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Category: Stars

Stars Defense Needs Some Work

The Dallas Stars’ defense has not looked good this year.  I figured I would start things out with the obvious and move on from there.  Although dealing with early injuries to two of it’s leading members – Sergei Zubov and Phillippe Boucher (who has since returned) – the Stars have struggled to find cohesion this season.  This has led to a spot that the Stars aren’t used to – dead last.

The Stars blueliners are 30th out of 30 in team defense so far on this season.  They’ve allowed 23 goals in 5 games (through Sunday), which is a goals against average of 4.00 if you’re keeping track of such things.  They’ve surrendered 123 shots (there are 6 teams who have given up more), but have only stopped 100 of them.  That means Dallas netminding has a 0.813 save percentage.  81% folks.  1 out of every 5 shots on a Dallas goal is going in.

Dallas started a three-game road trip against the New York-area teams on Monday (the Rangers, Devils and Islanders) and beat the Rangers 2-1.  Dallas got goals by Brendan Morrow and Mike Modano that were much needed and extremely welcomed.  Seeing the leadership of this team step up and lead the scoring is great for the offensive side of things.  And the defense?  They allowed just one goal on 29 shots.  That’s a .965 save percentage – 97%.  Maybe this is the new attitude of the Stars’ defense and they’ve ironed out the wrinkles.  But, maybe it’s not.  Maybe it’s a situation the Stars need to address.

So how does Dallas address this situation?  What do you do if you’re in Coach Dave Tippett’s shoes?  Or Brett Hull’s?  Or Les Jackson’s?  Do you push the button on an early trade to shake up the chemistry and let people know that if they don’t do their job, they’re on their way out?  Do you change up the defensive pairings and let players work with a new defensive partner for a while?  Do you show some patience and let the “kinks” work out of this defensive machine?  What’s the fix?

I have a suggestion, modest though it may be.  It’s an approach that can’t hurt – it can only help.  Work on the communication!  The thing that has been most apparent on ice through the first 5 games is that the six men on ice haven’t been on the same page all that often.  Whether they’re working better together now or not, there’s no way that some team exercised couldn’t improve the way things go on ice.

The Stars get back into town after the trip to The Big Apple this coming Friday the 24th.  They have a game on the 25th at the AAC against the Washington Capitals and another on 29th against the Minnesota Wild before leaving for a five-game trip on Halloween.

During that stretch, maybe the Stars D-squad should get together off the ice and do some team-building, stress-relieving-type activities.  Shoot each other with paintballs…challenge one another to rock climbing competitions…anything where you rely on a teammate and talk to one another, which hasn’t been happening during games.

Dallas Stars Training Camp 2008

It’s hard to believe it’s hockey season again already, but the Dallas Stars will kick off their 2008-2009 campaign on September 19th, as training camp opens at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Frisco.  The first full day on the ice will be the following day, Saturday, and all training camp practices will be open to the public.

Of course, this will be Stars fans first chance to check-out new Star Sean Avery.  Avery is one of those players you hate when they’re on the other team, but love when they’re on your roster.  And, he brings back some of the same grit and attitude the ’99 Stanley Cup winning team had in players like Derian Hatcher, Richard Matvichuk and the “Little Ball of Hate”, Pat Verbeek.  He’s also shown he knows how to bury the puck, scoring 15 goals twice in the last three seasons.

Many fans will also be eager to see some of the new, young faces that have been impressing scouts around the league at the 2008 NHL Prospects Tournament which has been going on this week in Traverse City, MI.  The Stars finished tournament play with a 3-0-0 record, and will be facing the Atlanta Thrashers Prospects (also 3-0-0) in the championship game on September 17th at 5:30 PM CDT.

One of the most heralded young Stars that fans will be looking to see on the ice is Fabian Brunnstrom.  The 23-year old played in the Swedish Elite League last year, and is looking to return to the form that allowed him to net 38 goals and amass 79 points in just 49 games playing for Boras HC.  While the Swedish Elite League may still lack the skill you’ll find at the NHL level, it’s more than comparable to the talent at the major junior and even AHL levels, and Brunnstrom shows that he is ready to take the next step.

James Neal, the Stars 2nd round pick in 2005, had 3 goals and 3 assists for the Stars Prospects this year in the tournament, and has proven he can play well on the penalty kill.  Neal will most likely start the year in the AHL, but if he continues the strong play he’s shown thus far, he might be a callup sometime this season.

Another young standout that will be fun to watch is Jamie Benn. Last season with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL (a junior league), Benn scored 33 goals and 32 assists (65 points) in 51 games, and had 11 points in 7 playoff games.  He also turned heads in Traverse City.  With just 50 seconds left in the game against the Columbus Blue Jacket Prospects on Sunday, Benn scored the game-winning goal.

This year is shaping up to be a very interesting and promising one, and fans will want to keep their eyes on these rising Stars.

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