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It All Started a Year Ago

It’s the 4th of July, or as I like to call it, “The Anniversary of Seguin Getting His Independence from Boston.” A lot’s gone on in the 365 days since that important trade, and I think we can all agree that it was a turning point for the Stars franchise.

Because Jim Nill worked his magic and stole Tyler Seguin (along with the incredible Rich Peverley) from the Boston Bruins for the price of Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, and Joe Morrow the Stars suddenly became a new team, a more formidable team. It wasn’t always an easy ride, but the Stars made giant leaps in 2013-14, and it all began with the Tyler Seguin trade.

The trade showed the rest of the league that Jim Nill isn’t fooling around: he has a plan, and he’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill that plan. So we missed out on buyout centers Vinny Lecavalier and Danny Briere? Whatevs, Jim Nill went out and traded for TWO right-hand centermen, one of whom has the potential to become elite (spoiler: he did). And suddenly two of the top 10 scorers in the league are on the Dallas Stars. Suddenly the Stars boast a dynamic duo to rival Crosby/Malkin, Getzlaf/Perry, and Kane/Toews and look a whole lot more dangerous.

Factor in what Nill did this offseason, bringing in Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, and you have a team that went from zero to hero in the span of ONE YEAR. That’s amazing. 

And it all started with the acquisition of Boston’s supposed problem child: a guy so far gone that it was too late to save him from his party boy ways, an immature kid who was incapable of growing up, the young player whose scoring drought lost the Bruins the Cup.

All Jim Nill had to do was take a chance.

Just Say No, Sharks

The Sharks are adding Ice Girls, a move that is really terrible. 

Read about it here on Sharks blog Fear the Fin. And send your thoughts to the Sharks’ business operations via this page on the Sharks’ website.

Here’s what I sent:

To whom it may concern:

 

As a female hockey fan, it concerns me that the Sharks have decided to add Ice Girls at the expense of men and women who are already performing the ice duties perfectly well. This move is deeply objectifying.

 

Give me one good reason why the male ice workers are able to wear the standard parka/baggy pants uniform, yet the female workers have to dress like they’re at the beach to do the exact same job.

 

This move sends a horrible message to fans of all ages that the Sharks organization values superficiality over all else. It’s not too late to change that message: a more positive message could be sent by reverting back to how the ice crew operated before.

 

PLEASE reconsider the decision to add ice girls. No one deserves to be exploited, and I truly believe that the San Jose Sharks can be better than this.

 

Thank you.

Off-Season Questions

I’ve taken the time to compile a list of offseason comments and question for each roster player:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

This is half tongue-in-cheek and half serious.

Because, seriously: is Cody Eakin a second or third-line center?

 

Thoughts on the Heartbreaking End of an Amazing Season

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It didn’t end in the way we wanted it to. Hell, it ended with every hockey fan’s worse nightmare. But that doesn’t change the progress the Stars made this season, and it doesn’t take away any of the greatness.

It’s been a week since that Game 6, and I’ve had time to think about it and actually kind of get over it. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the highlights, but it’ll happen in due time.

Random thoughts:

  • The Stars played 6 more games than most people thought they would this season. I think that’s really important and nothing at all to be ashamed of.
  • So many players got their first taste of the postseason and excelled (looking at you, Ryan Garbutt). Now that they have a bit of experience, the years to come should be incredible. 
  • Tyler Seguin is not a playoff choker. Unlucky, yes, but not a choker. I’m not really into fancy stats, but they all tell the same story: the Stars generated many, many more chances when Seguin was on the ice than when he wasn’t. He had some posts too, so maybe he just needs to aim better. 
  • Maybe it’s a good thing the Stars lost that series the way they did. It’ll keep ’em hungry.
  • Although I do feel bad for Seguin. This is the third time in less than a year that he’s seen a game end like in that fashion, and two of those three times he was on the losing side.
  • I just want to mention that it’s apparently a penalty when Ryan Garbutt and Gabe Landeskog snow shower a goalie, but it isn’t when Corey Perry doesn’t (even though Kari had to go clean his mask out because there was so much ice in it ahahaha). Some consistency would have been nice.
  • The crowd at the American Airlines Center was wonderful. They were by far one of the loudest crowds I’ve heard all postseason. They deserved more playoff hockey in Dallas, but hopefully they’ll join us for the ride next year and pack the AAC night after night.
  • Nothing will change how proud I am of this team. I’m so proud.

