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No Need To Panic

by J. Douglas Foster / Dallas Stars

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Panicking now is not necessary.

Freaking out about the Stars’ slide to start the season would be completely premature.

It is, after all, an 82-game season, and it won’t be made or broken in the first five.

I know you’ve heard it before. And I can tell you where you heard it.

Right here. In this very portion of the Internet, roughly the middle of March (article from 3.21.08). Remember that month, when, as the 2007-08 campaign was nearing conclusion, the Stars were suffering through their worst stretch of the entire season? Remember a 1-7-1 stretch that eliminated most chances of Dallas catching San Jose in the hunt for the Pacific Division crown? Remember that the Stars were 4-8-2 in their last 14 games, and weren’t on anyone’s radar as a team with a potentially deep playoff run in their future?

If you don’t remember, I’ll tell you why. It’s very possible that Dallas’ six-game disposal of the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, followed by a memorable defeat of the division champion Sharks in the same six games, has clouded those memories of a March swoon. Seeing the Stars get back to the Western Conference Final, and re-establish themselves as an elite NHL team, probably made you feel guilty for ever doubting in March.

And if you do, then you shouldn’t doubt now. Not this early. And not based on the way the Stars have lost four of their first five. Just like we told you not to panic then, we’re telling you, once again, not to panic now.

Do they need to get things turned around quickly? There’s no doubt about that. With the start San Jose is off to, falling too far behind – whether we are talking about the Stars or the Ducks – would allow the Sharks to possibly run away and hide atop the division. Getting at least two wins on this upcoming New York trip would be a start, though we all know that won’t be easy considering the way the Rangers and Devils are playing.

But it is possible. And should the Stars come home with at least four points, there might be good reasons to start believing again.

More than that, however, there re several other reasons to believe – which are based solely on what we’ve seen through the first five games.

For starters, we all know Marty Turco is not a 4.71 goals-against average netminder. He’s also not a .814 save percentage goaltender. He is both of those things right now. But we know from his history that he’s not really.

Not for extended periods. Not for an 82-game season.

No, history – and a quick flip through the Stars’ media guide – tell us he’s got a career 2.18 goals-against average, which is tops among all active NHL netminders since he entered the league. It also tells us he’s stopped 91.2 percent of the shots throughout his career, much higher than the percentage he’s stopping now. 

Finally, history, and especially last spring, showed us that even when he is doubted most, he can and will rise to the top. Those offering the Stars no chance in the 2008 postseason based their argument on Turco’s unproven playoff record. So all he did was post a 2.08 goals-against average for the entire playoffs, including a 1.73 mark and .929 save percentage through the first two rounds, helping the Stars advance by completely outplaying Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere and San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov in the first two rounds.

He’s rallied from tough stretches before. I’m saying he’ll do it again.

Reason No. 2 not to panic? No matter what’s happening right now, Brenden Morrow won’t finish the year with 262 penalty minutes (his current pace), and won’t be a minus whatever.

If we learned anything in the ’08 postseason, it’s that Brenden Morrow is now a dominant player in this league, one capable of physically imposing his will and providing huge goals at huge times. There’s no doubting that his consistent strolls to the penalty box will soon end, and before you know it we will be seeing the same beast owning the opponent’s crease that we saw through April and May.

When that happens, when we see the real Marty Turco and when Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov return, you’ll have long forgotten a 1-3-1 start, or that you ever thought this was the start of a highly disappointing season. What you saw in the spring was not an aberration. The start to this season, however, is.

Bank on it.
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