Christmas joy is making its way through the hearts of NHL fans as jerseys, championship gear, and tickets nestle their way under the tree. Some may look out their windows to see the street frozen over for a hockey game, or Cousin Eddie draining his RV sewage into a storm drain. Glad tidings reached fans as the NHL finally agreed on a deal to begin the 2020-2021 season on January 13th.
For the Dallas Stars, it now means they have a chance to defend their Western Conference title and hopefully get just two wins further than last season. The Stanley Cup Final appearance was just the icing on the cake for an eventful 2019-20 season that elated Stars fans about their team. Here are some of the things Stars fans are asking Santa for Christmas.
#5 Seguin and Bishop Ready for Playoffs
During the 2020 playoffs, Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop had serious problems with lingering injuries. In November, the team announced that both of them would be out for five months because of various surgeries. These players are crucial to the team and seeing them hurt is rough, especially since this is not a one-time thing for both.
The Stars should have playoff aspirations so getting Seguin and Bishop to play every game is important if they want to get far. Seguin struggled through the playoffs recording 13 points in 26 games while dealing with a nagging injury that slowed his production. Bishop played in just 3 games during the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. Seguin led the team in points during the regular season with 50. If the Stars have Stanley Cup hopes, these players are going to be a big part of it.
#4: Goals, Goals, and More Goals
Only two teams scored fewer goals in the 2019-2020 regular season than the Stars. Their defense and goaltending are the main reason they got so far. They need to score more goals in just about every facet of the game. Their top line of Jamie Benn, Seguin (when he returns), and Alexander Radulov must step up. This first line scored 51 out of the 180 Stars goals on the year, 28.3% of the team’s total production.
Denis Gurianov led the team with 20 goals. To put this in perspective, all 30 other NHL teams had a player that scored more goals than the Stars’ best guy, and they made it to the Stanley Cup Final. Their main goal should be scoring more than the 2.58 goals per game they averaged last season.
In a 56-game season, they’ll need 145 goals to make this happen. They need everyone to produce more offensively but their defense and goaltending have been getting the job done during the past two seasons. The question is can they make playoffs if they don’t improve in the goal-scoring department?
#3: Khudobin Stays Past 2021
This is the final NHL season with 31 teams as the Seattle Kraken will play their first game starting in 2021-2022. They will get to select a player from each team to make up their franchise. One of the Stars players will have to go and seeing as they are allowed to protect only one goaltender, it’s looking like a high probability that the Kraken will select Anton Khudobin.
Khudobin was a major contributor to the Stars’ Stanley Cup Final appearance. He has veteran playoff experience that the Kraken would love to have. He deserves starter status and would probably be one if Seattke selects him. The Stars could still make a deal with the Kraken in order to keep him but if not, they will likely select him in the Expansion Draft.
#2: One Central Division Winner to Rule Them All
One of these wishes would have been hoping that we actually get an NHL season. Since the news recently came down that this was the case, details are now ironing out. Previously suggestions placed the Stars in the Pacific, moving with the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. This is not the case anymore. For this season only, The Stars are staying put in the Central Division, but with a plethora of new teams that are going to put rivalries at a major premium.
For the Stars, it’s the “Saturday Fight Night” of cage matches with a great mix of new and old playoff rivals. They are going to be in a division with the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes. For starters, there will be several Stanley Cup Final rematches in games against the Lightning. The Stars will play eight games against each of their divisional teams with the top four teams in each division making the playoffs. The wish here is for the Stars to take the division crown.
#1: Jamie Benn Lifts the Cup
The Stars got perhaps the biggest draft steal in franchise history during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft when they selected Jamie Benn 129th overall. Benn has been with the team for the longest out of anybody and is poised to break many franchise records set by Mike Modano. The team captain has given the franchise his entire career so it would be a shame to see him not raise the Stanley Cup with the Stars.
In his final interview after losing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Benn barely got a few words in as he was overcome with emotion. In the Stars’ playoff documentary, Benn was the final person in the locker room, still dressed in his full uniform. He has given so much to the franchise and Stars fans would love to see him raise the Stanley Cup. If that moment happens, get ready for a wave of emotions.
2020 Coming to an End
The final wish is not really one about the Stars but all of 2020. In one of the worst years in recent memory, hockey fans had to endure several months without hockey and a revolving carousel of news about the season being canceled. Christmas already came for each of us when we got the news that the season starts on January 13th. The Stars would love to add another Western Conference Champions title to their belt but it will be called something different.
Since there are no conferences, Round 3 will be the Stanley Cup Semifinal. The Stars should have aspirations for #1 not just in the division but in the league. They have every bit of potential to win the Stanley Cup next year. Another wild ride like the 2020 playoffs is sure to delight fans. As 2020 closes out, the Stars can look toward a new chapter for their franchise in 2021.