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As everyone knows by now, the Stars have picked up the new ex-goaltender of Atlanta for Ivan Vishnevski and a 4th round draft pick in return.

The question on everyone’s mind is what this means going forward.  For one, I can’t see them keeping three goaltenders on staff – 2 number 1’s and a backup is too much for any team.  There are a few teams doing it now but none of their goalies can be called a true number 1 and so they are forced to make due.  Now, I could be totally wrong and Joe may just really want three goaltenders.

So assuming I’m right and they are intending to unload a goalie, such as Turco then what is going to happen?  Well I personally can’t get the Souray trade rumors out of my head.   The question is do the Oilers want to pick up someone like Turco while Khabibulin recovers from his surgery that will keep him out for a large part of the season.  Probably not, honestly.  The only way we would be picking up Souray would be by other means,  such as cheap forwards to a team who is strapped for cash due to forwards that they dumped a huge amount of money in in 06 and then they stopped performing for them.  So whatever they do it has to be something that is cost-effective.  This means maybe someone like Brunnstrom.  He’s the shoe-in in all of my scenarios because he has up-side and he’s not a huge part of the team.  Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be worthy of a guy like Souray, further more that means we’d have to give up someone from our youth pool, like Benn (or Wandell if they are looking to next year, which the Oilers SHOULD be doing) then of course someone to fill that defense void which would equate to a Niskanen/Daley/Woywitka.  I can’t see them giving up Robidas or Fistric, but I see the others as fair game at this point and with them losing an offensive blue-liner then it would probably be Niskanen or Daley.

This is all speculation of course, I’m sure in the next 10 days or so they will make some mind blowing trade (this could be in the good or bad way…) that has nothing to do with anything I’ve ever imagined.

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According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, defenseman Sheldon Souray has supplied Oilers GM Steve Tambellini with a list of at least six teams he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join.

On this list are Anaheim, Dallas and Los Angeles in the West and Washington, Philadelphia and the Rangers in the East.

Souray is sidelined indefinitely with a broken hand he suffered in a fight with Jarome Iginla Jan. 30, but it is believed he intends to return to the ice prior to the end of the regular season.

The report suggests team sources say that it’s doubtful a deal for Souray could be worked out prior to the Feb. 12th roster freeze.

So there’s a topic on the Dallas Stars forums about the rumor of interest for goaltender Halak as Turco’s contract year comes closer to it’s end.  The question of whether he will be resigned comes up, and then of course the fingers are pointed at who’s really to blame for the lack luster season the Stars have been  having.  I started to write my own reply but as I wrote it turned into more so I decided I would instead make it a blog entry, something I haven’t done much of as of late.  So I hope it’s enjoyed!

If you actually watch the games then you know that only half of the goals that go in are due to the weakness in the Defense.  I cringe at least once or twice a night at goals that Turco lets in because they just simply shouldn’t be going in.  And we can sit around and debate whether it’s the “chicken or the egg” or we can call it like you should probably be seeing it.

I haven’t missed a game all season and I have yet to be impressed by Turco.  The games he plays half-way decent in are usually the ones we win, the games he forgets he’s the goaltender all together are the games we lose.  Note that there isn’t a “The games he plays amazing in” category.  And every successful team has a goaltender that pulls one of those out of their back end every once in a while.  Even teams that are soft in the position and still winning like Chicago – Huet  is a mediocre goalie at best and can be as leaky as they come but even he stands on his head from time to time to steal a win.

When was the last time you saw Turco steal a win?  In those “This was a goalie duel” games – how many times did Turco win and how many times did we here “They just couldn’t score enough goals”.

Clearly its a glass half full situation for a lot of the fans.  I’m not saying he isn’t a decent goalie, I’m saying he’s most certainly not playing like one.  If we’re basing our judgment on the last month or so, we can put a ton of blame on the team as a whole.  But if we’re putting this season as a whole on the chopping block then the head we cleave is going to be Turco.  I think most people can remember saying, “Why don’t they just play Auld again…” to ourselves in the first part of the season a fair share.

Robidas, Grossman and Fistric have all played great in my opinion.  Considering Robi and Grossman are out against the top lines night in and night out and with Turco not doing much to fight their cause they are still putting up pretty decent numbers for a team that’s struggling to win.

I think you can split the blame between two things myself;  goaltending and identity.

From night to night I don’t know who’s going to be playing and that can’t be good for a locker room who has no voice to begin with.  If I’m the coaching staff I’m looking for a way to clean up the roster which is obliterated by bad management decisions from this year and last year that are colliding with one another now.  We have wingers with no place to go, we have call ups even though we have plenty of players with one way contracts.  We have a cupboard full of third pair defenseman.  I then try to shake up the leadership on the team a bit.  How do I do all of this in this world where dreams come true and they put chubby Texans with a sense of self-importance, a moderate vocabulary and a big mouth?

