Given the lull in offseason coverage, many of us here at SBN Hockey decided now was a good time to get to know another team blog. But you already hear enough about teams in the East during the regular season, so we decided to mix it up and send things across conference lines. Today we get to know more about the Dallas Stars, courtesy of Art M from Defending Big D. Check out my Q&A with Art after the jump and read my answers to his over at DBD.
First off, congrats on starting the season without Sean Avery. May he continue to rot and shop for handbags in New York.
Thank you and we couldn't agree more... Sorry you have to deal with him more than once this season, but at least be glad he's not on your team!
1) During 2005/06, the first season after the lockout, the Dallas Stars posted an impressive 112 points before losing to the Avalanche in the Quarterfinals. Since then there has been a dramatic drop in points - 107 in 06/07 (lost to Vancouver in Quarterfinals), 97 in 07/08 (lost to Wings in Conference Finals) and 83 in 08/09 (failed to make playoffs). Do things go up from here or will the Stars continue the trend?
I don't see them breaking the 100 point mark this season, but I can't see them going lower than 83 points either. No one from Stars fans to media experts alike seem to know what to make of the Stars this season with a new coach, new GM and far fewer distractions (and expectations) going into camp. The Stars have had a history of being able to make small changes to the overall makeup of the team every summer - change parts on the fly as it were - and stay very competitive every season without having to go through that messy "rebuilding" stage that some teams are forced to do (re: Avalanche, Colorado 09/10 season) and I think this past summer was just another example of that practice in work. I'd be surprised if they missed the playoffs and stunned if they go lower than 83 points.
2) Improvements during the offseason - what areas did the Stars focus on, where do you feel they can use a little more help and are they playoff material?
The Stars really wern't that active this summer and I think that's because Joe Nieuwendyk wants to see what this team can do if fully healthy. They picked up a couple of defensemen in Karlis Skrastins and Jeff Woywitka so that should help in terms of roster depth, but the Stars still lack a true #1 defenseman that can QB a power play. The biggest adition as funny as it is to say it is the addition of backup goalie Alex Auld. One of the Stars biggest holes last season was the lack of a decent backup for Marty Turco. Managment gambled that Tobias Stephan would step up into the role, but that experiement failed miserably. Marty needs a solid number two guy to push him and be reliable enough for the team so that Turco at most is starting 60 to 65 games and no more.
3) I think a common perception from fans in the East is that Marty Turco tends to buckle under pressure. Was he the root of the Stars' flawed playoff run last season or does the blame fall elsewhere?
Marty's sub-par play was a key reason why the Stars failed to make the playoffs, but not the only one as I think injuries I think played a bigger part in that. As for Marty though it was almost like he tried to do too much on his own. Before the season he was doing interviews and speaking about he wanted to be the guy that got the Stars to the Cup final so right off the hop he was putting a great amount of weight on his shoulders. Then Morrow went down with injury and was lost for the season and it was like Marty figured it was all up to himself now. Then the Avery stuff happened and Turco got his nose into that as well and was speaking publicly on the situation when really his main concern should have been to improve what had been a slow start for him. Marty I think has shown he can play under pressure and thrive, but the times he's choked under that pressure have been greater than the times he's done well under it and therein lies the frustration Stars fans have with him. He better be able to play under pressure this year because it's a contract year for him and the Stars haven't given any indication lately that he's the indespencable franchise player he once was thought to be a few years ago.
4) Who would you say is Dallas' biggest rival, and why?
I don't think the Stars have one true big time rival like the Pens do with the Capitals or Flyers - but they have a lot of smaller ones. Edmonton because of all the playoff battles... Anaheim and San Jose are constant rivals because thay have always been on top of the division with us... Games against Los Angeles are always crazy and Stars fans have started to get a solid hate on for them... Colorado used to be a huge rival - maybe for a time the biggest - but lack of playoff matchups plus the fact they have been in steady decline the last few seasons has kinda taken away from that. If you're an old school North Stars fan - and there are still a few of us - then you still don't like the Blackhawks or Blues... The Red Wings would be a real good rivalry as well if it didn't seem so one sided for them most seasons.
5) On an Olympics-related note: Mike Modano for Team USA captain? Yay or nay?
I think that's a major yay. Brian Burke has always been a fan of him, he's the elder statesman on the team and better yet Doug Armstrong isn't on the American managment side of things to strip him of the C and give it to a younger guy. Mo I think right now has to be considered the face of American hockey so I don't see why you wouldn't give it to him.