Mar 16, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars right wing Reilly Smith (18) checks Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Record-22-22-4 (Last Place Pacific Division)
Team Goals Against-142
Goals scored-12 (Jamie Benn)
Assists-24 (Alex Goligowski)
Penalty Minutes-61 (Eric Nystrom)
Goalie Wins– 15 (Kari Lehtonen)
Goals Against Average-.916 (Kari Lehtonen)
Summary– After a disappointing run with a bunch of veterans that all were traded off at the trade deadline, It’s a whole new day in Big D from jerseys to the head coach. Lindy Ruff after a very long run in Buffalo takes over for the Stars behind the bench with his third most active wins by a coach. The Stars previewed their new jerseys this offseason with a little less annoying fan fare than the Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks.
The Stars still haven’t announced who their new captain will be but most people assume it will be Jamie Benn. The Stars in the everything is new mode also join the new Central Division after realignment which means an easier division overall but it will still be difficult to make the top 3 to assure a playoff spot.
To get some Stars news from Dallas we caught up with Alison Eldridge of the Fansided Dallas Stars site Blackout Dallas. Here is how the Q & A session went with Alison this past week.
BU-1. You were simply embarrassed by the ‘Hawks in your final regular season meeting. How important will it be to keep the games close now that you are in the same division?
BOD 1.I think it’s nice to call that last meeting embarrassing. It was downright humiliating. The only thing that took a little bit of the sting off was the 7-1 beating laid down on the Wings two weeks later. It’s obvious to say, but games like that can’t happen again for the Stars this season, regardless of which team is doing the beating and regardless of division or conference. The Stars went through such a major overhaul this offseason that any game that ends up in an eight-goal deficit will make every offseason move seem pointless. Inter-divisional games will be crucial to Dallas’ success this season, as they always have been, but I think the Stars may have a better opportunity to capitalize on the importance of those games than in the past. The Pacific Division was tough to be in and numbers were always close. Being in the Central Division this year, and having two more teams to compete with, there are a couple teams Dallas may be able to get a leg up on. Facing teams like Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis, who have all had much more successful seasons throughout the past five years that Dallas, will really show if the moves made in the offseason can put this team back in playoff contention. But for the fans to have any hope the Stars can pull it off, games against those very teams have to stay close.
BU-2. What can Tyler Seguin contribute to the team? What role do you see him playing in the lineup?
BOD 2.Seguin has a lot of potential to be a cornerstone for this new team. He’s young, he’s ambitious, he’s talented, and putting him alongside Jamie Benn, which is what it sounds like the Stars are planning on, can be a dynamic combination. Benn sounds thrilled to be heading back to left wing, and with Seguin’s strength at center, there’s a lot of potential for a brilliant on-ice relationship. I think the most significant thing Seguin can contribute at this point in his career is both preparation for and experience in the post-season. Most of the guys on the roster today don’t know what that is shy of time in the AHL playing for the Calder Cup. And even for those who have had NHL post-season experience, none have had it more recently than Seguin and the boys from Boston.
BU-3. Dallas and Chicago have never had any bad blood. Do you see that changing in the future?
BOD 3. I wouldn’t say Dallas and Chicago have had bad blood on the ice, but there’s plenty of it between Stars fans and the Hawks! The last regular season game here didn’t help at all. It always sucks to see more of the other team’s colors than your own in your own house.
I do hope to see a nice rivalry come up between the two because I think the Stars have a lot of potential to grow a strong, highly competitive team that could run with the Hawks in a year or two. I’m not particularly comfortable saying I think anything will sprout up this season because I think the Stars are going to have to spend the bulk of the year figuring out how to make this new roster function like a well-oiled machine. I wouldn’t count a nice rivalry out though.
BU-4. Do you like your chances to make the playoffs in 2014? Why?
I’m far too skeptical to say I like the chances of making the playoffs this year. Of course I hope my skepticism is way wrong, but only time will tell. The majority of this team has not had the time together to build up that chemistry that playoff-level teams must have to be successful. You have a few that have spent a couple years together, but even when looking at that, you can’t get any warm, fuzzy feelings because even with that, something wasn’t firing to get them to the playoffs anyway. As with the offseason, this will be a year of rebuilding, and usually those don’t turn out too well.
