Thursday, June 16, 2011

2010-2011, We Hardly Knew Ye

For the Stars, 2010-11 ended much the same way 2009-10 and 2008-09 did: in the regular season. They did improve by leaps and bounds by actually being in the hunt right up until the final buzzer of game 82, but ultimately the result was the same. No playoff hockey in Dallas, leaving the Championship-fever to the Mavericks, Rangers, and FC Dallas for another year.

2010-11 started with a 3-0 bang, most notably in Dallas against Mike Modano and the Red Wings, but as the season went on it turned into a T.S. Eliot-esque whimper. The fact of the matter is that the Stars controlled their own fate at the Xcel Energy Center in April and they just could not do anything with it. We remember the nailbiting while watching the Red Wings squeak out a win over the defending champion Blackhawks and the jubilation when, for the first times in our lives, we cheered when the Wings won a game. All of that Wing-love was for nothing.

Why? We had a Jamie Benn who had put on his big boy skates after coming back from injury, the emotional boost from the return of Adam Burish (the Stars went 4-11-4 in games without him), the return of Brad Richards who was the sole reason the Stars were even classified as an NHL team (according to TSN), and the borderline miraculous work of a stunningly healthy Kari Lehtonen.

Well, three things.

First, Marc Crawford. We happen to know that he's a great guy and a decent coach, but he mismanaged the bejeezus out of the last few weeks of the season. This was most visible when Jamie Benn's production started to slow down from its meteoric pace. In the absence of Brad Richards, Jamie started to put the team on his back, something that anyone whose ever run a 200 meter dash with a 200 pound slab of concrete on their back is hard to keep up for too long. He just got way too tired to be as effective as he could have been. We'd blame part of that on Crow's mismanagement.

Second, the defense. This is probably the team's biggest downfall. The players who were supposed to be the ying to the chaotic yang of the Daleys and Goligoskis of the team (i.e. Karlis Skrastins) just did not play the no-nonsense defense that we were relying on them to play. The opposition's forwards were largely allowed to do whatever they wanted in front of the Stars' net, mostly because the two defensemen who had the ability to clear them out (Nicklas Grossman and Mark Fistric) were either injured or benched. Add to that Jeff Woywitka's propensity to engage in and subsequently lose both races to and battles for the puck and you have what proved to be one of the most porous defense corps in the league.

Third and expanding on that last point, Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash basically stole the 8th seed away from the Stars with his last second heroics in two late season games. For that, and other reasons stemming from our hate for names that sound like kinds of fish, we hate him.

But, as will be detailed on Sunday, there is hope for the future. Stay tuned to find out why the mystical trio of funky Canadians known as the Three Gees are going to save the Dallas Stars.

-We here at Six Six Hicks would like to congratulate the Boston Bruins on doing the world a favor and not letting Alex Burrows lift the Stanley Cup.

-Furthermore, Remember this, Mr. Conn Smythe?

-As the Razorboy points out, it's kind of sad that the same Bruins team that probably stole 5-6 points from the Stars in the stretch due to the effects felt by that old fashioned, barnstorming donnybrook at TD Banknorth Garden in early February. At the same time, it's also kind of fitting. At least to us.

-The worst part about a Dallas Star being nominated for an NHL Award (Loui Eriksson, Lady Byng)? Stars fans will have to find out if he won or lost while being sandwiched by bits from the unfunny Jay Mohr. You know that an awards show host is going to be bad when he openly admits to not knowing the game he's representing in the promos. SSH is toying with the idea of liveblogging the event (and tearing it apart in the process).

Tomorrow: The Inaugural Six Six Hicks Thislist- a list of the people surrounding the Stars that we here at SSH just cannot stand.

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