the Dallas Stars are on their way home with seven out of 10 possible points from their last five away games. When even your head coach is defining road-trip success as a .500 split, that’s pretty remarkable.
But what does it mean for where this team is, and where (we hope) it’s going?
The Athletic‘s Saad Yousuf offers a close examination of the Stars’ latest road stint, and why it could be the stretch that exemplifies their season. First, the challenges:
There are layers to defining the success of this trip for the Stars. Logistically, it was a tight squeeze. The Stars were coming out of a very comfortable stretch in their schedule. In the previous two weeks, Dallas had played just six games. Two of the games came following multiple days of rest and the last five games had all come at home. Suddenly, the Stars were staring at five games in eight days, all on the road, including a back-to-back to kick things off.
Then, there’s the gauntlet. The Stars were in a good place in the standings, second in the Central Division at 16-7-5, just behind the Winnipeg Jets before the trip. The Stars have been a good team from the outset but how good has been a fair question. Based on the standings on Dec. 11, the day they departed for the road trip, the Stars had four wins in 28 games against teams in the playoff picture; just two of those four wins were against teams that were in the top three of their division. They were 4-5-5 against teams in the playoff picture.
After all this, Yousuf found that the Victory Green Gang is not experiencing the effects of puck luck, or of one or two players on historic heaters. Rather, they’re reaping the benefits of a system that’s working for the team instead of against it:
The Stars weren’t obliterating the scoreboard, as they have done at times this season. There’s been enough of a sample size to show that this team can generate offense when necessary, but their offense in these five games was more about the system and less about catching lightning in a bottle. There was no player riding a hot streak and of the 13 goals scored, only three came on the power play….
Before the season began [head coach Pete] DeBoer cautioned that his system would take time to really get flowing. He sometimes put the timeline at Thanksgiving, other times closer to Christmas. This five-game road trip fell right in the middle of those two benchmarks. In a young season that has produced plenty of positive results, the totality of the five-game trip through the East Coast has been the most encouraging.
There’s much more behind the paywall, including a reflection on the advent of Jake Oettinger. [The Athletic DFW]
I don’t make the Eddie the Eagle comparisons, I only report them.
Around The Leagues
In On The #Kill Taker
In case you missed the pregame festivities, the jackets celebrated the second night of Hanukkah hockey-style. [NHL]
RABBI AREYAH HAS GOT US HYPED
A special thank you to Rabbi Areyah Kaltman for celebrating with us on the second night of Hanukkah! pic.twitter.com/ndiuXaz46S
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 20, 2022
Usually a team does this nach the Stanley Cup parade. What do you make of it?
In other news, the US National Men’s U17 Team scores another big win in another international tournament.
“Our focus is on making the sport safer and more inclusive and rebuilding [the] trust.” Hockey Canada’s new board has work to do, but they look ready for it.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park, And Beautiful Boise
the Texas Stars are on a hot streak and celebrating the holidays at home. Guess what? You can help.
Don’t forget that we’re hosting a Holiday Toy Drive at our games tomorrow and Wednesday! Any new, unwrapped toys are accepted at the Foundation table & you’ll get a discounted ticket to a future game! It’s a win win! https://t.co/9McfKKQIvG
— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) December 19, 2022
Stephen Meserve documents the T-Stars’ latest victory and helps put their streak in perspective. [100 Degree Hockey]
Additional good stats from @JohnPetersonVOX:
“The victory signals Texas’ longest winning streak since they won 11 straight from March 15-April 12 during the 2013-14 season.”#txstars won the Calder Cup that season.
— 100 Degree Hockey (@100degreehockey) December 18, 2022
There’s quite a bit of good news coming from the Stars organization right now, as the Idaho Steelheads are happy to remind you.
Speaking of the Steel, it looks as if Boise will be very, very good for Antonio Stranges (and that he will be even better for Boise).
️”It’s kind of exciting… I was happy to bury a couple tonight and help the team win.”
Antonio Stranges talks about netting his first and second pro goals, as well as acclimating to the locker room and spending his first week in front of the Boise crowd. pic.twitter.com/lShcMtU6yZ
— Idaho Steelheads (@Steelheads) December 19, 2022
Happy birthday big league. You don’t look a day over 25.