Let's do some morning stick-and-puck odds-n-ends on our Tuesday morning. I hope we can all just pretend that 4-0 trouncing in Colorado never happened and move on. The good news on the road trip is that the Stars brought home a road Win at Edmonton. The bad news of course, is that the trip also had a disappointing night in Vancouver and what appeared to almost be an absolute no-show in Colorado.
Tough times and health issues are not assisting. But, those who can must continue marching and getting points. This is getting difficult to navigate in such a way that the team finds itself into the playoff mix.
I was asked yesterday what I think about the Stars playoff chances, and my response was that I am not as optimistic as I was a month ago. As we passed New Year's Day, it sure looked like the Stars were figuring out the Marc Crawford way and starting to come together. But, since then, the Stars have won 4 games out of 12, suffered injuries to some key guys, and won their first road game since mid-November.
The hopes that this team gets on a run in the final 30 games may be more in the realm of wishful thinking if they don't pick it up right away. 9 more games until the Olympic Break and 10 more games before the March 3 trade deadline. It all starts with the next 4 at home against Western Conference foes - the Flames, Avalanche, Coyotes, and Wild. In fact, 3 of the next 9 are against Dave Tippett and those shockingly impressive Phoenix Coyotes. They sit 5th in the west and if it wasn't for the shockingly impressive Colorado Avalanche in 3rd, they would be the talk of the west.
They are still right in the mix, but the results of this homestand are vital.
Let's check some email:
Hello Bob Sturm show. Dallas' only real radio hockey expert. Do you think the Stars regret trading away Mike Smith and Dan Ellis now? Okay, well maybe just Ellis at this point, but wouldn't it have been better to have those guys instead of paying a guy $5 mil grab some wood, bub? Alex Auld isn't the long term answer here. The Stars had a goalie surplus and now they have nothing for the future. And for a team that is building for the 'future", that is not good. I know it's all hindsight now. Do you think the Stars put all their eggs in the Gustavsson basket and really had no other "backup" plan? Pun intended. Also, do you think the Stars can trade Marty for "value" before the deadline? What do you think they could realistically get back? Thanks, and I never listen to BAD radio.
Wow. Every Stars fan's worries are tied up in goal these days, right? We are all wondering what will happen next. Will the Stars extend Marty's deal? - (I have heard nothing that tells me they will) Will they try to trade him? - (If they do, don't expect much back besides a similar salary in a dump from the other team to get a deal with future cash off their books) What are the other options?
I have to believe nothing is more on Joe Nieuwendyk's mind more than this issue. Did he take a chance on Gustavsson and get burned a bit? Maybe, but wasn't it worth taking? He almost got a goalie many people feel is a sure starter in this league for just a small amount of money and no assets in a trade. I think he needed to go to the mat for the guy. But, there is plenty of hope.
Look around the West right now. There are all sorts of goalies that were acquired for little or nothing that are doing well for their teams.
Craig Anderson signed in Colorado as a free agent in July for 2 years and just $3.6m total. That's right, he is starting for the Avs and one of the main reasons they are in 3rd place and he is making $1.5m - about what Jere Lehtinen is making this season.
The Coyotes continue to ride one of my favorite goalie in the league, Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov was acquired from the Ducks through Waivers (of all of Brian Burke's great moves during his tenure with the Ducks, how does he allow his back-up to stay in his own division? Trade him to the east for a bag of pucks so you don't have to see him half a dozen times per season!) Ilya then extended his deal with Phoenix for 3 years and just under $13 million.
It can be done. We have had many years of Belfour and Turco. We always have felt like we knew who the goalie was and that he was one of the pillars of the way the team was structured. It won't be easy to find the next one on the fly, but they are out there - and you don't always have to make them one of your highest paid players.
I bet by now your email box has been avalanched by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of emails regarding the cowboys, but I was hoping you could impart some of your hockey wisdom upon me. Lately my friend and I have been debating whether or not the Stars should make a move by the trade deadline. We both agree that they seem to be a few pieces away from being a true contender in the west. The disagreement comes on what those pieces should be. I believe that the Stars problems are rooted in their poor defensive play and goaltending. I suggest getting a premier defender like a Dion Phaneuf or Jay Bouwmeester. My friend on the otherhand feels that the Stars should join the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. I know it seems idealistic on both of our suggestions, given the Stars current financial situation, but we would like your opinion for the sake of arguement. Should this team make either of these moves, or should they stay put with the current incarnation?
They must address the defense corps and goaltending situation before we drop a single puck in 2010-11. Now, we must figure out how they do it. At the deadline? Perhaps. Trade? Free Agency? More cash from the owner? Who knows. But, there is no doubt in my mind that this team as presently constituted is not ready to win in the playoffs of the NHL. They need more on the blueline and they need a goalie that they believe in for the future.
I don't think this team is impossibly far away, but I think we can all agree that they are a ways from being a finished product that other teams fear. Too many holes at this point in time.
But, as for your debate with your friend, I think the Stars have a proper amount of guns up front. The question is whether they play the right 200-foot style to please Nieuwendyk/Crawford. Are they tough to play against? Are they cohesive? Are they consistent? These are more questions to either answer or address with a move.
* One final note: The other day, I was on the treadmill with the NHL Network. They ran a 30-minute program called the "Ovechkin Ovation" which was pretty much Alex's highlight film. I loved it, and it reruns today at 5pm, so I wanted to let you know you need to see it. He is a genius on the ice and for my dollar, the one guy I would pay to see above all others in the NHL today. Check it out.
Expect to see this goal broken down in great detail: