What in the heck is happening in Dallas?
In the weeks and days leading up to the trade deadline, the Dallas Stars moved their then leading scorer in Michael Ryder, their captain Brenden Morrow, their second line center in Derek Roy, and another leading scorer, not to mention one of the greatest to play the game, in Jaromir Jagr.
And you know what? Somehow, someway, this Dallas Stars team is actually better.
As Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News so succinctly puts it following the team’s third straight win, “this is just getting silly.”
The Dallas Stars looked just about dead in the water after two straight losses to the Anaheim Ducks on April 1st and April 3rd, the latter being the same day as the trade deadline. They were outscored a combined 9-2 and the fans began to throw in the towel, looking forward to a draft in which the Stars would surely get a top 10 pick.
How could they possibly find any success with their best players shipped out for a collection of prospects and draft picks? How could this team do anything but lose out and prepare for next season?
But then something funny happened.
In the final game of their three-game series versus the Ducks, the Stars actually looked…good. No, not good, they looked great.
Lane MacDermid, one of the players acquired in the Jaromir Jagr trade, was essentially considered a throw-in, a young player who would provide grit on the fourth line. He scored his second goal in as many games.
And then there’s Alex Chiasson, the 22 year old right winger was called up from the AHL to get a taste of the NHL. In just his second NHL game, he scored his first career goal en route to an impressive 3-1 victory over a Ducks team that had basically had their way with the Stars in the two previous games.
The kid, who became the top line right winger alongside Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney, followed up that performance by scoring two more goals in one of the most impressive wins of the season against the San Jose Sharks. The Stars twice overcame two-goal deficits to steal two points in the shootout.
The Dallas Stars then added another, dominant victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night and now sit in 9th place in the Western Conference.
Maybe, just maybe, the subtraction of Jaromir Jagr and the addition of Alex Chiasson has actually improved the Stars, allowing Benn to shift from deferring to Jagr to leading the charge.
But it’s not just Alex Chiasson and the first line who can be credited with the recent success, up and down this lineup, players have seemingly awoken from their slumber. Vernon Fiddler, who before the April 3rd trade deadline had just 1 goal and 5 assists on the season, now sits with 3 goals and 10 points, accruing 7 points over his last four games. His line, with Eric Nystrom and the man acquired in the divisive Michael Ryder trade, Erik Cole, is creating havoc and scoring chances every time they’re on the ice.
Alex Goligoski, who can never seem to escape criticism, sits third on the team in scoring with two goals and 22 points. He’s playing his best hockey of the season alongside his partner, Brenden Dillon.
This conglomeration of players is finding success and right now, they look unstoppable. But with an upcoming schedule that features the Sharks (2x), the Kings, the Canucks, the Blues, and the Blackhawks, among others, the road to the playoffs will be as difficult as it has ever been.