Dallas Stars' source of frustration

daley.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I decided to throw my guess in the hat, too.

First, here is my guess for the Dallas Stars.

Trevor Daley – To be honest, my instinct was to say “Matt Niskanen” but I actually thought of this feature idea while watching Daley, so I’ll pick him. Every time I see Daley skate, I cannot help but think: this guy should be so much better than he is.

For the Stars, I prompted the gang from Defending Big D aka Brandon Worley’s old stomping grounds. Brad Gardner was kind enough to answer the call. Believe me, it’s still a great blog, even without our boy Brandon there. (Note: the numbers a bit outdated because I was slow to post this. Not Brad’s fault, instead mine.)

Ask most Stars fans this question and the answer you’ll get most often will probably be Marty Turco, whose struggles in the past two seasons are well documented. I’ve always found the “just blame the goaltender mantra” to be a little incomplete, and quite frankly, lazy analysis.

Can we pick a forward? The Dallas offense ranks 9th in the league. Stars fans often like to complain about Brad Richards’ $7.8 million contract as a weight that’s dragging this team down, but he’s tied for 5th in NHL scoring with 90 points as of this writing and seemingly involved in every single good thing that happens for the Stars, so it’s hard to find frustration there, despite his -11 rating on the season.

No, when I think frustration in Dallas I think defense, and I think Trevor Daley.

After the jump: why Daley is a source of frustration.

When Joe Nieuwendyk and Marc Crawford arrived in Dallas, touting a new “up-tempo” system, Trevor Daley was said to be the guy to watch. Under Dave Tippett and his staff, Daley’s skating and offensive upside were shelved while he was taught to develop a proper defensive foundation. Crawfords’ arrival signaled the unchaining of Trevor Daley and his ample speed.

79 games later, Daley has a growing reputation in Texas for scoring as many goals on his own net (6 by our count this season) than on the other teams net (also 6 now), and is on pace to have fewer points (currently 20) than in each of his last two seasons under Tipett (25 and 24), barring a barrage in the final 3 games.

A late season run in both points and the +/- department has Daley’s critics in the local media asking whether or not he’s finally ready to take it to the next level: A question they’ve asked in each of the last two off-seasons. I hope he is, but as the Stars highest paid defenseman this season, he’s not consistently getting the job done on either end of the ice and would be better suited as a third pairing kind of guy behind stronger players.

This is all to say that our real source of frustration is Tom Hicks and his empty pocket book. It’s not Trevor Daley’s fault he has a little too much weight put on him, it’s Hicks’. Until the ownership changes, the lowest paid defensive group in the Western Conference will continue to wrongly rely on lesser players to perform above their pay grade.

Honorable mention: Sean Avery. The Stars have paid him nearly $2 million this year and the guy hasn’t done a single thing for us…

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    Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


    As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

    The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

    “Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

    Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

    Suter also had something to say about that.

    “It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

    Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

    For example, at today’s practice:

    The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

    Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

    Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

    Garett Sparks

    We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

    Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

    Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

    “He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

    Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

    Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


    Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

    Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

    — The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

    Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

    Alain Vigneault

    Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

    The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

    He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

    But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

    “Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

    “But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

    Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

    The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

    Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

    Cory Schneider, Alex Galchenyuk ,
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    Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

    From NHL.com:

    Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

    Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

    Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

    As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.