It sounds really strange to say this, considering that it has not even been a full calendar month since the NHL season began, but for teams like the Dallas Stars that have already played 12 games, they have finished one quarter of their 2013 season.
How do the Stars look at the quarter mark of the season? Well, it’s not terrible and there are certainly teams that are doing much worse. The 6-5-1 record they’ve put up so far is good for third in the Pacific Division and eighth in the Western Conference. The problem with the Pacific is that it’s so strong this season, between the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, that everyone else seems to pale in comparison slightly.
The Stars have gone streaking twice, once in a bad way–a four-game losing streak–and once in a good way with three wins in a row right now. There have been a lot of absences on the team for different reasons: Jamie Benn, Derek Roy and Ray Whitney have either been away or are still away, but the team has just tried to roll with the punches and adapt. Brenden Morrow has found himself playing with legendary Jaromir Jagr while Whitney is absent. The Stars actually have a lot of young guys in their lineup, too: guys like Jagr and Whitney may be on one end of the bell curve, but then there are quite a few teammates whose birthdays are in the 1990s or very late 1980s.
That workhorse goalie Kari Lehtonen has been the Stars’ hot hand, boasting a 6-2-1 record and having made some of the most jaw-dropping, “how did he manage to do that?” saves so far in this young season. Like I’ve said before, expect the team to keep using him for the vast majority of their games unless he is injured.
The Stars also made some personnel changes in the front office, bringing in two former Stars greats, Mike Modano and Marty Turco, to serve as an executive adviser and broadcast analyst, respectively. Mark Recchi, another long-tenured player but one who never played in the Stars organization, is also on board with hockey operations. He’s friends with team owner Tom Gaglardi.
The general feeling in Dallas’ room is positive. Everyone’s enjoying the momentum, especially as of late, and hoping that they can keep building on it and doing well in the rest of the season. Considering that the team often seems to fall just short of the playoffs very late in the season–losing on the last day of the 2011 season was all it took for them to miss the postseason–they need to make sure that’s not going to be an issue this year.