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January 17, 2019
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The Stars have risen.
Not long ago, everyone, including this here intrepid fake journalist, had buried the Dallas Stars. They started the season 8-11-4. Brenden Morrow hit the IR. Marty Turco couldn’t stop a beach ball. The team had worse chemistry than Macchio and Robyn Lively in "Karate Kid III." It was hopeless. But then a miracle happened.
Sean Avery, whose inflated contract made him the poster boy for Brett Hull’s ineptitude as a general manager, recognized things weren’t working out in the Lonestar State. He did what any true leader would do in such a situation. He sacrificed himself for the greater good. And he did it with two simple words.
Ever since Avery uncorked his infamous appraisal of Dion Phaneuf’s love life, the Stars have been reborn. Dallas has gone 14-7-3 without Avery, vaulting to within two points of fifth place in the Campbell Conference. Better yet, the Stars are fresh off a 4-2 victory over the filthy Red Wings in Detroit and are now 3-1 against the Winged-Wheel, proving they’ve got the goods to compete with the best.
Avery’s selfless heroism has galvanized the squad, and Turco is leading the renaissance. The preseason Vezina candidate went 7-10-4 with a pitiful .867 save percentage over the first two months, but he’s rallied of late, stopping pucks at a .907 clip in December and January. He was even in net for the victory in Detroit, snapping his personal 0-8-2 streak on Joe Louis ice.
Assuming Avery’s suspension makes him ineligible for team MVP, third-year man Loui Eriksson is proving worthy of the honor. The 23-year-old Eriksson leads the club with 23 goals, which is already nine more than his previous career-high. He’s bagged 12 in Avery’s absence, and none sweeter than this one against the Wings…
With their captain Morrow already on the shelf, losing an inspirational leader like Avery could have been disastrous, but savvy veteran Jere Lehtinen has helped calm the waters. Lehtinen returned from an upper body injury on December 20 and is starting to heat up. He’s got three goals in his last five games and seven points in his last seven. The Stars are 10-5-4 with Lehtinen in the lineup.
And don’t look now, but Steve Ott is filling the scoresheet. Ott was expected to tag with Avery and give the Stars the two best agitators in hockey. Sadly, Ott has had to soldier on without his beloved ally, ringing up four goals and eight points in his last seven games.
So are the Stars back? Well, this team still has plenty of holes, especially along the blue line. A top six of Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Darryl Sydor, Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Grossman, and Andrew Hutchinson doesn’t scream Cup contender.
The good news is Dallas doesn’t exactly have to beat out Gretzky’s Oilers to make the playoffs. The bottom four spots are up for grabs, with Phoenix, Anaheim, Minnesota, Edmonton, Dallas, Columbus, and Vancouver all in the running. That’s a whole lot of suck right there. Take your pick.
But rest assured, somewhere Sean Avery is lighting a cigar. He loves it when a plan comes together. He also loves it when the shoes match the dress, but that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is the Stars have new life. They have a second chance.
Sloppy seconds, indeed.
By the way, if you missed this week’s LCS Hockey Radio Show, you should really give it a whirl. Larry took on not one but two Damesheks in “Road House” trivia, battling both Cousin Brandon and Dave for supremacy of all things Swayze.
Unfortunately, BlogTalk didn’t record the final few minutes of the show, cutting out just as Brandon was about to deliver the decisive answer. Yes, Tinker did have a CAT patch on his hat. And, yes, Brandon and Dave won, 12-10.
Pain don’t hurt.