Dallas Stars Fan can rejoice: the NHL lockout is over! Both the owners and the players have ratified the agreement, and training camps have begun. They only get a week to prepare before the puck drops on the shortened, delayed and much anticipated NHL season. The Dallas Stars will begin their season with a home game at American Airlines Center, Saturday, January 19th at 7 pm against the Phoenix Coyotes. Fans who go to the game and watch on TV will see a far different Dallas Stars roster than last year. The Stars hope that the changes bring about some much better and different results.
Last year, the Dallas Stars really didn’t have a whole lot of offensive success. Their power play was abysmal, and they had to rely on goalie Kari Lehtonen to keep them in games with his superb save-making ability. This year, the Stars hope that the pieces they have put in place will add the much needed offensive firepower thy were lacking last year.
They’ve added players such as the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr to provide a boost to the offense, but an intense spark to the Dallas Stars power play. Ray Whitney came over from the Phoenix Coyotes. He, like Jagr, has plenty of experience and is a little older. The experience and wisdom of both Jagr and Whitne should help with the younger guys on the roster. Derek Roy (who they acquired from the Buffalo Sabres) and young Cody Eakin (who they got in a trade with the Washington Capitals) should also provide a boost to the offense. The Stars really like Eakin and the skill set he has.
The Dallas Stars have their leading scorer, Loui Eriksson, returning. Last year, Eriksson scored 26 goals and recorded 45 assists for a team leading 71 points. Leading goal scorer Michael Ryder returns this year. Last year he scored 35 goals. The bottom line for the Dallas Stars is that they kept some key pieces from last year’s team, but they also infused some veterans and young guys to balance this team out. Last year, the Stars hung around in the Pacific Division for a while before running out of gas and time down the stretch.
This year, the Dallas Stars are poised to make a run at the NHL Playoffs, though it is very difficult to tell which teams will have success in this lockout-shortened season. The Pacific Division will be tough again this year. The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings should be the favorite to win the division. The Phoenix Coyotes made the playoffs last year. The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks may be a year away from making a playoff push.
There are plenty of dangerous teams in the Western Conference. The Detroit Red Wings will, of course, be up near the top, as will the Chicago Blackhawks. The Vancouver Canucks will be good as well. The team to watch out for is the Minnesota Wild. With the additions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, not to mention all of the talent in their farm system with their affiliate the Houston Aeros, the Wild are a team on the rise. Maybe with this shortened season, they won’t be able to build the necessary chemistry, but they will be the top team to gun for next year.
The Stars though should be able to make the playoffs. With all of their acquisitions in the offseason, the Stars seem destined for a playoff spot this year. Their fate, as it always is, will be written in the stars. Hope the fans come out to support this team. Hockey season is back. Enjoy it.
Full schedule can be found here.