I was watching the Stars in Columbus on Monday Night fight their tails off to get a OT Loss in the standings in which they deserved better. Perhaps this is a market correction after the marginal review call they received at the end of the Washington game, but I feel like Karlis Skrastins received an absurd penalty call in the final minutes of the game against the Blue Jackets, and then, as is so often the case, the subsequent power play results in the goal that changed the outcome of the game.
No, I am not bitter. And no, I haven't spent a few moments thinking about it since last night. Not me.
But, let me focus on the positive. Like the fact that this team has had such wonderful play from the Brad Richards / Loui Eriksson / James Neal line to the point that they are all rocking very impressive +/- ratios as well as their normally very high offensive production.
I am very impressed with how the blueline has held up. I am plenty outspoken about my belief that the Stars need to add quality to this unit, but the night-to-night errors committed by defensemen is way down this year to what it was in the last few years.
And, most importantly is the goaltending. The fact is that if you have goaltending in this league, you always have a chance. Conversely, if you don't have goaltending, you have no chance. There is no question in my mind that this team is getting that save that they need at that moment they need it. Now, I do wonder how much of this is my perception versus the reality. The save percentage of Kari Lehtonen in 10-11 is not much different than Marty Turco in 09-10. They are almost identical. And yet, I feel at the moment of truth, it seems like Lehtonen is making the save to make the difference.
Is it that his quantity is the same as Turco, but his quality and timing is better? Time will tell.
And now, the best part of the start to the season. Let me show you a picture from my Iphone as I decided I needed to take a picture of my television last night:
Isn't that a sight for sore eyes?
I have updated numbers, thanks to the PR department (thanks, Graham).
Through 26 games:
2008-09: 10-12-4 (24 pts)
2009-10: 12-7-7 (31 pts)
2010-11: 16-8-2 (34 pts)
That is progress, friends. That is a step in the right direction. There is no "mission accomplished" banner. No parade planned. No nothing. But, are we nearing the Holiday season with the Stars still feeling great about their campaign? Absolutely.
They still have issues - like that road power play. They still need more help - think additions, not subtractions as the trade deadline approaches.
But, they are still in the thick of this thing and playing well enough for people around the league to start looking at Dallas and attempting to figure out how good the Stars really are. Trust me, it has been a few years since anyone has pondered that.
Joe Nieuwendyk's message from the summer is developing into reality. The Stars are tougher to play against. They have a more united room and a united purpose every night.
The next 20 some games will tell us plenty about whether the Stars are buyers or sellers at the deadline.
Now, a return get together with Marty Turco on Wednesday Night at the United Center as the Stars continue to roll into December.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
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