Another preseason game, and just another solid win for the Dallas Stars. The boys shut down the St. Louis Blues today, beating the home team 4-0 and ending the preseason with their best record since moving to Dallas. Does this mean anything? Not really. But what it did do was show us a good glimpse of what this team could do this season.
While I don’t expect them to win over 80% of their games this season, it does show that Dallas could definitely fight for a playoff spot. Andrew Raycroft finished up the preseason by stopping 33 shots today and 59 out of 64. He could be a bigger factor then most are willing to admit. While Kari Lehtonen had a great season last year and already looks solid this year, the Stars are probably not wanting to lean on him so heavily like they did after the trade deadline last season. If Raycroft can give the team solid minutes and they believe they can win with him in the crease, it could let them “save” Kari and leave him not looking so drained the last month of the year. Veteran additions Michael Ryder and Vernon Fiddler have already started to fit into the new system, and both produced points and highlight moments in the preseason when they played. Ryder and Ribeiro already have found chemistry together and I can’t wait to see those two and Morrow on one line come opening night.
But what the fanbase should take from this preseason are the top-notch efforts we have seen (or heard in some cases) from the young guys pushing for roster spots. I said early this last week that Tomas Vincour deserves a roster spot, and he has continued to prove it since then. In the three games this week, he went a +1 on each and scored a goal in two. He continues to show that the potential we saw last year in his time up with the big club is still there and that he is getting better every time he gets a chance to show it. Young puck-moving defenseman Philip Larsen has shown that a full year in the AHL last year helped he accommodate to the North American game, and he contributed an assist again today. While he should be sent down to Austin just because the Stars already have seven NHL Dmen, Larsen has proved that he should be the first call-up this year and could be ready for a full year in the NHL next season. Francis Wathier and Colton Sceviour both contributed offensively during the preseason and showed that they might be ready for more NHL time as well. While both will probably see more of a defensive/grinder role if they do make it to the NHL, it is good to see that both are improving and want to fight for a spot.
In the end, the preseason does not mean anything in the standings once the season starts. The Stars don’t get extra points or a head-start. But the team did out-score opponents 29-14, received solid goaltending efforts, and watched as quite a few young guys played excellent when given minutes. At the end of the preseason, the Stars should have at least put some optimism into the eyes of the fanbase.