On the plus side, this team is full of youth and passion. If they’re willing to listen, adjust, put aside some pride here and there, that chemistry may come together a lot faster. And then you have guys like Benn who want nothing more than to prove to Team Canada how bad a move it was to not select him for the 2014 roster. Plenty of guys have a lot to prove, and they may jump on the chance to do it right off the bat this season. And that alone could be a season-changer.
BU-5. Who do you expect to captain your team?
BOD- 5. Benn, definitely. He has been a huge part of the team since he first set foot on the ice. He’s a familiar face and he has already proven to have some strong leadership skills. More than anything, he just seems like the dead ringer.
BU-6. Who will be the breakout star that no one has heard about this coming season.
BOD 6.This is a tough one because there are quite a few impressive newbies on the team this year. I don’t know that they would be considered individuals no one has heard about, but I think Alex Chiasson and Antoine Roussel are going to knock the socks of a lot of people this season. Both went above and beyond last year to prove they deserved to be on that bench and on that ice, and made their points very convincingly. Both are young, 22 and 23, and skated in the NHL for the first time last season. Roussel led the team in penalty minutes, and gained more than a few fans in doing so, and Chiasson scored six goals in the seven games he played before suffering a shoulder injury. He finished the season with seven points in seven games. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on him.
BU-7. Which team do you see being your new biggest rival in the new Central Division?
BOD 7. I really see either the Blues or the Wild being the Stars’ biggest rivals this season. The Blues being coached by Ken Hitchcock doesn’t mean much to the guys on the roster this year, but there are plenty of fans who remember Hitch and would love the chance to beat the coach that led the ’99 team to the Cup. That’s an energy that’s sure to flow from the stands to the ice.
And the Wild just seems like an obvious choice. They’re succeeding where the North Stars couldn’t, and what more motivation can there be than to prove which Minnesota team is really the best?
BU-8. What has been the reaction to the new uniforms for 2013-2014 in Dallas?
BOD 8.This is a really tough one to answer. From everything I’ve read, heard, discussed, etc. it’s really split just about down the middle. The “older” fans, like myself, seem to be the ones most irritated. “Newer” fans seem to be generally more accepting. A lot of the negatives involve how far removed it is from everything the team has been represented by for 20 years. Not the best 20 years, sure, but a couple decades that do include winning the Stanley Cup in there somewhere. The positives range from the modernization of the logo and the vibrancy of the colors, to creating a general logo that fits in more with the overall feel of the NHL and the other teams throughout the league. And, of course, there are a level-headed few that say they won’t pass judgment until they see it in person.
BU-9. Which free agent or draft pick will have the biggest impact this coming season?
BOD 9.Personally, I’m going to be looking a lot at Sergei Gonchar. The Stars have struggled with defense for far too long, and it seems the organization felt Gonchar was the easy solution to that problem. Looking solely at his statistics, there’s a lot of potential for him to be a big piece of the Stars’ D, but I don’t know if he alone will be enough. He and Brenden Dillon together could be promising, as could he and Stephane Robidas or Kevin Cannauton, who the Stars just brought up from the AHL. Unfortunately, I don’t get much Ottawa coverage down here in Dallas, so I’m not familiar with his style of play or his abilities. He’s also the oldest player on the roster, so that’ll play a factor in how the year goes for him also. Seguin will have a huge impact this season also, but I think Stars fans are quite familiar with what to expect of him.
BU-10. Can the Stars make the playoffs? What is the expectations for the upcoming season?
BOD 10. Looking at the roster and the management and coaching, this team can definitely make the playoffs. The talent is there, the experience is there, and both the youth and veteran players are there. This team has a great opportunity to become a well-rounded, solid team. I do think there’s a lot that has to come together that can’t be predicted, and that meshing together as soon as possible will be a key to the team seeing the post-season.
Overall, I think expectations are high for the Stars this season. It’s a team that has a lot to prove, both because it has been torn down and rebuilt, and because it has gone so long without seeing the post-season. Dallas fans are a unique breed of sports fan. Barring the Dallas Cowboys for some strange reason, unsuccessful Dallas teams are often expeditiously brushed off, until they make that up-swing again. Look at the Rangers. Look at the Mavericks. And, put honestly, the Stars are quickly working the patience of a lot of those fans. Too much longer without something to look forward to post-season, and it may soon be a hard time for the Stars in Dallas. Talk about motivation to make this season worth it.
Thanks again to Alison for taking time out of her schedule to answer our questions, and if you are looking for some Dallas news don’t forget to stop by BlackoutDallas.com.
What is your prediction for the Stars in the 2013-2014 season?