Monday, January 10, 2011
Business as usual?
Certainly not, but if Joe Nieuwendyk and his crew continue to do things like extending Trevor Daley and acquiring Jamie Langenbrunner, we are going to think the Stars are just another normal team chasing a cup!
Wouldn't that be nice?
The Stars 7 straight road games - the first time since 2001, and the numbers are shocking. In the 2 road games before the streak, the Stars had conceded 10 goals (5 per game) - and during the 7 games of this run, they have allowed 12 goals (1.71 goals per game) - total. And with wins in San Jose, Detroit, and Chicago, this can hardly be called a soft spell in the schedule, either.
Let's talk Langenbrunner for a few moments. And man, are there plenty of angles on this one.
So, the man he was traded with many years ago is now the man who trades for him. It was Doug Armstrong's first big trade here after Bob Gainey have way that brought Jason Arnott to town for Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner. There may not be a trade in the history of the Stars that generates more opinion and debate than that one. There were reports of very hurt feelings from Langenbrunner after he had been assured he was not going to be dealt, and there was disbelief from fans that 2/3rds of the line that was so dynamic during the 1999 playoffs (Dave Reid!) was being sent away for the center who dominated the Stars in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.
Without spending the rest of my day pouring through the hockey almanac, I am going to assume the list is pretty short of "guys who traded for guys they were traded with". But, when things went really south in New Jersey, the captain of the Devils was available. He was 26 when he was sent away and now 35 when he was brought back. Joe couldn't pass on the chance to go get his buddy for 20 cents on the dollar. Langenbrunner does so many things. Let's count them.
1) - Right shot who completes a checking line with Adam Burish and Steve Ott that has a chance to be very good. Part of the excellence is that they are so tenacious that they might not spend much time at all in their end of the rink. The best defense is a great offense, right? Well these 3 forecheckers will likely try to use that ability to hound the opposition back to their own goalie.
2) - Plays the point on the Power Play. For now, that means with Brad Richards at certain times to put 5 forwards on the ice at the same time. But, without a Zubov on defense and with the uncertainty with Richards' future, this provides some level of insurance for having a heavy shot and a competent puck mover if they need another. I hear the Stars were planning to target him this summer anyway, so if an extension is worked out soon, don't be shocked.
3) - He has been a fine penalty killer his entire career. He is that style of stop-and-start skater that you want on the PK as opposed to the roller blade looper that is also available in today's NHL. With Burish, Ott, and Toby Peterson, the Stars are now pretty delighted to have PK guys who are not on their Top 6 forward lines and thus can save guys like Loui and Jamie Benn for offense in most cases.
4) - And of course, just a presence in the room. Another voice and another quality veteran who has seen it all and done it all. He has won cups, been a captain, and will be tough to deal with in the playoffs (and make sure you get there).
5) - Finally, this puts Jamie Benn into a offensive posture up with Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow. And the dividends are already obvious if you saw what Jamie Benn did on Sunday night to Cam Barker. Benn looks like he is on the verge of an explosion and already has put together a highlight film that is out of this world. But, because of the way the roster looked, he was back and forth from checker (with Ott and Burish) to scorer (with 63 and 10). If he could only lock in for a while, we might find that the sky is the limit for this kid.
There is no down side to this Langenbrunner deal. And to those of you who hung on to your #15 jerseys, get 'em out.
The captain of Team USA is back in Dallas. And the Stars are winning hockey games on a regular basis.