Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

By Chris Bates

           The Dallas Stars head into tonight’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes as the 2nd best team in the Western Conference through the first 16 games.  What has been really impressive is how the Stars have done it.  Young players like Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder along with veterans Brenden Morrow and Steve Ott, the Stars post an 11-5 record with 22 points so far this season.  Benn has been the Stars’ MVP this season as he leads the team in points with 19 (goals and assists).   Dallas has shown the ability to put the puck in the net this season, something they had a hard time doing last season.      Click Here to see the Stars’ Quest for the Cup (I don not own the rights to this video).

Matchup vs. Phoenix

    The Stars come into tonight’s game leading the Coyotes by 3 points in the standings and although it is still early, every game you play counts, especially division games.  Dallas has been excellent at home (6-1) and Phoenix has one of the best road records in the NHL (4-1-1).   The keys to the game are which goalie can minimize the damage both offenses possess.    Dallas is averaging 3 goals per game while the Coyotes are giving up about 2 and a half goals a game.  If Dallas can reach the 3 goal plateau again tonight, they will be in good shape to pick up their 12th win of the season and gain 3 more points in the standings.  Phoenix must contain Loui Erikkson, who leads the Stars in goals with 9 through the first 16 games. 

     The way the Stars are playing right now reminds me of their championship years with Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour and company.  It is been a long time since the Stars were a relevant legitimate championship contending team but if theses young guys continue winning and learning how to win,  then the sky is the limit.  The Stars have enough veteran players to mentor these young guys on how to close out games, how to play 3 periods and not 2 and half.  The last 2 seasons, I thought the Stars underachieved.  They had plenty of talent both of those years, but they didn’t play 3 periods.  So many late leads got away from Dallas costing them a chance at the playoffs.  2008 was the Stars’ deepest season recently reaching the Western Conference Finals before eventually falling to the rival Detroit Red Wings.

Prediction

    The Stars get back on track tonight after falling to the Red Wings on Friday.  I see a 2-1 final score to widen their lead in the Pacific division.  With a victory tonight, Dallas regains confidence heading into their next game vs. the Colorado Avalanche.  I believe the Stars will have a magical season this year with their mix of young and old talent to go along with their talented goalie, Kari Lehtonen.

Final season prediction: Pacific Division Champs and a berth in the Western Conference Finals where I think they come up just a bit short against the Chicago Blackhawks.