Yep, that’s right bitches. We got Razor! Enjoy.
Let’s start with what everyone wants to know: How have Sharp and Oduya fit in down there?
– They’ve been exactly what they were imported to be. Patrick has been almost exclusively a right winger (till the last few games) so he’s been forced to adjust from his most comfy side and has bounced around from line mate to line mate, but through it all his 2-way game and championship calm has helped immensely. In addition, he’s been a smart, accommodating voice from inside the room for our media and a real asset on an improved PP. Oduya has brought that same champion pedigree to the team. Watching him go about his business I find it hard to believe your ‘Captain Serious’ is a more focused dude than this guy. Wow! 100% bidnass! As you might imagine he’s been a good penalty killer/shot blocker (but he’s only one guy…Stars PK is 21st) and he has formed a nice stable 2nd pair on D with Demers. Both have made the Stars internal community more professional.
The Stars goalie situation threatens to upend a very promising season. Neither Niemi or Lehtonen is close to even a league average save-percentage. How will this shake out? They wouldn’t go get a third goalie, would they?
– The goaltending was a strength for 3 months with the two rotating and winning but lately they’ve become a tad leaky. There’s no doubt they’d like to establish a clear #1 in prep for playoffs and Niemi seems to be the guy you’d bet on, but for going on a month now both guys have had their effulgent moments but neither has been a consistent savior. The individual stats can be a bit unfair because this team serves up some saccharine scoring chances for opposing shooters as a bi-product of their aggressive attacking high-event style of play.
It’s been a breakout year for John Klingberg, who could be in line for a Norris nomination. What have you noticed most about his game this year?
– John’s an incredible talent, and opposing team’s are treating him as such (He’s taken a pounding). There have been pockets of poor play as he adjusts to the grind of a North American schedule, but for the most part he has been a puck moving wunderkind and an overtime dagger chucker.
He’s the translucent skinned Prince of Percipience…
The disc dangling Duke of Distribution…
The…(ya ya ya, you’re right, enough, I’ll stop)
What will the Stars be looking to do at the deadline at the end of the month?
To be honest, probably not much.
Jim Nill is a very patient and astute man. He likes the youthful depth of this organization and doesn’t seem interested in draining that for a ‘rental’. Now, if someone super-enticing becomes available, and he/it fits the long range plan…maybe. A paradigm shifting defenseman would likely be the big target. (I’m sure the Stars are the only team in the market for one of those)
Valeri NIchushkin missed basically all of last year and hasn’t recovered the very promising look of ’13-’14. Will he get back there?
– I think he will. I see some pre-30 goal Loui Ericksson in him. Nichushkin – as fuzzy faced Eriksson was – is an 80 percenter right now. That other 20% is learning how to be harder at the opposing net and finish off scoring chances. The lightbulb eventually came on for Loui and it’s gonna flick on some day for Val too.
It feels like the Stars have been waiting on Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth for a while on the blue line. How much longer?
– Good question.
The Stars have a deep group of Dman prospects I liken to a flock of baby ducks. Indulge me here; Duck hens are notoriously bad mothers (Don’t misconstrue this, Nill is not a mother duck) and every day in the early summer at the lake house the head count of ducklings dwindles. It starts at about 8-10 but only 3 or 4 survive to grow into adulthood. Blame Darwinism. And with that in mind, the strongest of the 6 or 7 young Stars defenseman will ultimately survive and thrive in Big D. There you go, the duck mortality analogy you never knew you needed, or existed!
Where does this Stars season end? Surely it’s about more than just making the playoffs now. Will their goaltending be the undoing? Can the blue line hold up in the playoffs?
– They wanted to have a really good start, be better on home ice, and be more competitive vs the other Central division teams. Done. Done. Done. So now being in the Stanley Cup tournament is all but assured. What happens in the playoffs is anybody’s guess, but if defense wins…well, they’ll just have to acquire an acute case of amnesia and ignore their 20th ranked GAA and 21st ranked PK.