By Martin Iheke
It was quite a week for your Dallas Stars as they continue their push to securing a playoff spot for the first time in six years. Last Monday night, the Stars were looking to bounce back at home against the Buffalo Sabres after losing a tough one to the Tampa Bay Lightning the previous Saturday. Just like the last game, the Stars got off to another start falling behind 1-0 through the first period. At the beginning of the second period, the Stars finally woke up with a pair of goals from Captain Jamie Benn and defenseman Alex Goligoski to put the team ahead, 2-1, before Sabres center Tyler Ennis scored to tie it at 2-2. In the third period… forward Alex Chiasson, who had not scored a goal since December 3rd, put one past Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth on the power play that gave the Stars the lead and the win, 3-2. After the game, head coach Lindy Ruff talked about how much of a different player Chiasson has been since the Olympic break. “He’s looked refreshed and energized since he’s come back,” Ruff said. “We talked about it yesterday that he needed one to go in. He was in the right spot there and just got a piece of Benner’s (Jamie Benn) shot,” as he continued. By the way, the win was Ruff’s 600th of his coaching career.
The Stars made some news off the ice as the trade deadline approached when they traded away longtime defenseman Stephane Robidas to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional fourth round pick in this year’s draft before the team’s next game at the Columbus Blue Jackets last Tuesday. “It probably started five days ago when I started getting calls from some pretty good teams about Stephane, and I went and had a talk with him,” Stars General Manager Jim Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “I just presented the options to him and said that there are some very good teams, teams with a serious chance to win the Stanley Cup, and they are interested in trading for you. Do you want me to take a look at the options? Stephane said he didn’t want to leave his teammates, but that he would like the ability to know what teams were out there and what his options were, and we moved forward. I think it was a very tough decision for him, but I think we both wanted to make sure that everyone was happy, and we were doing what was best for everyone involved,” as he continued. Robidas did have a no-trade clause in his contract which is partly why Nill went to him about trading him to a contender. Robidas will be a free agent at the end of the season. With the way the Stars’ back end has played and with Robidas’s slow recovery from the nasty leg injury he suffered earlier in the season, this was the right move for all parties.
This was not the only trade Nill would make before the trade deadline expired. After the Stars quickly got down, 3-0, to the Blue Jackets and would go on to lose, 4-2, backup goalie Dan Ellis who was in net for the loss was traded the next day to the Florida Panthers for veteran goalie Tim Thomas. “This is a great example of how things can change quickly. When Roberto Luongo got traded, that opened a position in Florida and it’s something we talked about,” Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “Our mindset was it was a chance to pick up a Stanley Cup champion goalie who has been to the playoffs, been through the pressure, we want to do that. The Gaglardi family stepped up, were behind it the whole way and it was just important for us to solidify that position,” as he continued. This is a brilliant trade for the Stars. The opportunity to pick up a goalie who has won a Stanley Cup and knows how to play in pressure-type games is a huge plus. The Stars will play a lot of back-to-back games down the stretch and they cannot afford to fall behind early in games like the one in Columbus. They need every important save to get any points if they want to make the playoffs. The Stars returned home last Thursday night to blow past the struggling Vancouver Canucks, 6-1. Center Tyler Seguin was the star in this one with a hat trick (three goals) and two assists. “I think I want to prove personally every year that I play an all-around game and can be physical as well,” Seguin said. “I need to be a player that needs to produce for my team to be successful,” as he continued.
We turn our attention to last Saturday evening and before the game against the Minnesota Wild at home, the Stars officially retired the number 9 worn by the great Mike Modano who did so much for hockey in this area and nationally. It was a terrific ceremony produced very well by the organization and something we will never forget. As for the game, it had a playoff-type atmosphere with a sellout crowd in hand as the Stars would come back down from 3-2 to win, 4-3. Goalie Kari Lehtonen left in the third period after suffering what appeared to be a concussion thanks to Wild forward Erik Haula colliding into to him with a head butt. Lehtonen’s mask came off and his head it the crossbar of the net that knocked him out. Newly acquired goalie, Tim Thomas, came in when the team was down 3-2 and made six huge saves. Seguin and Erik Cole scored the two goals in the last period to give the Stars the lead and the win. After the game, Ruff talked about Thomas’s short but big performance. “He’s lived every situation so for me, Tim looked calm in there,” Ruff said. ‘He made some plays that maybe younger goaltenders wouldn’t make, even the play to keep the puck alive so we could get out of the zone without getting the faceoff and letting them get organized,” as he continued. The win put the Stars just three points back of the Wild for the seventh spot in the West.
The Stars will try to continue their winning ways when the Blue Jackets visit the AAC on Monday night before making a quick trip to St. Louis to play the Central Division-leading Blues the next night. The Stars will enjoy two days off before playing the Calgary Flames on Friday night and then travel to Winnipeg to play the Jets next Sunday night.
3/10 vs Blue Jackets 7:30 PM
3/11 @Blues 7:00 PM
3/14 vs Flames 7:30 PM
3/16 @Jets 7:00 PM