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Friday, September 26, 2008

The DALLAS STARS SPR by Frozen Pill

26 September, 2008

Many people were surprised to see the DALLAS STARS in the 2007/8 playoffs. At On Goal Analysis, we were not. Many were even more surprised to see them reach the Conference Finals where they gave eventual Cup Champions Detroit something to worry about. This year the STARS hope there is much reason for Hockey Town to worry.

Finally silencing his critics, Turco performed with poised confidence as he turned away the opposition and gave his team a chance to win games. The STARS responded. Turco’s performance was not so different than the previous post-season but this time the team in front of him found ways to score in the playoffs just as they had done during the regular season (2nd best in the Western Conference). The recently found net-tickler-touch comes from such contributors as leading scorer Mike Ribeiro who, away from the hometown spotlight of his previous club in Montreal, has finally arrived in the NHL. Add a breakout year from perhaps an emerging best-Captain-in-the-NHL, Brendan Morrow with the (now young) STARS core on offense and you have the chemistry needed for a team in transition and with a mission.

By the time the locally beloved and traditional New Year’s Eve game of 2007 was over, the DALLAS STARS had called in their post-season reservations like one books a table at a restaurant on the same holiday; in advance. OGA saw them rise above the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) and secure their spot in the playoffs with +3 rating against the curve.

In the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The STARS qualified for their third playoff appearance in a row since the lockout.
  • The STARS finished second in the NHL in penalty kills (85.59%) reminding all observers the DALLAS defensive system has been tended well since the Bob Gainey/Ken Hitchcock era.
  • Marty Turco claimed his fifth strait 30-win campaign.
Coach Dave Tippett showed, again, he is a pragmatic and efficient coach. He currently has the highest winning percentage of all active NHL coaches since the lockout having gone 148-78-20. But a case could be made the new and emerging talent in DALLAS still moves down the current of Selke River with two of the league’s best defensive forwards, Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen. With new impact players brought into the organization since the trade deadline last year (Brad Richards, Sean Avery), the STARS are getting more attention for their potential. Later, we’ll see what the On Goal Analysis PQC reveals about the DALLAS STARS’ play for the first 10 games of the new season.

Although Mike Ribeiro lead the league in shot efficiency with 27 goals on 107 shots (25.23%) the new confidence in offense comes from a deep lineup. The STARS have four lines who compete to set the game’s tone almost every night. A close analysis of the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) shows a team capable of hitting overdrive by February to solidify a spot in post-season play. The STARS also trend towards a strong start to the season playing anywhere from +.5 to +3 ABOVE the PQC. This year should be no different.

With the much discussed off-season signing of Sean Avery and his mouth, fans are anxiously awaiting the start of the season and wondering how this may affect the STARS’ identity. Perhaps timing is everything. Perhaps the time and team are a good fit and we will see Avery do what so many other players have done after joining the well structured organization in DALLAS and commit to the system. He is reunited with Co-GM and childhood hero Brett Hull with whom he also played in Detroit. Brett says he sees a lot of himself in Avery. Perhaps he means ‘hears’.

The DALLAS STARS will likely play above and/or at the PQC for the first 30 games of the season. In fact, look for the STARS to improve on their average against the PQC during this time frame in the 2008/9 NHL season.

The STARS’ first 10 games of the season are played 10 OCTOBER – 29 OCTOBER. Our exhaustive research indicates, in this time frame, the STARS earn a PQC rating of 6.5 and about 12 points in the NHL standings.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations in to late October are:
  • DALLAS splits its first ten games equally between home and the road but has struggled the past few seasons with consistent play at home. They will be excited to solidify their Morrow-captained identity as a team with increased fire-power and grit.
  • Since the lockout, the STARS are an impressive 18-9-3 in their first ten games.
  • DALLAS play almost an entire point ABOVE the NHL PQC for the first ten games and an impressive +1.3 above the PQC within the tough Pacific Division.
OGA will be measuring the STARS against their PQC Rating of 6.5 (as well as with all other NHL teams) in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with DALLASGame 10 Report. The G10R will be delivered to our subscription customers by 2PM Central on 30 OCTOBER and available for purchase online by 2PM Central, 31 OCTOBER. See the OGA store for more details HERE. You can also view a sample for our G10R HERE. (Make sure to view all 3 tabs!)

Will the rising STARS of Texas continue their ascendancy towards another Cup run? They will need to continue their winning trends of late and hope to see another stellar year from their (all of a sudden) young defensive core. But the defense tradition has been taught and learned from within their system. Now we wait to see what a fresh start for Brad Richards, Sean Avery and Fabian Brunnstrom adds to the mix. It should be an exciting season so stay tuned to The OGA Blog for a thorough analysis of the STARS’ performance. OGA is at the Hanger so make sure to check out the DALLAS STARS G10R to review their performance against the PQC.

Tomorrow brings the MONTREAL CANADIENS’ SPR and another dose of your daily hockey vitamin, the Frozen Pill.


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