Monday, October 3, 2011

Stars Give Fans A Reason To Get Excited For The Season

Stars went 6-1 in preseason this year, outscoring their opponents 29-14 and going undefeated in their three home games. Ribeiro ended the preseason with the most points in the league with 10 in 4 games (2+8). Preseason or not, those are impressive numbers for a guy who has been playing in the shadow of former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards. There are many non believers out there saying Stars will be at the bottom of the conference because we don't have a number one centermen and that Ribeiro won't be able to repeat what Richards did for us. But what did Richards do for us? Sure he helped us in our magical run in the 2008 playoffs, but it was Ribeiro who brought us there because of his performance in the season making us one of the top teams in the west. Other than that Stars missed the playoffs for the next three years. Many critics and fans around the league say because we lost our "best player" we won't make the playoffs, but they forget that we have improved our defense, our bottom six, our toughness, and special teams. Not to mention, many Stars fans wouldn't call Richards our best player last year after the year Loui had, some may say after how Benn ended his season he might be right up there with the two.

Although preseason doesn't mean anything, it does give you a glimpse of how the players will play with their new linemates. In this case, old linemates. Ribeiro and Ryder were creating fire together, and making fans go "ou" and "aw". Both players after several years apart, picked up right where they left off five years ago in Montreal. Both players combined had 16 points in four games a piece. The one game I watched they were really connecting and it's only the start. With a power forward in Morrow who is a gritty forward who makes his home in front of the goalie, a nifty playmaker in Mike Ribeiro with sweet hands and a shoot first guy in Michael Ryder, I think Stars fans will forget all about Brad Richards.

Another thing preseason showed us is that Ott's skating has improved and is looking like a top six forward, while Loui still has his scoring touch. One of the biggest surprises this preseason has been offseason signing tough guy Jake Dowell who produced 1 goal and 5 assists giving him a total of 6 points in five games. Obviously we don't expect Dowell to come anywhere close to that pace, although it's always good to see a tough guy scoring for us even if it's preseason.

Goligoski was brought in before the trade deadline during the 2010-2011 season in a trade that saw Neal and Niskanen go to the Penguins. Goose ended up playing the last 23 games for the Stars and finished with 15 points. Goligoski had a promising off season racking up 5 points and looked very good. Other honorable mentions of players who played well were Vincour, Larsen, Fraser and Pardy.

As for the goalies, Kari looked very solid and posted above average stats going undefeated. His biggest game was on September 27th where he faced 46 shots only allowing three goals in a 4-3 Stars win in overtime. Bachman also had a solid preseason although he didn't see much action, along with Besko who looked good in the game I went to go see in Montreal. Raycroft who won the backup job (which was to be expected even though Bachs put up a good fight) played decent. His best game was a 4-0 shutout against the Blues in the Stars last preseason game stopping all 33 shots. While Jack Campbell did ... eh

After a very good preseason, Stars fans should be excited for the new season. I expect Stars to surprise many this year and play 82 games of solid hockey. If they avoid any long term injuries, if Kari plays at his level and our top forwards come and play every night, I truly believe we will get to see the Stars play past April 7th.

Right now the Stars are at 25 players, they plan on cutting two more to have a 23 man roster before the Stars first game of the season, which is in four days against the Blackhawks. The obvious cut is Scott Glennie who is recovering from a minor concussion. That leaves Larsen and Vincour. The chances of Larsen making the team is very small, Stars won't go with 8 defensemen on opening day which leaves Vincour. Both rightfully earned a spot on the team after their play in the preseason, but only one could stay, which is why I am willing to bet that Larsen will be assigned to the Texas Stars in following days leading up to October 7th.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!