It was quite an eventful week for the Dallas Stars. They traded one of their best players, an NHL realignment plan has everyone talking, one Stars player is light in the wallet and oh yeah, the Stars went 2-1 this past week.
The Dallas Stars started the week in Columbus on Tuesday night against the worst team in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets. The Stars never trailed in the game, but struggled to hold the lead. Every time the Stars scored a goal, the Blue Jackets answered back, including a goal late in the third period with less than two minutes to go. A victory seemed to go out the window at that point. But in overtime, Loui Eriksson, made a fantastic effort by putting a rebound into the net while falling down; the goal lifted the Stars to a 5-4 overtime win over the Blue Jackets. Eriksson was the fifth Stars player to score a goal in the game. That type of offensive contribution by numerous players is critical for the Stars. It means they aren’t reliant on one particular player or line to make plays on a night-to-night basis. Nice to see that.
The team was without Michael Ryder for the game, because Ryder was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for left wing Erik Cole. Cole is a veteran with the size that the Dallas Stars covet because of the teams they have to play against in their conference. Cole also has two years remaining on his contract, while Ryder is slated to be a free agent at the end of the year. It’s tough to lose a guy who was one of the team leaders in scoring, but the Stars made this deal thinking about both the present and the future.
Wednesday brought along a memo to every NHL team that the league was looking into realigning the divisions. Needless to say, it received plenty of attention, including a not-so ringing endorsement from the NHLPA. More on the realignment proposal in a post later this week.
The Stars hit the ice again Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center. In a word, it was: ugly. Really ugly. The Oilers scored the game’s opening goal a little over a minute into the game and never looked back. They absolutely throttled the Dallas Stars 5-1. Kari Lehtonen made his return in net; his surrendering 5 goals was disapointing. The Oilers had nine power plays in the game, with the Stars receiving 36 penalty minutes. It was just that sort of night for the Dallas Stars and their fans. This was a game that you hoped the players would just forget about and focus on the next game.
Jamie Benn’s wallet was a little lighter after the Oilers game. Benn was fined ten thousand dollars for his cross check on Oilers forward Ryan Jones. Benn, clearly frustrated with how the game was going, nailed him in the upper back with four minutes to go in the game. Benn received a five minute major and a game misconduct for the action. Surely Benn realizes what he did was wrong and will not do it again. Otherwise, he could face a significantly higher punishment from the league.
Fans were excited and perhaps apprehensive about how the Dallas Stars would rebound Sunday against the St. Louis Blues. The answer: they responded very well. Down 1-0 in the first, newly acquired Erik Cole scored his first goal as a member of the Stars to tie the game 1-1. In third period, Eriksson and Jaromir Jagr each scored their seventh goals of the year to put the game away in a 4-1 win over the Blues. The lack of focus and the bad bounces from Thursday night against Edmonton were the exact opposite in this one. The Dallas Stars played disciplined hockey too; they only took one penalty.
The Dallas Stars performance against the Blues was exactly what Stars fans wanted and needed to see from this team. The number of veterans on this team is undoubtedly a major benefit and the mian reason why the team was able to bounce back like they did. Don’t let one game get to you. This is why GM Joe Nieuwendyk brought in the veterans he did. To help guide the team through rough waters like Thursday night. This will help the Stars make the playoffs this year.
As of Monday morning, the Stars are 11-9-2, good for 24 points and seventh place in the Western Conference. It is a complete logjam in the Dallas Stars’ conference when it comes to making the playoffs. Five teams are tied for fourth with 24 points. Three other teams are a mere two points behind. Things will change rapidly; it will be really interesting to see how it all happens. Which team will get hot at the right time and make a serious playoff run? That’s what makes this shortened NHL season so exciting.
The Dallas Stars have two games this week and they are very important. Two division games, both on the road. This is where the Stars veterans need to step up and lead the team to a couple of victories. Got to get points in these divisional contests.
- Thursday, March 7 @ Los Angeles 10:30 PM ET/9:30 CT
- Saturday, March 9 @ Phoenix 8:00 PM ET/7 CT
We’ll see how the Dallas Stars do this week. With only two games, it will be slightly easier to rest up and focus on the task at hand. However, these are two tough divisional opponents. If the Stars want to make the playoffs, these are games they have to win. How they do is truly written in the stars.