Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dallas Stars 2008-2009 Training Camp Preview

As many in the hockey world begin pre-workouts for training camp many are ready to get back on the ice. Some like the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks left the race to the Stanley Cup empty handed and with broken hearts, the long summer for them could not end fast enough.

For the Dallas Stars the summer flew by because of immense success in last years playoffs. To a degree Dallas was a Cinderella of sorts, with hockey experts including myself anticipating an exit for Dallas at the hands of the Ducks. Instead Dallas went Duck hunting and prepared for San Jose while the Ducks enjoyed California’s beautiful summer.

On September 19th, the Stars summer will end. The Stars will begin training camp at the Frisco Stars Center in hopes of chasing down another Western Conference finals berth. For the Stars this summer has yielded great results in reloading for 2008-2009.

Signing Fabian Brunnstrom and Sean Avery add immense talent to already one of the most talented teams in the conference. Marty Turco looks poised to show he is again a premier goaltender in the NHL. Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov look set up to show old men really do it better than young studs. Brad Richards looks like the spring is back in his skates and Brenden Morrow looks ready to captain his team to the Stanley Cup.

Many would sit here at this point and begin explaining teams that could or will stand in Dallas’ way, but the team that destroyed Dallas in the playoffs last year wasn’t Detroit, but instead Dallas itself. Not to take away from Detroit, but the style of game they play forces teams to adapt or die.

The Stars couldn’t adapt and were left wondering what happened.

Dallas fell to Detroit in much the same fashion the Ducks fell to Dallas, adapt or lose badly is the new face of the NHL. For teams such as Anaheim who are all defense the league could get difficult. Balance more than ever is the name of the game.

The Stars have one of the best lineup’s in the Pacific Division, there are so many line combinations I wont waste time sitting here guessing the wrong one, instead I will point out the only team in the Pacific on Dallas’ level is San Jose.

For example, Anaheim is very talented, but scoring is a major problem. Phoenix looks to be a good team but the youth and defense could be problems. Los Angeles again will be the likely whipping boy for the Pacific to beat up on. San Jose returns with a greatly improved team and will surely again meet the Stars in the playoffs.

For the Stars to reap success like last year, it must all begin in training camp. Below is a list of what Dallas must accomplish in training camp to avoid issues once the season starts.

  1. Coach Tippett must find a spot in the lineup for Fabian Brunnstrom and make him feel comfortable yet challenged.
  2. Find a place for Sean Avery to produce both penalty minutes and points. A likely spot with Morrow and/or Ribiero would be a good place. I say give him a spot on a top line until he proves he doesn’t deserve it.
  3. The Stars must begin evaluating youth, Sergei Zubov’s likely replacement has been found in Matt Niskanen but who will replace Mike Modano in the coming years?
  4. Establish a depth chart for goalies behind Marty Turco. Who is a suitable number two and three? The Stars have a lot of goaltending prospects, develop wisely.
  5. Make Brad Richards feel at home. He was miserable in Tampa; make sure he feels good about Dallas so his production can only get better.
  6. Work on conditioning and stretching; keep guys healthy for the year. The Stars always experience injury bugs but this year it could bad with no AHL affiliate to fall back on. With no clear cut way the Stars will call up youth its best to avoid needing call ups all together.

If these issues are covered the Stars should have no problems in the new season. While some teams will wonder if the playoffs are too lofty of a goal, Dallas will likely wonder if winning it all is too much to dream of. For Dallas the sky is the limit, all the hard work begins now with pre-season workouts and training camp.

Images: Courtesy of Google, top one is most likely from the prospect camp. The rest are self explanatory.


MJ Kasprzak said...

The Sharks are deeper and more skilled at forward. They have a better backup goalie and their starter played better last year in the regular season and better every other one in the post-season. The Stars blueline may be better 5-8, but the Sharks is better 3-4 and as good 1-2.
Modano and Zubov are key players showing their age, whereas the Sharks' only old guys are Blake and Roenick, not near as key. Our time is now, and we won't need the refs to ignore a rule because the're tired and want to go home in order to win the Cup!

Ken said...

As long as the Cup returns to the Pacific i call it a win.

MJ Kasprzak said...

That doesn't sound like smack talk! C'mon, remind me we've never even gone to the Finals or something!
But seriously, I would too--as long as it's not the Ducks. The only team I'll root for them against is the Flames.