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The Puck Stops Here

The First Place Team

Before the season began would anyone have guessed that the Dallas Stars would be in first place in the NHL on November 8th?  They have a 10-3 record.  They are the only team in the league with ten wins.  They have a .769 point percentage, which leads the NHL.

Dallas is a team going through bankruptcy.  They struggled to meet the salary floor at the beginning of the season.  This isn’t the type of team one would expect to be in first place.  Most people picked them to miss the playoffs entirely.  This is a team that lost their top player Brad Richards to free agency over the summer.

Their strength so far this season has come from their goal prevention.  Kari Lehtonen has been one of the top goalies in the league.  He is posting a .936 saves percentage and a 2.14 GAA.  In eleven games, he has ten wins.  Dallas is second worst in the league in shots against and yet eighth best in goals against.  A large part of the reason for their record is the play of Lehtonen.

Their top defenceman has been Sheldon Souray who is posting some top numbers.  He has 12 points and a +10 +/- rating.  The Dallas Stars picked him up on the cheap after the Edmonton Oilers threw him away.  Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski are seeing a lot of playing time for the Stars and are doing pretty well in their roles to provide some defensive depth.

As for offence both Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn have 15 points in their 13 games.  Michael Ryder, Mike Ribiero and Steve Ott can also score.  Brendan Morrow is another proven scorer who has not yet had a hot streak this season.

Dallas is an example of a team where everything has gone right so far.  That isn’t going to happen over a full season.  There will be injuries and losing streaks and other issues.  How well will Dallas be able to handle these problems?

The Dallas Stars are not the most talented team in the NHL.  They have a lot of behind the scenes issues that should serve to be distractions this season.  Despite that they are in first place in the league.  I doubt that situation can last.  They are a team that will likely fall toward the rest of the pack as time goes on.  If they are to make the playoffs, it will likely be as a result of this fast start.

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Comments

Faux Rumors's avatar

1) I don’t think ANYONE expected this!  I saw them as a definite lottery pick team if not the worst team in the NHL.
2) The Sheldon Souray resurrection is undenyably one of the more amazing stories within a story After 2 years in the AHL who thought the guy would do anything positive?
3) Its still early ofcourse, but its definitly a nice story for they and their fans. Big test for them tonite in DC

Posted by Faux Rumors from Globally- Here, there, Everywhere on 11/08/11 at 03:19 PM ET

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It’s definitely going to take either a complete free-fall by Souray, or some hockey player saving the life of someone on the ice to have Souray not win the Bill Masterson this year….and yes it’s early, that’s how amazing the Souray story is.

Posted by Kobra from Edmonton on 11/08/11 at 04:17 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I don’t think Souray should win the Masterton Trophy.  I think a player who overcomes significant injury is a far better candidate than somebody who was exiled to the minors.  The NHL is full of players who spent long periods in the minors and then went on to have NHL careers.  Somebody like Tim Thomas better fits this picture than Souray - though unlike Souray the story is harder to pinpoint to a single season.  I would think if you think Souray deserves the Masterton because the Oilers put him in the minors last year, Thomas better deserves it given his multi-year path to the NHL. 

That said overcoming a career threatening injury is a better Masterton credential than somebody who was sent to the minors.  I support Joffrey Lupul for the Masterton so far this season.  I wouldn’t make Souray one of the three nominees, though I don’t deny that this is a great comeback.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 11/08/11 at 04:25 PM ET

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Thomas better deserves it given his multi-year path to the NHL.

What?  This is his seventh season in the NHL.  Why would he be in line for the Masterson this year?

Not that I think Souray is a legit candidate, since his play and his attitude are what led to him being “exiled” in the AHL, but why Thomas?

Posted by Garth on 11/08/11 at 06:41 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Garth

The Masterton Trophy is essentially a lifetime achievement award.  Tim Thomas made the NHL for the first time eight years after he was drafted.  He spent time in Sweden, Finland, the AHL, IHL, ECHL and NCAA on his way,  He turned 33 years old the first season he was a clear number one goalie.  His path to the NHL showed a significant perseverance and dedication to hockey.  I am sure a number of players with NHL talent who were forced to take a road similar to his gave up and never made the league.  Thomas didn`t.  That is a better example of perseverence, dedication (sportsmanship doesnt ever enter our than story) than Sheldon Souray ever showed.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 11/08/11 at 08:09 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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