Pesky: Adjective: Causing trouble; annoying. See-Dallas Stars, Stars 2011-2012 season. There is little doubt that “pesky” encompasses everything involoving the Stars this year. New head coach, Glen Gulutzan, has this team playing sixty minutes every night. Their penalties are way down and the goal differential is down to -6. Yet, just when they play good enough to get two points, we’re reminded that they’re just not quite there yet.
Currently sitting in tenth place in the log-jam known as the western conference, Dallas now finds themselves in third in the Pacific. However, they’re only two points out of that coveted eighth spot, held currently by last year’s season killer, Minnesota Wild. Just when things looked to be righting themselves after a convincing win against defending Stanley Cup champion, Boston Bruins, the injury bug has returned to its familiar home in the Stars’ room. Center Mike Ribeiro just started finding his touch when he took a vicious puck shot to the mouth. Full cage and minus a few teeth, Ribs found his way back out on the ice and finished the game against Nashville Predators. The following game against the Edmonton Oilers, he took a hit to the knee and now is on the IR with a partially torn MCL. Days after being named to his first all-star game, Jamie Benn had an appendectomy.
When you take in consideration the time defensemen Alex Goligoski and Sheldon Souray along with goalie Kari Lehtonen have missed, this year is starting to take shape similar to last season. The positive is this team is pesky. This team doesn’t have just one “superstar,” as they did in Brad Richards last year. There are many cogs to Gulutzan’s system. Perhaps this is the wrong mentality going into this season, but expectations have to be low. Sure, they barely missed the playoffs last year, but this team is so young. Their coach has never been in the NHL and is learning on the fly. The combined age of their two stars, Benn and Loui Eriksson, barely add up to the number on the back of Souray’s jersey. But don’t tell them that. I choose to look at the positive with this team. They’re settling into their roles on this team. The injuries have afforded much of the young talent down with the Texas Stars to see some ice time with the big team. This season is nowhere near over. It is only going to get harder when even the healthy guys start dealing with nagging injuries. The good teams are going to get better as trades/moves are made to solidify playoff positioning and the middle-of-the-pack teams find another gear to get into the top eight. But mark my words, the Stars will cause trouble and they will be annoying. The road to the Stanley Cup may not go through Dallas, but we will cause a few detours for teams that underestimate us.