Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Stars Prepare to Close Out 2008
I think the Stars are happy to see 2008 come to a close. Although there has been lots of good (last year's success in the playoffs, for example), there have been lots of let-downs too (last year's exit from the playoffs and the Sean Avery Show, for more examples).
Although the Stars couldn't pull out the victory in last night's game against the Stars, they did look good matched up against the league's "top team". There was lots of energy throughout the lines, and the physical play that has been missing at several points this season was very evident at the AAC last night. Steve Ott brought the same game he's been bringing since coming back from his hand injury - everything but the fisticuffs. No one wants to bring that aspect back to his game more than Ott, but he's being very smart in how he plays. And there are foes around the league who are taking rain checks, you can count on it. Otter's dance card will be full when he can drop the mitts again. But, as Razor said in his commentary last night, the only thing that might keep Ott out of the lineup for a long time would be a tongue injury. His jawing is key to his game. But it wasn't just the physicality that looked good last night - there were some displays of finesse too. James Neal has looked fantastic in his latest stint with the club, and last night the line of Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen and Neal was the most successful, in terms of chances against the Sharks.
Bottom line - even though the Stars didn't pull out the win, they were right in it all through the game. The Sharks have only been defeated eight times in the 36 games they've played, and four of those times it took overtime to decide the winner. There's no shame in dropping one against San Jose, even though the win would have been nice.
It's time to look onward and upward, though. The annual New Year's Eve game is tomorrow, and this year it brings us the New Jersey Devils. It's been six and a half years since the trade that made Jamie Langenbrunner a Devil; hard to believe sometimes. I don't know about any one else, but it's still difficult to see him playing in another team's sweater. At least he went to the Eastern Conference, and we don't run into him more often...I have a feeling we'd regret that trade more and more if we did.
One more thing to look forward to for the new year - the Annual Winter Classic hockey game played on New Year's Day. This year's matchup is the Blackhawks and the Red Wings and will be played in Chicago's beloved Wrigley Field. I really love what the NHL has done in creating this annual event - the outdoor game is a wonderful oddity, and is great to see. Hopefully the execs who schedule this every year take notice of how well it is received every year by the fans, and will continue to schedule this every year. I would love to see the Stars play in one, but it's pretty obvious that it would have to be a road game if they do. How great would it be to see the Stars take on the Wild up on a lake in Minnesota though? Very cool!