Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A look ahead: The Stars

Avery says he watched the Stars battle the Red Wings in the Western Conference finals and felt like they were one piece away from getting past Detroit. You can guess who Avery thought that piece might be.

"If you throw me in the lineup in that series, it's definitely going to make the difference," he says.
I don't know about that, but I do think the Stars will be a team to watch this season in the Western Conference.

To this point in his career, Avery has received far more pub than his output has merited, something that stems from just how much he stands out among hockey's pretty bland bunch. Being controversial these days is reason enough for copy to be spent, and Avery — along with Ray Emery — is as close as the NHL comes.

Avery's 28 years old, but prior to his latest 104-game stretch with the Rangers (including playoffs), he had only had 42 goals and 114 points in 293 games, the equivalent of three and a half full seasons.

In New York, he scored at a 22-goal, 51-point pace, but his $15.5-million, four-year contract calls for more than that going forward. Dallas is paying for potential, as much as any team does these days with its youngsters, and I don't think that's such a bad bet.

Avery played under 16 minutes a game last season with the Rangers, with very little time on special teams, and that'll change this time around. The Stars have done a decent job adding top-end pieces after being a team short on scoring depth for so long, but they will still lean heavily on their top six forwards: Brendan Morrow, Brad Richards, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Ribeiro, Mike Modano and Avery.

So he's a factor — but hardly the only one. More than anything, what should propel Dallas forward will be some better luck in the health department, as Sergei Zubov, Lehtinen and Philippe Boucher all missed 30-plus games last season. All will be integral when it comes to taking on difficult opposition, especially with some green players like Fabian Brunnstrom coming into the fold.

Toss in a full season for Richards, who should be re-energized after a lost campaign, and they'll be tough to beat in the Pacific Division.

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At 11:04 a.m., August 12, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Morrow may have been the individual highlight of the playoffs last year. I do think Avery would've helped, but would it have been enough? Doubtful. Detroit was a machine.

Anytime Morrow was on the ice the opposition was frustrated in some form. Imagine him going to the bench and Avery jumping on.

Some more interesting Dallas questions to be answered:

1) Will all the young D that were broken in last year hold up for year 2?
2) Is Toby Stephan really a viable NHL backup?
3) Does Hull honestly like Tippett (did you read Bobby's analysis of Dallas' playoff performance)?
4) How do they counter San Jose copying their Sask-centric team building mould (Saskatchewan born and raised coach and captain)?

At 11:45 a.m., August 12, 2008, Blogger Hooks Orpik said...

(Mirtle on Avery's prediction he could have turned the tide) "I don't know about that"

I'm no fan of the guy but New York was 50-20-16 with Avery (reg. season) and 9-13-3 when injured. That team certainly was significantly better with Avery in the lineup.

At 12:05 p.m., August 12, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

I don't want to discount their agitation skills, but Morrow and Avery take too many penalties.

If Avery thinks they're going to roll over Detroit now, he's got another thing coming.

At 12:20 p.m., August 12, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

3) Does Hull honestly like Tippett (did you read Bobby's analysis of Dallas' playoff performance)?

I really doubt that the Hulls are of one mind on anything.

At 3:23 p.m., August 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet my last dollar that Ribs does an imitation of his homey from Montreal, Theo now that he has the fat contract.
Expect a big 35 to 40 points from Mickey Ribs now that he's got the cash for life lottery. he'll be centring Steve Ott by December.

At 1:57 p.m., August 13, 2008, Anonymous Alex in AZ said...

Anonymous - I'll take that bet unless Ribiero is injured during a large part of 08-09. He's a different player alongside Morrow than he was in Montreal and I expect him to be even better than he was last season.

At 2:26 p.m., August 13, 2008, Blogger Jerrod said...

@ Nick

Morrow Drawn 55 - Committed 40
Avery Drawn 46 - Committed 38

So their penalty +/- is actually a +23 combined. As long as they put us on the PP 23 more times than they put us on the PK, they'll be fine. Factor in Steve Ott:

Ott Drawn 56 - Committed 43

And you have a formidable trio who can run on different lines and cause other team's top players to get off their game and take stupid penalties. They're effective at what they do. Especially when of their combined 121 Penalties taken, 24 of those were fights. That doesn't even take into account those b/s roughing calls that go to players on both teams during scraps.

I don't see a down side when it comes to their penalties especially given the fact that the Dallas PK was 2nd in the league last season (barely) behind San Jose.

At 11:38 a.m., August 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerrod, where did you find the penalties drawn stats? I'd like to see that breakdown for some other players in the league. Tomas Holmstrom, for example.

At 1:50 p.m., August 14, 2008, Blogger Jerrod said...


I found the information on this spreadsheet:


I am assuming it is correct because it does look to be, but I can't be 100% sure since I didn't make it myself.

I then went to Hockeyfights.com to figure out how many fights the three of the guys had to show what the penalties were for.

Btw, looks like Holmstrom drew 30 and took 29....so not very effective in that facet of his game, heh. However, Datsyuk (3rd) and Zetterberg (12th) are a combined +61.


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