Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.
You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.
Added: Lindy Ruff, Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Shawn Horcoff, Sergei Gonchar, Dan Ellis
Subtracted: Glen Gulutzan, Loui Eriksson, Eric Nystrom, Philip Larsen, Richard Bachman
The Stars are going to be good
This team easily took the biggest stride in the off-season. They added intelligent disciplinarian Lindy Ruff as their bench boss to take control of a group with a ton of potential. All the sudden they’re loaded down the middle, which is a big change. They traded for budding superstar Tyler Seguin, who is on the verge of a huge year. They got him just in time to suck the maximum value out of him after Boston spent a few years teaching him to play all 200 feet. They just named Jamie Benn their new captain, a huge body with a massive shot who’s nearly impossible to contain. They added Shawn Horcoff to their list of underrated players to go along with their other new centerman, Rich Peverly. They’ve got proven offensive talent in Ray Whitey and Erik Cole to go along with one of the Calder Trophy front-runners in Valeri Nichushkin. That kid is going to be a legit star in this league, and immediately makes them better. And man-child Cody Eakin is just about to become a household name.
All that talent plays in front of one of the league’s best goalies in Kari Lehtonen, who has the luxury of playing behind breakout experts Sergei Gonchar and Alex Goligoski. That kind of skill means less turnovers, less time in your own zone. This team has a flashy new set of duds, a new attitude, and the talent to change the balance of power in the West.
The Stars are going to be bad
Man, that was some creative maneuvering to avoid mentioning that their d-corps is an actual trainwreck, wasn’t it? Like, a train-on-train collision in the middle of a busy town square capital Trainwreck. Neither Goligoski nor the ancient Gonchar can play a lick of defense, so for that they’ll turn to names like Dillon, Rome, Daley, and Robidas. Those guys couldn’t shut down a laptop. Lehtonen is injury prone and Dan Ellis is the backup (I know, he keeps getting jobs). Their depth up front is a wading pool. Chiasson, MacDermid, Roussel, Garbutt, and so on. This team missed playoffs by seven points in a shortened season, traded away their most reliable player in Loui Eriksson, and added near-bust Seguin and a couple old guys. PLAYOFFS, HERE WE COME.
Flippant barstool prediction
This looks like a team poised for a first round playoff elimination (and that’s a compliment).
The Dallas Stars stats directly reflect opinions of old about them (outside of Dallas): generic, vanilla, beige. 11-11-2 at home, 11-11-2 on the road, .500. Not good, not bad, just there. They were the computer in a video game. 17th in 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio, 17th in penalty killing, 18th on the powerplay, 11th in goals for per game….just…yeah, okay, fine, whatever. The numbers that fell out of that realm generally fell on the bad side. They gave up 2.94 goals a night (24th), likely because they gave up 31 shots on average (22nd). Worst of all, they only generated 26.3 shots a night, which was 29th overall.
Okay, but seriously:
I actually like a lot of their forwards – I don’t think guys like Cole/Whitney are useless yet, and they’ll need them not to be for support scoring. I like Seguin, I like Benn, I like their young guys. But I’m really worried about that d-corps. Basically, I think they’ll need Lehtonen to be a stud cause he’s gonna see a lot of scoring chances. Good news is, he’s a quality tender. They need their young d-men (Benn, Dillon) to take a step to be more than a fringe playoff team.
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