First off, the leadership is all the same.  You take a look at every guy out there with an A and they are all the same mold.  They all “lead with their play”.  That simply doesn’t cut it.  I respect Robidas, Richards, Morrow and Modano as much as anyone else in the league, but at the end of the day if they are all hoping that people are going to follow their lead (even if it’s a questionable lead to begin with) its not going to dig a team out of a hole.  Morrow cares more about the Olympics than he does about the Stars right now, sadly.  But I think he’s the one who certainly keeps his letter.  I take Modano’s A away and I put it back on Ott’s deserving chest.  If anyone on the team has the mouth and the balls to speak up in the locker room, it’s him.  He’s on a contract year himself and I think if he’s given the chance to prove he can be a legitimate leader on the team then he will seal his contract up with a nice pay check and possibly close the argument of “What is Ott to the team?”  Modano played just long enough to show he’s still “got it” for the Olympic committees and then when his name wasn’t on the list you can clearly see that jump that was back in his step as he flew around the ice checking people and stealing pucks simply isn’t there now.  Sadly, I’m not surprised and saw it coming.  Richards is your best player skill-wise, you are almost required to give him an A in the NHL. Robidas is the heart and soul of your team and even when Morrow is playing like a child, Modano is non-existent and Richards is busy getting shut down by the other teams top line, he’s still having a great game.  How can you not leave the A on his chest?

So do I think that the only change in leadership as far as letters go should be from Mo to Otter?  No, I think you take it off of Richards and give it to Petersen and you take it from Robi and give it to the brand spankin’ new star Defensemen you just signed, and honestly if I didn’t love and respect Morrow so much thus making myself Bias, I take that C off of his chest and give it to Robidas to replace his lost A – because frankly he’s the only guy who’s playing well enough for others to follow when he “leads by example”.

All that said, how does one clean up the roster?   Who really knows, the contracts are a maze of “do what?”  I think the last thing they did that I agreed with was when they signed Sutherby to an extension after last season and he doesn’t even get the ice time he deserves now.

But are these problems the entire problem of identity?  Can I limit the idea of a team’s identity to who has a letter on their chest and a terrible issue with wasting space with personnel?  Of course not.  At the end of the day this is a team with a brand new coach and a system that basically redefines what the Stars have been since their INCEPTION.  This is a bigger deal than most people made it out to be.  Very few teams can go from one thing to the total opposite side of the spectrum and be successful over the course of a single season.  The only way you can do this is if your team already has the components in place to do that, and I don’t think Dallas did.  They thrived in Tippets system.  It was a system that was defense first, which covered up Marty’s flaws with just enough talent on the top 6 to score enough to win.  Last season I think we all seem to forget that they were actually in the playoff race until the very end of the season and that was with a huge chunk of their offensive talent out for a majority of the season.  Then you take this team that seemed to thrive in that system and expect them to do the same in an offense first system without changing any key components of the roster.  Doesn’t seem logical, but I assume it was what they had to do given Hick’s inability to spend cash.

And really that’s what it comes down to.  You have a new GM, a new coach, a new system and an owner who won’t spend anywhere near the cap during a time when you would expect to HAVE to do so to get things going in the right direction under a new regime.

So you put all of these problems together and then everyone is still disgruntled to find out that the Stars are struggling to stay close to the 8th place cut-off mark.  Really?  Were you really surprised?  The stars (pun intended) aligned for anything from terrible to mediocre this season.

I hate to talk about the off season when we are barely halfway through this season, but it seems to be more relevant now than it has been before.  If Hicks makes the decision to go forward with this “master plan” of the Joe+Crow system.  You see the spending bumped up, you see the garbage taken out, you see a #1 defensemen hired, you see Turco walk, you see a moderately talented goalie come in who may not be as talented but will be more consistent come into replace him (though I don’t think they are smart enough to do that, I think they will either let Auld try it out or pull one of their AHL’ers up early), you see some of the potential forward talent go out for trades for some new more “premanent” defensemen.  Brunnstrom’s gone, Niskanen or Vishnevski are gone, then you have players like Benn and Wandell who are really showing they can be top 6 talent who could be popular trade bait for whatever the management says they need to be a contender again.

And so I’ve droned on far longer than I intended… I think I’ll end it there.

Considering the hockey gods have me working through tonight’s game in it’s entirety, I will post something up now.

Biggest news for tonight?  Richards is out, resting a groin injury.  Don’t expect him to be out more than a couple weeks after last year, he’s been playing through it this season and decided to rest it for a while.  This means that the weight of being the top line has officially shifted to Ribeiro/Morrow/Benn.  When you have a second line that was effectively our first line the last two seasons, then you don’t really have anything to panic about.  Considering the Richards line was shored up by the arrival of Neal, they will shift down and become an above average 2nd line with Eriksson and Neal on the wings and the new kid in the center.  We can talk about the injury bug and whether or not it’s coming back for the sequel this season or not in another blog.

