Dallas Stars

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.

Click here for the previews you may have missed.

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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 numbers:

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.

Your NHL.com preview:

You can check that out here.

Comments (19)

  1. This isn’t a playoff team.

  2. I think this is a playoff team.

  3. I’m waiting heart in mouth for my Nucks to be regularly annihilated by Nichuchkin and Connagton

  4. “They were the computer in a video game.”

    This line killed me. Though you should have added “on medium in a game of Contra”.

    I feel like I should stick up for my hometeam though when you put Chiasson up there with MacDermid, and Garbutt. Chiasson put up 6 goals and 7 points in 7 games for his NHL debut last year, and even though this is laughably not sustainable, he has continued putting up points in the preseason.

    Oleksiak and Connauton may prove to be solid additions to the blue line as well. I think this team finally breaks into the playoffs this year not because they’ve gotten that much better, but because they have an easier schedule on paper (not that a team like Dallas should ever take for granted being the same division as Nashville, Winnipeg, and Colorado) while getting marginally better. The first line of Benn/Seguin/Cole have found chemistry right away whereas last year no line had chemistry thanks to the constant line shuffling (and having Eric Nystrom play on the first line for stretches- that’s how bad it got).

    This is all glass filled to the brim thinking, but I think their top three lines are fairly solid, and the Defense is just mediocre enough (Dillon and Robidas is a reasonable shutdown pair as long as Dillon proves last year was no fluke) in front of a solid netminder to take games from lesser teams like stealing the odd one from better ones. Playoffs? Sure. First round exit? Absolutely.

    Or so I hope.

  5. Those are not their normal jersey’s are they? Please tell me those are a St. Paddy’s Day one off.

  6. This is a pretty fair assessment. I agree with your barstool opinion. Not many people picked the Islanders to make the playoffs last year, but the youth came together for them. I think the same thing is going to happen in Dallas this year.

    The D does look weak, but Lehtonen is fantastic. I think he might be a top 10 goaltender, but he’s definitely a top 16 goalie.

    Also, you kind of mentioned Dillon in the “Stars are going to be bad” section, but he probably had the second most impressive rookie year for defensive defensemen after Brodin. Hopefully he doesn’t have a sophomore slump. Gonchar hopefully won’t be used in a defensive capacity, I think he’s here to help the power play.

    I think the most underrated move this offseason is bringing in Ruff. Gulutzan was clearly over his head as an NHL head coach. Ruff should bring respect, if nothing else, but hopefully he also brings a clear defensive system. Plus, Babcock has Ruff as an assistant/associate coach for the Olympics again, so he obviously sees something positive in him and I’d trust Babcock’s opinion on hockey things.

  7. Gonch may also be there for the Russian rookie like he was for Malkin when he came over

  8. They have a better shot at the playoffs than you’d think, but I have a feeling they’re going to be the first ever victim of the crossover. They’re not as good as whomever is going to finish fifth in the Pacific.

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