Written in the Stars- A Dallas Stars 2013-14 preview

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Believe it or not, the NHL season is upon us.  With the lockout last year pushing the season further into June, it seems like the Chicago Blackhawks were just hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup a couple of days ago.

Dallas Stars new jersey and logoA  new season is right around corner with the Dallas Stars dropping the puck on the full 2013-14 season on October 3 against the Florida Panthers.  It’s time to do a preview of what fans hope is a big year for the franchise: one that will include a return to the postseason.

The Stars are celebrating twenty years of hockey in Dallas since moving from Minnesota.  To commemorate the occasion, the Stars have a new logo and new jerseys this year.  They’re decent.  Kind of flashy.  We’ll see if it leads to new results.

lindy ruffThe logo and jersey weren’t  the only changes for the Stars during the offseason.  A wave of change,  fresh perspective, and new ideas has swept over the franchise.  GM Joe Nieuwendyk was let go and Detroit Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill came aboard.

There have to be a few people who are skeptical of letting Nieuwendyk go, but early on, Nill has been aggressive in making the Stars better which has to make fans happy.  Head coach Glen Gulutzan was fired after two years, and sitting on the bench next year will be former Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff.

Prior to getting fired in the middle of the season last year, Ruff was the longest tenured head coach in the NHL.  He is a veteran coach and the Stars feel lucky to have him.  Kind of odd that he came to Dallas since his Sabres lost to the Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals in controversial fashion, but he seems happy to be here in an effort to turn the Stars back into a winner.

This year also marks a new beginning for the Stars in terms of new division rivalries.  The NHL will feature four divisions: Central, Pacific, Metropolitan and Atlantic.  The Stars reside in the Central Division where they will be joined by the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.

None of the teams that the Stars played against in the Pacific Division last year are in their division.  It’s going to be a little different seeing all of these new faces on a more regular basis, but the team will be up to the challenge.  If anything, this division might be a little easier for the Stars.  The Jets, Predators and Avalanche all missed the playoffs last year.  Yes the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are in the division, but it beats having to go on a lot of long road trips to the pacific time zone to play against the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

tyler seguin starsAs for the team itself, they have some new faces.  The Stars made perhaps the biggest trade of the offseason in the NHL when they acquired forward Tyler Seguin and center Rich Peverly from the Boston Bruins for forward Loui Eriksson and several prospects.  Seguin is young and has a ton of talent, but he doesn’t always play hard or up to that potential.  By trading for him, the Stars hope that it will light a fire under Seguin and he will turn into a consistent, dominant force that can lead the Stars to the playoffs.

Peverly is a good player too.  The loss of Eriksson is big, but the Stars will be able to make up for it with other veteran players.  Dallas also made a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for veteran center Shawn Horcoff in exchange for defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh round pick in 2016.  First round pick Valeri Nichushkin is a right wing who the Stars hope will be able to contribute early and often.

Want to know a fun fact about the Stars roster?  Most of the Stars players are left handed shots.  Nine of the twelve centers on the Stars current roster have left-handed shots.  Six of the seven left wings have left handed shots.  Only veteran Ray Whitney does not.  Fourteen of the eighteen defensemen shoot left handed and four of the five goalies are left handed.  Inevitably, the numbers will drop as cuts have to be made to the roster before the season starts, but it looks like the Stars will be prominently left-handed shots this year.  The only position that has almost all right-hand shots is…as you would expect…right wingers with six of the eight players on the current roster having right-handed shots.

The Stars drop the puck on the regular season Thursday, October 3 at home at the American Airlines Center against the Florida Panthers at 8:30 PM ET/7:30 PM CT.  Full season schedule can be found here.  Think the Stars will make the playoffs this year.  Won’t win the division, may not even be the second best team in the division, but they will do enough good things to end the four year postseason drought.  It’s ime to get excited about hockey Stars fans.  It’s all written in the stars.

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