Fifteen games into the season the Stars are a hammer looking for nails. They have pounded, primarily the league's Eastern Conference teams, to the percussive tune of a 12-3 record.
What a start.
They are making good on preseason intentions that were born out of disappointments a year ago. (Remember how concerned you were after that 1-6 preseason? Silly panic-stricken you.)
Since then they've checked a lot of "to do" boxes:
Have a good start, because teams that aren't in a playoff spot at Thanksgiving get relegated to the kids table come April. ☑
(They sit atop the Western Conference)
Improve a goals against average that ranked 27th out of 30. ☑
(It's currently 17th...and rising)
Make the powerplay a weapon, and a deterrent. ☑
(It ranks 2nd overall and #1 on the road)
Upgrade goaltending performance ☑
(Lehtonen and Niemi have mostly sparkled, and coach Jeff Reese has helped that)
Maintain ability to score by the bushel ☑
(Only Tampa scored at a higher rate last year. Only Montreal has scored more goals this aeason...Seguin leads the league in scoring. Klingberg leads in defenseman scoring. And Jamie Benn leads in goals)
Win at home ☑
(At this time last year their home record was a very unstable 1-3-4 and they ﬂoundered and squandered most of the rest of the season there, so much so that "blown lead, overtime loss" green seemed more apropos than
"victory" green. Thus far this campaign they are a robust 5-1 at AAC)
Be a strong road team ☑
(Winning 7 of 9 on foreign ice is strong to very strong)
Avoid losing skids ☑
(Yet to lose two in a row. Like good gardeners they are "nipping it in the bud")
Become a more patient team ☑
(Tough to quantify this but trust me, they aren't rushing into trouble like white-trash women at Walmart on Black Friday.)
Win games in the 3rd period ☑
(They're a perfect 5-0 when leading entering the 3rd, and maybe more impressive, they've gone on to win in 5 of the 6 games in which they were tied through two periods. They've learned to "hurry while they wait" and dust opponents with the game on the line.)
Impressive isn't it. I'd struggle to check that many boxes if I was tackling a simple weekend "honey do" list from Mrs. Razor. (That was a weak, corny, and completely fabricated analogy. I deserve your ﬁnger shaking wrath)
Oh sure, it hasn't always been pretty or complete, but let's keep in mind it's a damn good league, and as Erik Cole used to retort, "The guys on the other team get paid too."
What it has been is a conﬁdence booster, a points in the piggy bank binge, and a wack of fun to call. (Winning...it's, like, better than losing)
Of course on the horizon are more frequent dates with their stout Central Division siblings. Yes, poop is about to get real all up in here. And success versus their division is another preseason box that is awaiting a check mark. Last year they won just eight times in the twenty-nine games - only Edmonton (4) ﬁnished with fewer wins versus their own division.
If this goal achievement continues into the new year they'll have to add some more boxes.
Maybe even one shaped liked a wedding cake?