Although I rather see him with Morrow and Ribs, that line could produce some damage. Really liking this signing, we needed a top 6 forward and we got it. Not much else to say considering it's a positive signing all around!

Sheldon Souray - Always saw Souray in a Stars uniform for some reason. When TSN said Souray has been signed, I stopped what I was doing looked at the TV and said it's Dallas for sure, low and behold they said Dallas. I was not surprised at all. Good signing, others may feel other wise but I really like this signing. It's only a 1 year deal, it's a low risk high reward type of deal. Will get to see if he still has it, I think this is a very under-rated signing and Souray will have a very good season. Imagine Souray and Gogo on the point for the powerplay? Pretty sweet no? Again, good signing, we have nothing to lose. I like it.

Vernon Fiddler - Good depth signing, another under-rated one from what i'm hearing. Don't know to much about him but he will be a solid 3rd liner with Adam Burish and perhaps Steve Ott. Fiddler is also great at face-offs and penalty kills, he will be a great addition to the team

Radek Dvorak - Dvorak and Fiddler together will improve our PK big time, it's looking good right now. Dvorak will be a good 4th liner veteran presence for guys like Vincour and Wandell. Good depth signing again and could get 10+ goals

Adam Pardy - Like this signing, Pardy will most likely be our 6th-7th defensemen for us, he has good size and can play physical. That's all I know about Pardy

Jake Dowell - Another good depth signing, once again don't know much about Dowell but he is similar to Burish in a way. Will be a good 3rd-4th liner for us and good at face-offs

Overall it was all great signings, we have improved our bottom 6 with guys like Fiddler, Dvorak and Dowell. Our PK has really improved with Fiddler and Dvorak along with our face-off guys. We addressed our need for a top 6 forward with forward Michael Ryder, he know's how to score and will be great with Morrow and Ribeiro. Souray could be a depth defense our a top 4 depending how he plays, he and Ryder have improved our powerplay. All in all it was a very good day and the Stars have improved overall. The question is though, have they improved enough to make the playoffs?

Now that the review is over, the prediction part is next.

Where do I see the Stars finishing this year? Honestly, I think the Stars are the hardest team to predict this year. With Richards gone, many fans see us finishing in the bottom of the standings again. But fans tend to forget we have players like Ribeiro, Morrow, Eriksson, Jamie Benn, Kari, Gologoski and can still compete for a playoff spot. Last year I did something similar to this, just not as much details. But I said the Stars will surprise everyone and will make the playoffs, I was one of the few to predict that. I was doing very well with my prediction up until the injury bug hit us and we just completely fell apart. This year, if we stay away from injuries or avoid the longterm one's I say we finish in anywhere from 7th to 10th. Kari will have a full year under his belt and he did a great job last year, if Stars don't over play him and use Raycroft more he should be find. Jamie Benn is evolving into a franchise player for us and I feel he could put him 60 points with Eriksson. Morrow, Ribeiro and Ryder will all have great years, mostly Ryder. I could potentially see him reach 30 goals if that line stays healthy. Our bottom six is much more improved from last year along with our penalty kill. The defense also improved from last year, Goligoski will play his first full year as a Stars, he could potentially put up 40-50 points if he stays healthy. 

I would like to see us get another top 6 forward to play with Benn and Loui, I don't feel Ott would be the best fit. Perhaps using Fistric and plus should get us a good top 6 forward who can score and put us in better position to make the playoffs.

For now with the team we have, playoffs isn't out of the picture but it will be a tough road ahead. I wouldn't count them out though. 

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it! Go Stars Go!!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


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