With the NHL season a week away, it’s time to look at the newly realigned Central division. Each day, we will be looking at some of the teams that the Blackhawks will be facing in the Central. And hey at least, we are not in the Metropolitan division. Today, we look at the Dallas Stars.
Last year: 22-22-4, 48 points, last in Pacific Division
Key Additions: Tyler Seguin (C), Rich Peverly (C), Sergei Gonchar (D), Lindy Ruff (Head Coach)
Key Departures: Loui Eriksson (LW), Derek Roy (C),
The skinny: The Dallas Stars are very pleased to be out of the Pacific division and into the Central division. They will benefit as more of their games will be in the central time zone where they are located. Dallas is a team that has been on the cusp of a playoff berth the last three years but has not been able to punch through. Dallas may a gutsy trade in the offseason as they traded away star Eriksson to the Boston Bruins for Seguin and Peverly. Blackhawk fans will remember that Seguin and Peverly from the Stanley Cup Finals. Seguin will be expected to gel with Jamie Been who is their star and captain who led the team with 33 points last season. Dallas does have a veteran defense corps that will be bolstered by the addition of Gonchar who can help anchor a defense that is led by Trevor Daley and others. Kari Lehtonen is the goalie and there will be lots of pressure on him to get Dallas in the playoffs. It will be the responsibility of Ruff to get the team to gel and get them over the hump into the playoffs.
Player to watch: Tyler Seguin- There are lots of candidates for the player to watch on the Stars. You can look to Lehtonen or Benn but the most important person is Seguin. In Boston, Seguin was stuck behind Patrice Bergeron and David Krecji which left Seguin relegated to wing or on the bottom six of a deep Boston forward group. Seguin is now the unquestioned number one center for Dallas and will play with Benn. His numbers should skyrocket as he works with an elite winger and sees time on the power play. Last year, Seguin played overseas with Kane in Switzerland and led the league in scoring until his departure. It’s a good bet that as Seguin goes so will Dallas this season.
History: This series has been pretty one sided lately. The Blackhawks put up 8 goals in a game last year against the Stars including the memorable Kane spin-o-rama goal. The Blackhawks swept the season series last year 3-0 and none of the games were close. In the last three seasons, the Blackhawks have gone 6-5-0 but have gone 5-2-0 in the last two years putting up 5 or more goals in three of those victories.