In more ways than one, Ray Whitney has embraced the leadership roles vacated by the departure of Jaromir Jagr and Brenden Morrow. In more ways than one, Ray
Whitney has become the de facto captain of the Dallas Stars as they continue their quest for the playoffs.
Signed to a two-year, $9 million contract last summer as a free agent, Ray Whitney’s brief time as a Dallas Star has proved fruitful. The soon-to-be 41 year old produced 2 goals and 6 points in the first 8 games of the season before a broken foot knocked him out of action for over a month.
Since his return to the ice on March 12th, Whitney has been among the team’s most valuable players, becoming the team’s third leading scorer behind only Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.
Since the trade deadline, Whitney has the led the team as they fight for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
When rookie Alex Chiasson joined the Dallas Stars and scored 6 goals in his first 7 NHL games, it was Ray Whitney who could be found dishing out the assists, collecting points on 4 of Chiasson’s 6 goals. While his center, Jamie Benn, struggled to score, Ray Whitney picked up the slack, making that top line into one of the most potent offensive forces on the team.
With 11 points in 10 games since the deadline, Whitney is scoring at a torrid pace that has only been matched by, surprisingly, Vernon Fiddler, who’s 11 points in 10 games has been one of the best stretches of his career.
Though the team has dropped three of the last four games, the Dallas Stars still control their own destiny. With three games remaining against the San Jose Sharks, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Detroit Red Wings, all the Stars need to do is win and they’re in. Easier said than done given that they need to beat San Jose on the road and then defeat the two teams the Stars are directly competing against for the 8th and final playoff spot.
The last two seasons, the Stars have collapsed in the final stretch of the season, costing themselves a spot in the playoffs. Will this season be any different? With their less than glamorous history, the pressure is on this team, but with goaltender Kari Lehtonen healthy and fresher than he’s ever been at this point in a season and with scoring coming from up and down the lineup, there could be something different about this incarnation of the Dallas Stars.
If it is destined to be a different story, Ray Whitney will have to be among the players to separate this team from the teams of yesteryear.
Andrew Monrreal covered the Dallas Stars for The Hockey Writers and previously covered the Dallas Stars for the FanSided Network.