Dallas Stars: Work in progress progressing
The Stars have struggled to stay above .500. This may be disconcerting for some fans but I, for one, recognize this performance for what it is. It is a work in progress. It is not a reasonable expectation to think that a new coaching staff, a new GM and a significantly new set of players will immediately gel. I see progress that will enable making the playoffs.
Lindy Ruff – What a difference an experienced coach makes
Ruff has the experience to mentor players, criticize players or make the right moves at the right times. Ruff scratched both Goligoski and Nichushkin as healthy scratches. Ruff expected better from Goligoski and he has gotten more consistent and productive play since. For Nichushkin, Valeri needed to take a deep breath and relax a little in the NHL. Each game since the scratch, he has shown a growing presence culminating in his first goal of the season. Lindy also gave him more than 19 minutes with effective line shuffling. Ruff’s influence has also been felt with his emphasis on winning face-offs and engaging the defensemen in a north-south fast-paced offense.
The players – Molding the right mix of players into a team
Before the new regime, the Dallas Stars could only identify one franchise player, Jamie Been and they were tried to convert him into a center when his greatest productivity was as a winger. So the Stars went out and acquired Seguin giving him a long-term deal with a plan to move Jamie back to a Wing. Now they have two franchise players and can build a team around them. They recognized the potential of Cody Eakin and the energy that he brings to both ends of the rink. The wizard, Ray Whitney, provides the consistent and unselfish play that a future hall-of-famer can provide. The recognized draft steal of Valeri Nichushkin is the type of draft play that turns a franchise around. The strong Texas Stars program is delivering players like Chiasson and Roussel who have provided young players who want improve and make a difference. The Stars needed a player that could pick up the scraps around the net and Chiasson has demonstrated he can do just that with 5 goals in 14 games. The young defensemen like Brenden Dillon and Jordie Benn have demonstrated that they belong in the NFL with 7 and 3 points, respectively.
In the first 14 games, we have seen too many passing errors. Many are passes to a location their teammate isn’t and unfortunately, at times to a location of an opposing player. At the NHL level, I contend that this is a symptom of players who have not played with each other enough to know the speeds and capabilities of their teammates. This will improve. As with any team sport, players with tremendous skill must learn to play as a team and the right coach will facilitate that transformation. The Dallas Stars say, a ‘New Star Rising’.