This is the first in a multi-part series of interviews with writers and bloggers from other teams, focusing on the Western Conference and Central Division teams.
Robert, if you could give our readers a refresher on who you are what DBD is, and a little background info on your Stars fandom.
Defending Big D is the SB Nation for fans of the Dallas Stars. It is, by far, the most popular Stars blog on the web.
I’ve been a fan since the mid- to late-nineties, and I started writing for DBD over five years ago before the first season Jason Spezza spent with the team. It has been a little while.
The Stars and the Blues had quite honestly the best if not second best series in the NHL playoffs last year, culminating with an incredible performance by Ben Bishop, but it seemed like the team was just out of gas, how did that read in Dallas?
That series was something else, eh? A bit more dramatic than the last Stars/Blues Game 7 in 2016, if a similarly disappointing (for me) result.
In Dallas, fans generally agreed that the Stars’ depth scoring just wasn’t built well enough for the playoffs. Ben Bishop gave them every chance to win, but even with Mats Zuccarello and Roope Hintz giving the Stars their first real second line of the season, Dallas just couldn’t find that one extra goal you need to make an outstanding goalie performance carry you through. Andrew Cogliano‘s whiffed backhand, Jamie Benn‘s wrap-around, and Zuccarello getting hauled down in front of the net in the final minute of regulation–there were close calls, but in the end, the Blues just had that extra bit of punch, and it carried them all the way.
Going into the offseason, what were some of the big needs that Dallas needed to fill in your eyes?
The Stars had missed the playoffs for two straight years, so I think fan perception was rather mixed. The Nashville series was a huge boost for a city that needed one, especially with the Winter Classic coming in January. And even though the Stars’ window is probably only gonna be open for another year or two, I’d say there are some generally positive vibes around the city. But it’s always the season after that really shows you what the fans expect, right? The Stars have as good a chance as they probably ever will in the next few years to make a run at the Division this year, and whether or not fans realize it, they need to make the most of it.
So, yeah. That secondary scoring (even primary scoring–Radek Faksa was their fourth-highest scoring forward, and he had a rather tough year) needed help, and it’s hard to say whether Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry are going to answer that bell. Pavelski has the track record, whereas Perry just looked cooked last year. Still, a fresh start and all, so we’ll see what they can get. Considering the whopper of a deal Minnesota gave Zuccarello, Dallas didn’t really have all that many options in the UFA market. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a trade this year, though.
Players to keep an eye on early in the year? Thoughts around the NHL? Who will win the division?
Roope Hintz and Miro Heiskanen are two young players who will really drive the bus for Dallas, or at least be the reason John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin (their two best players) are able to do so effectively. Colorado is looking scary again, and St. Louis was a monster down the stretch even before the playoffs started. It’s going to be a tough division, but those teams and Dallas really seem like the best bets to duke it out for the top three slots. Hintz has some size and speed that make his scoring touch scary, while Miro Heiskanen remains the best defenseman Pierre McGuire has never heard of. If Dallas gets great goaltending from its dynamite tandem of Anton Khudobin and Bishop, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dallas challenge for the Division title. Beyond that, it’s a lot of teams with question marks, and a whole lot more unsigned RFAs. Time will tell, as it usually does.
Let’s hope Pierre never learns about him, or you’ll get a decade of mispronunciations.