August 09 2012 08:00AM
In 2012 the Dallas Stars missed out on the playoffs for the fourth straight year. After being eliminated in the final game of the season in 2011 by the lowly Minnesota Wild, the Stars were spared some of that heartache by missing the cutoff by six points in 2012. The Stars were 17th in Fenwick Close, and when you finish in the middle of the pack in possession the chances of your season ending early increase.
Despite missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year, the Stars weren't a disaster under first year head coach Glen Gulutzan. They have their issues going forward, but the club has a solid developing core of young players that should carry the team back into contention at some point in the near future.
This offseason was the first in several years where the Stars organization had some money to spend and with that infusion of wealth they set their sights on three key areas: special teams, depth, and possession.
August 08 2012 06:13AM
Bet on Benn to be even better in 2012-13
Photo by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons
The 2012 season saw Jamie Benn start to get national recognition for the type of player he has been developing into over the course of the prior two seasons. He was the Dallas Stars best player on most nights into 2011-12 despite being one of their youngest. The Stars offseason activities are going to further thrust Benn into the spotlight in 2013.
The question is "Can Jamie Benn actually be better?".
The answer is a resounding yes. Benn, despite already being an elite player, is primed for a significant breakout season next year.
August 07 2012 07:24PM
Once again, it's up to Getzlaf to carry the Ducks offense
Photo by Arnold C, via Wikimedia Commons
I'm not going to lie to you: the Anaheim Ducks were a bad team last year. And they're probably a year or two away from getting substantially better. That's the kind of stuff that happens when you swap out Lubomir Visnovsky for Sheldon Souray, your best players have mostly peaked or are past their prime, you have to fire your Stanley Cup-winning coach mid-season, and the youngsters are not quite ready.
Yet, at the same time, this is an exciting team for me. I love watching Jonas Hiller and Teemu Selanne play; ditto Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf. I have a great appreciation for how Toni Lydman and Saku Koivu play the game, and Cam Fowler and Devante Smith-Pelly can be fun guys to watch on the ice.
But what makes up these 2012-13 Ducks, coming off a dismal 22nd-place finish in Fenwick Close? And why could they be slightly optimistic?
August 07 2012 06:19AM
The universe - it's not so static.
Photo by NASA, Public Domain
It was one of those moments that you live for in research. A shocking result popped out of the analysis. "Holy crap, this is going to change the game," I thought.
But that's not the story here. The real story is what happened next.
August 06 2012 01:28PM
Weiss wants to stay on top.
By Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons
One year ago, Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers were the laughing stock of the Internet after he splurged to get his team to the cap floor. Tallon acquired eight multi-year contracts last season and while some of them may have appeared reasonable, many of them were just flat out terrible. Not only that but they were raising the market value by overpaying for mediocre players. Despite all of this, Florida managed to win the Southeast Division, make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and take the eventual Eastern Conference champions to seven games in the first round. So the joke is on us now, right? Not quite.
Florida did have a good season and were actually a pretty decent team at even strength, but luck played a role in them winning the Southeast Division last year. They had a worse goal differential than both Washington and Winnipeg, had the same amount of regulation and overtime wins as the Avalanche, Sabres and Hurricanes and acquired 52 of their 94 points from one-goal games, 18 of them coming in shootout/overtime losses. They also played in arguably the weakest division in the NHL, which was left wide open thanks to disappointing seasons from the Capitals and Lightning.
Tallon’s shopping spree last off-season could come back to haunt the team, as well since they are now saddled with a lot of long-term deals and could run into problems when it comes time to give Stephen Weiss a new contract after this season. The good news is that they have a lot of quality forward prospects in their system and one of them could replace Weiss eventually, but having a little under $30 mil. committed to seven players in 2014-15 could make it difficult for the Panthers to build around that group of talent, especially for a small market team.
That being said, the Southeast title is still up for grabs and the Panthers are the defending champs, so they are going to look to defend their throne coming into the year. The only problem is that their team didn’t improve much coming into this off-season while other teams in the division got better. How does Florida stack up compare to them?