The Dallas Stars are shining. You should probably take notice.

Since my beloved Philadelphia Flyers are off to what some may call a rough year, (I’d call it something much worse but I digress.), I’ve come to pay more and more attention to my adopted second team and favourite west coast team, the Dallas Stars.

1969_dallas_stars-alternate-2014What a couple of nights they’ve had in Alberta. If you combine both games, the Stars outscored the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, 10 goals to 3. Backstopped by two amazing performances from Kari Lehtonen, the Stars first line of Tyler Seguin, (thanks Boston!), Jamie Benn and 2013 first round draft pick Valeri Nichushkin exploded in a way that this Dallas team hasn’t seen for a very long time. The poor Flames were stunned as Seguin scored 4 goals on route to a 5 point night and Benn finished in his own fine fashion with 6. Both players are now tied for the team lead in points with 22. There’s no doubt that the Team Canada brass will be taking a closer look at both Seguin and Benn. Benn over Giroux at this point.

I’m glad for Tyler Seguin as well. Since he’s gotten away from Claude Julien’s defensive style of play in Boston, he’s been adapting insanely well with Lindy Ruff’s more offensive system.

Take into consideration that the average age of that line is 21. Assuming that nobody has a freak injury, gets traded or goes back to Russia (Hey, it COULD happen. *shrugs*), this line could spell trouble for a very long time, at least a good 10 years. These boys are just starting out their careers and have plenty of hockey to play.

And that’s just the first line.

Nichushkin. (Photo: IffyBear. flickr.)
Nichushkin. (Photo: IffyBear. flickr.)

The second line of depth features veteran Erik Cole, Cody Eakin and breakout sensation, Quebec native, Alex Chiasson. Chiasson is going to be another player to watch and a key player to Dallas’ success. He’s racked up 11 points in 19 games and has proven that he belongs up in the show. His speed and head for the ice is astounding.

I can’t write this article without mentioning how great Kari Lehtonen has been playing. The man is posting a .929 save percentage and will definitely be a shoe in for Team Finland in Sochi. It’s great to finally see him thrive as he is one goaltender who deserves it.

Dallas also have a very strong farm system in the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. Travis Morin, Colton Sceviour, Jamie Oleksiak, and plenty more are just one step away from their big leap into the show. Believe me when I say that Dallas will be a force in the next couple of years. There definitely is a New Star Rising.

Early Runners: An EIHL summary

By Ed Kimberley
Coventry, England

But first, a small digression.

Most people in the world of hockey are hotly anticipating the beginning of a new NHL season and so they should; it’s looking to be an exciting year. Stories already are circulating around the newly announced hybrid icing to try and minimize injuries on icing plays, the helmet removal rule pre fight and the restructuring of the divisions.

Nichushkin. (Photo: IffyBear. flickr.)
Nichushkin. (Photo: IffyBear. flickr.)

Talent-wise, we saw an interesting offseason and it will be interesting to see which of the many rookies will be named the Calder Trophy winner. My 10 cents are that it is likely to go to, Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin. Nobody pre-draft was denying Nichushkin’s talent; comparisons were being made to Malkin and Ovechkin, BIG comparisons. Seeing him skate in pre-season, his composure on the puck is sublime. or a big guy (6ft3 – 200lbs) the comparison to Ovechkin and they way they both use speed to drive the net is proving accurate. I might be wrong, but a top 5 talent fell to 10 when the Stars picked him up because teams seemed un-easy to take a gamble on if he would (or even could) leave a KHL contract.

The deal that was struck with Jim Nill was that if Nichushkin was to not make the Stars roster/or besent down; he would be loaned back to Russia. This is another reason I think Nichushkin will step take the Calder accolade. He has everything to lose. He has made it quite clear the NHL is where he wants to be, and he’s got to prove it. The lure of the KHL has been tempting for many a Russian never to return and for the likes of MacKinnon, Jones and even Finnish centre Barkov who can mature their game close to home in the junior leagues, they can afford to play the NHL waiting game.

Back to the EIHL … Continue reading “Early Runners: An EIHL summary”