Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What to think of this NHL Season - Stars Edition

So, I've been watching the NHL for a while. About 14 years pretty steady (you know, except for the years where they weren't playing). I feel like I understand and can generally pick how seasons are going to go for a franchise. In summary, I consider myself an NHL guy. So, what the heck do I make of this season? It's pretty wheels-off, that's what. Every time you think you know something, you find out you don't know it.

Let's start with the Stars. Actually, I'll just focus on them. The rest of the NHL will have to wait. Before the season, I pretty much guessed them to be a middle of the pack playoff team that was probably on it's way down. Then, when the season started and Modano looked like the pressure of the record was getting to him, I thought... uh oh, the Stars may not make the playoffs this year. Apparently Tom Hicks agreed and fired Doug Armstrong. And hired Brett Hull as interim co-general manager (seriously... what kind of title is that???) Then Mike breaks the record and realizes that he can score again and the Stars go on a winning streak. Except instead of being anchored by their franchise goalie, they are led by Mike Smith, a goalie who I thought was as generic as his name. I've been trying to figure out what to write about this team, but every time I started to write, the story changed. Now, the Stars are in first place in the Pacific Division (where I thought they might be third best), and near the top of most "Power Rankings". But will they stay there?

Um.. no, I don't think so. I hope they prove me wrong because I love this team and always want them to do well, but here are the issues:
1. Unsteady play from Turco. Turco has been the rock of this team for so long that not having him there has cause them to play over their heads for a while. I think this is a trend that won't continue.
2. Scoring. Or lack there of. They are getting more balanced scoring, but no one is charging ahead. This can be good or bad, but not knowing who to rely on scoring wise is different. (who knows, it worked for Buffalo last year).
3. Lehtinen's injury. Modano is awesome, and I really enjoy Morrow's game, but if I were going to be reincarnated as any hockey player in the world, it would be Jere Lehtinen. (No, I don't believe in reincarnation, but anyway...). His injury (a sports hernia) is not an easy one to recover from, and if I remember right, it's not his first. These things can linger, and for a player who is known for his tenacious defense and timely scoring, losing him is huge.
So, where will the Stars end up? Well, I'd love to see them end where they are now, but I think this is short-lived and would be surprised if a downturn doesn't happen.

Also, Brett... Where is the scoring? I figured the first thing Hull would do as GM-ish would be to bring some scoring in here. I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.

Btw, don't think this isn't a intended reverse jinx thing happening.. :)


rus said...

Thanks for posting this. I understand what you're saying about the story constantly changing. I was listening to the local sports talk radio guys talking about the Predators and they made the comment that all the teams in the West are winning alot right now.
I tend to agree that the Stars are a middle of the road team. Mostly I get this from Bob Sturm. It's unfortunate that for some reason the Avs and Red Wings always seem to have young players coming up to step right in, while the Stars never have anyone that great. I think a management change was definitly needed.

Chris said...

I basically agree that the Stars are playing over their heads right now. I'm not worried about Turco, but I think their anemic offense will be their undoing.