All I can say after a season like that is 

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They Never Quit

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Are you supposed to get emotional over your own Photoshop work? Whatever. I made this, and it still feels relevant. Original post is on my Tumblr here.

They Rise Together

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Playoff hockey is finally back in Dallas, and the Stars put on a beautiful show. The American Airlines Center was full and loud and I so wish I could have been there.

12 Stars got their first career playoff victory

One of those Stars was Kari Lehtonen, whose first playoff victory was a shutout.

Random things:

  • Ryan Garbutt’s goal celly was the best
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  • Val got his first playoff goal and I cried. I love my Russian bae.
  • The only bad part about the night was Stephane Robidas getting injured again. It completely broke my heart. But it was so, so classy of the fans to give him a standing ovation and do a “Robi, Robi!” chant. He is well-loved in Dallas, and we take care of our own. I really, really hope that he’s able to come back again.

I’m really struggling to find words to describe Game 3 because it means so much to me.

The Stars were amazing to watch, and if they continue to bring it like they did last night they will win this series. The Ducks are really, really good, but the Stars can match them if they stick to their game.

Like Ralph said, “They rise together.”

Work It Out

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The first half of Game 1 was pretty ugly. The Stars’ and the fans’ worst nightmares became reality as the guys found themselves in a 4-0 hole. I had suspected the Ducks would come out and overwhelm them and I was unfortunately correct. And who could blame them? A lot of the guys were playing in their first career playoff game and several others hadn’t been in a playoff game in years. In this season, it’s a victory just to be there, but who can blame everyone for wanting more?

By the end of the second period, the Stars seemed to get it together. The Stars’ first 5-on-3 goal of the season sparked a change in the team’s play and allowed them to induce a little bit of fear into the dominating Ducks. It’s impressive that they got three goals to make it a one-goal game, especially considering how little experience the team as a whole has. I can’t help but see that as a good sign for the rest of the series.

The game played out much like the rescheduled Columbus game from last Wednesday: a flat Stars team comes out, falls behind, figures it out, and attempts a comeback. 

This team is young and growing pains are inevitable. But what’s impressed me this entire season is the Stars’ ability to adapt. I think a lot of this falls on coaching–Lindy Ruff has been phenomenally patient with his team. Even though they came out a little hesitant and scared, by the end they seemed to get a grip. I anxiously await Game 2.

Go Stars.

Why Not Us, Why Not Now?

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Looking back at hockey writers’ season predictions, not a lot of them picked the Stars to make the playoffs. Hell, some relegated them to the basement of the Central.  They’re too young, they said. Not deep enough. Horrid defense. Et cetera.

2013-2014 was supposed to be a transition year. No playoffs. Just hard work to prepare for the future, and surely 2014-2015 would be our year to shine. There were plenty of reasons to be excited about this year’s Stars team, including the hiring of the coveted Jim Nill, the trade for Tyler Seguin, and a new (but experienced) coach. They were supposed to come close but finish in the same depressing 9th-12th place they have for the past five seasons. Playoffs were still a ways off.

Except nobody told the Stars that.

So here we are in the second and final wild card spot preparing to go Duck-hunting. It wasn’t an easy road getting here, but this is real, this is happening.

I think this series is going to be a lot of fun. The Ducks are my absolute favorite team to play; I just think we match up so well against them. I know the regular season record between these two teams shouldn’t count for too much at this stage, but we did go 2-1 against them, including that incredible game where we scored 3 goals in 53 seconds.

