By Jon Gabrielle, Stars correspondent
I’ve seen a few columns lately regarding sports franchises and what the next decade holds in store for their respective teams. That seems highly susceptible to look that far into the future, and Nostradamos I am not.
What will happen to the Dallas Stars franchise and how Mr. Hicks’ revenue challenges will shake out is anybodies guess, and that includes many of the higher ups within the organization itself. With a new CBA on the horizon and the economy not exactly booming I prefer to leave that specualtion to the financial experts.
So instead, I will stick to the immediate future, something I may not be great at either, but at least I have some semblance of facts at my disposal.
Exactly halfway through this campaign, the Dallas Stars sit in 10th place in the Western Conference on the outside of the palyoff bubble looking in. And that may be the good news. They are within striking distance.
Unable to play with any real consistency in terms of wins is definitely of concern.
They have laced up their skates 41 times this year, winning only 14 games in regulation. Add in two overtime wins and two skills contests, and they have a grand total of 18 wins to date.
In front of a festive Holiday crowd Saturday at the A.A.C. and riding the momentum of a mild two game winning streak, once again the Stars were unable to put three consecutive wins together for the first time this season, this time losing to the Vancouver Canucks, 3-1. They have won two consecutive games only twice the entire year.
The loss prompted their captain, Brenden Morrow, to say that, “today was a disappointment but through 41 games we’re still plugging away.”
Early last week, color commentater, Daryl Reaugh touched on a major problem concerning Marty Turco and the state of the Stars once formidable netminder. “Marty’s been making a lot of stops this year that he shouldn’t be…the problem is, he’s also letting in a lot of goals he shouldn’t be.”
Without a legitimate number one defensive pair that can literally shut down opponents physically, the Stars rely heavily on their goaltending. Probably too much. If they are to make the playoffs they need Turco to play like the way he did in his prime, making the saves he shouldn’t as well as the ones he should.
Turco has some legitimate wear on his body. The former fifth round pick has averaged almost 69 games a year over the course of his last five. And that’s not counting playoffs. His record in 30 games this year is, 13-9-8 with a .911 save percentage, decent by most standards. However, the Stars may need better.
Alex Auld was brought to give the 34 year old veteran a bit of a respite. He is a competent back-up and has done everything asked of him, including posting a 5-3-3 record and a .901 save percentage.
For the Stars it’s no different than the rest of the league, free time(OT & shootouts) has increased considerably, making every game close. In this NHL, every goal and every save counts, usually meaning the difference between one point or two…or as was the case saturday, none.
At times this year, the Stars have been resilient, bouncing back from tough losses, bad losses and some inexcusable losses.
As the second half of the season begins with a trip to metropolitan New York to face the Devils and Rangers, one question looms. Are the Stars on the verge of slipping further from playoff contention, or a team finding their stride, poised to make a second half run into the playoffs and beyond?
Brad Richard’s said about Saturday’s contest, “it was a tight game…we played some good hockey.” Unfortunately “some” good hockey may not be enough to make the playoffs in 2010.