Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Losing a Superstar to Find an Identity

It is a known fact that the Dallas Stars were sellers at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline. Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, and Tomas Vincour all taking up new residence on other teams. The returns varied from great, to good, to “what the...?”. Draft picks and prospects were the majority of return with only one current NHL Roster player in Lane MacDermid.

And as Brandon Worley of Defending Big D (a fan run Dallas Stars blog resource) put it, “The Dallas Stars were supposed to roll over and play along with the narrative, yet now they refuse to go away.”

That was the general consensus following the trades, go quietly and bid for a high draft pick, hope the Boston Bruins make it to the Eastern Conference Finals of the playoffs to turn that conditional 2nd round pick into a 1st, and simply prepare for next season.

Something else has started happening -- contrary to the plan. An apathetic version of dump and chase on some lines, and others with too many guys, trying too hard to posses the puck too long has changed into the cliche but seemingly effective North & South straight to the net game. Lines became more consistent in their direction of play and the puck has been ending up in the oppositions net... a lot.

Last night’s 5 to 1 routing of the LA Kings showed a forward group that finished their hits in all zones, forechecked relentlessly, and created turnovers. The defensive core pushed the majority of the chances outside, played physical along the boards, and transitioned the puck effortlessly. The penalty kill does what the penalty kill do, and the power play is finally starting to look like a unit (still not generating enough shots, but that’s a whole other discussion).

Before the game, the King’s head coach Daryl Sutter was quoted, “Jagr, as great a player as he is, is a difficult player to play with...” and many fans shared his sentiment. Benn’s game has take a bit of a turnaround since Jagr’s departure. He is hitting, he’s shooting, and he’s embarrassing defensemen once again. “[Keeping] it simple, stupid,” as Ray Whitney so eloquently put it. And when you’re best player is playing his best game, others follow. A trademark of the Brenden Morrow School of Leadership.

Placing Chiasson on his line, who is getting significant and deserved praise for his physical play and net drive and Ray “The Wizard” Whitney whose nickname derives from his ability to move the puck is the perfect marriage of Playmaker, Sniper, and Power Forward; the type of line an NHL ‘13 video game GM could hope for.

The type of game that line has been putting out on the ice flows all the way down to the strong forechecking 4th line and is starting to show what this team can be what this team is already made of.

There is now a strong divide among Stars fans. That high draft pick is getting further and further away, and the playoffs are only inching closer. There are still demands for the team to tank for the highest possible draft pick, and a group of sensible adults explaining why that is not the smartest decision for the franchise to make.

For me, the Dallas Stars are hitting, passing, scoring, and most importantly winning. I like nothing more than to see my team win.

1 comment:

  1. There has been an infectious sentiment in the lines of the past few years that has brewed a "we cannot win" mentality. Suddenly, you flip the roster upside down, add some young guys beaming with confidence from their excellent run in the AHL, and you have a team that desires greatness. They're just trying to prove themselves to the organization. The organization is getting a lot more than they bargained for.