The Ducks were the second best team in the league this season, and to think it’s going to be easy to pull an upset is foolish. Yes, they were upset by the 7-seed Detroit Red Wings last year and they are in the midst of a slight goalie controversy, but to stake a Stars win on those things is wishful thinking. They’re a deep team that’s good both on the road and at home, full of veterans who know how to win with a one-two punch of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

But…

The Stars boast their own dynamic duo in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. If they can really do some damage, the Stars can win this series. If Kari Lehtonen plays like the savior he’s been all season (and not the Kari of his only postseason appearance in 2007), the Stars can win this series. If they can get their special teams to a degree that makes a difference, the Stars can win this series.

We have the offense, the goaltending, the coaching. There’s no reason to believe that we can’t pull off the upset. It will be difficult—I can’t see this series going any fewer than 6 games; my guess is 7—but not impossible. No matter, it’s a victory just to be here. To advance farther would just be the cherry on top of a really incredible season.

Far too often this season I’ve counted the Stars out. Even a week ago after that disappointing loss to Columbus the pessimist in me came out: “Phoenix is too close. We’re just not good enough. We can’t finish. Can’t. Can’t . Can’t.” I’m glad I was wrong. I think this time I’m finally going to give my boys the benefit of the doubt.

Stars in 7.

Rising

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What a beautiful night to be a Stars fan. 

It’s truly a storybook ending to their playoff quest if you think about it. The Stars clinched their first playoff berth since 2008:

  • on Jim Nill’s birthday
  • playing Ken Hitchcock, the coach of our only Stanley Cup-winning team
  • coached by Lindy Ruff, the opposing coach of that Stanley Cup team
  • against Lindy’s former goalie, Ryan Miller
  • to eliminate Dave Tippett’s Phoenix Coyotes, finally exorcising those Tippett demons
  • with a game-winner scored by Trevor Daley, the only remaining member of the last Stars playoff team
  • on Fan Appreciation Night, where the biggest show of appreciation was to clinch on home ice

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Be Okay, Raptor Jesus

I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t been said already about Rich Peverley collapsing last night. I’ve watched hockey for my entire life, and this is by far the most afraid I’ve ever been for a player’s health. I’m not going to show videos or pictures or tweets about Pevs collapsing and how it affected the teams and crowd; no one needs to see that again. We’ve probably all seen enough of it today.

I’m personally thankful that I wasn’t watching the game as it happened. I had night class and decided to briefly check Twitter to see the score. When I saw that Pevs had collapsed, I freaked out. At that point, no one was reporting if he was ok or not–just that he had collapsed on the bench and had been carried (stretcher-less) into the hallway. I felt shaky and almost cried. The last time I felt like this was when I learned about the Lokomotiv disaster. Not a fun feeling. 

I was 11 when Jiri Fischer of the Red Wings had a similar incident and 14 when Alexei Cherepanov died during a KHL game. Both incidents were eerily similar to what happened at the AAC last night, and thankfully Pevs survived like Fischer did. However, what happened last night has shaken me to my core.

It’s easy to get carried away, especially in a sport as wonderful as hockey. It’s easy to forget what’s actually important. I think that that’s the sentiment echoing through every hockey fan’s mind today. The Stars mean everything to me, but almost losing one of my boys really put that into perspective for me.

I’ve never seen anything like what happened last night. I’ve never heard a crowd so quiet at a hockey game nor have I ever seen anything like the looks on the players’ faces. But everyone reacted beautifully, from the supportive tweets around the hockey and sporting world to the swift, incredible efforts of the Dallas Stars medical staff. Even though last night was a hockey fan’s worst nightmare, it reminded me just how great the hockey community really is.

If we miss the playoffs because Peverley’s not playing, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Pevs is okay. If he has to retire, that’s ok. Whatever will keep this wonderful human and teammate healthy.

At the end of the day, it’s just hockey.

Get well soon, Raptor Jesus.