Look for the Stars to control the tempo.  The Kings got off to a solid start but are back to their struggling selves.  If there’s one thing we can say about the Stars it’s that the rivalries of last season aren’t really much to worry about.  The nights where somehow the Kings beat the Stars over and over again, are probably over in this new high octane system.  Expect either a close one if they don’t show up to play/the Kings come with their A+ game that we saw in the first few games from them – or a blow out if they play like they have been and the Stars play like we know they can.

Coming off of the (surprising) win in Chicago this is the perfect setup to gain momentum.  Take down a struggling team, send their losing streak to 4 – get our first two in a row – take the momentum and lay down death and destruction on the rest of the road trip.  Then let Richards come back and continue on with some solid stats.

The easiest thing to do is to look at tonight’s game and think of it as just another reason to doubt the Stars this season.  But, with the help of a bad bounce (Robi) and a mediocre goalie (Petersen), they won.  They even put up two solid goals.  This means that even when they are doing nothing right, they have the skill to score against a team that could easily be called the best in the league, despite the Ranger’s current streak.

Now, in a perfect world they will take this much needed luck and build on it.  They will understand that they can win and if they try they will win.  They will watch tape and realize that they did basically everything wrong again, but they have enough skill to still at least put points up.  With the help of a terrible bounce (Robidas’ goal) and a mediocre goalie (Petersen goal) they won.  So they will take this as a boost of confidence and then get back on the Crawford horse which they seemed to step off of for the length of the Boston and Chicago games.

So, lets hope they go over the tape, man up and start skating.

Oh… and start Auld… forever…

After making my morning rounds over my favorite blogs and other Dallas Stars sources, the common theme is … “AHHHHHH!”

As I’ve said – there is definitely one good thing about Crawford’s system.  It’s all speed and workmanship-based.  You work hard and skate hard and the system will work.  You don’t do one or both and it falls on it’s face and you lose games 3-0.  So when you do lose you can tell easily whether it’s because you were outmatched or simply because your players didn’t show up to play.  I can honestly say that it was the second last night as the Bruins came into town and showed the Stars how to be dedicated to victory.

The message I’m trying to get across today is that panicking isn’t necessary at this point.  Certainly, ranting about the team not being a top 8 team after 6 games isn’t necessary either.

I recommend letting the Stars play out the next 5 or so games before we all start preparing for the apocalypse.  Try to take the Chicago game with a grain of salt, then start paying attention.  Chicago has a way of making the Stars look like amateurs even on their good days, after all.  Once we get that out of the way, start analyzing and either relaxing/combusting accordingly.

That’s all for now.

Ah, the state of things.  If you look at the stats on paper you may be confused as to what exactly is happening on the ice.  With a record of 2-0-3, nobody would blame you.  Then add the tidbit that all of those overtime losses were met in the shoot-out and you might even be flabbergasted.

So, what really is going on on the ice for the Stars?  Well, they are dominating the opposition.  Whether it’s the Canadian teams or Nashville, they have really shown their superiority in 5-on-5 hockey.  Due to soft-goaltending and an abysmal penalty kill they have come out with a moderate, but less-than-special ratio.  The good news is they can’t lose forever, in fact they have already defied the law of averages plenty of times this season.  So when Nashville came back into town for Preds vs. Stars in Dallas: Reloaded – it was almost fate that the Stars took them apart like the rapture on ice (which is a lot like Disney on Ice but filled with anger and defensive breakdowns).

They came out and scored 3 goals in the first 6 minutes, effectively running Dan Ellis out of his net.  Rinne faired better, but still allowed two more goals by the time it was over.  Turco was solid when he had to be, which times mostly consisted if in tight break downs to which he stacked pads and other Turco-type things.  It’s not that they beat a team who is coming off of a 6-1 loss the previous game and on a downward spiral.  It’s that they proved to themselves that the system they have been learning in the off-season and the early stages in the real-time is working.  You can out-play your opponents all season long, but until there are clear-cut results are aren’t completely going to buy into this system.  A 6-0 victory is what every player on that bench needed, in order to move forward with Crawford and his schemes and continue what will hopefully come out to “success”.

Want to feel good inside?  Go check out the standings.  Yes, they mean almost nothing this early on.  But, you can’t help but feel reassured as the Stars sit in 6th place in the conference and second in the division.  Now go check out the league leaders.  Grossman in first place for +/- with his d-partner Robidas in close second.  How refreshing is that to see?  A seemingly legitimate top pair.  The only question is if Robidas can play like this for 82 games, he seemed to be wearing down near the end last year.  At least he got the manditory puck to the face out of the way early this year.

So, maybe we were all a bit wrong when we vomited at the news of Crawford’s hire.  Maybe the picking up of Woywitka and Skrastins wasn’t as pointless as we thought.  Maybe the Stars can make this work…  All I know is that Morrow, Richards and Eriksson have me sitting comfortably in first place in my fantasy hockey league.  Thanks guys.