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When it comes down to it, the Dallas Stars’ 2013-14 season assessment probably boils down to perspective.
Some will look at the team blowing a two-goal lead with its playoff hopes on the line and feel quite sour. Others will accentuate the positive in the Stars even getting as far as to push the Western Conference’s top team to six (and almost seven) playoff games, even in the first round.
There’s no debating that the Ducks won it 4-2 after a stunning overtime win in Game 6, however.
- Change was in the air for the Stars overall.
- Long-time Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff took over in Dallas and helped the team make it back to the playoffs after edging some stout competition, particularly in the Phoenix Coyotes.
- The Stars drew Detroit Red Wings GM Jim Nill to the Lone Star State with considerable initial results.
- Most importantly, Dallas gave face-of-the-franchise Jamie Benn a partner-in-crime in Tyler Seguin, who proved definitively that he’s a top-line forward in the NHL (if there was any doubt in Boston).
- The Stars even enjoyed a nice bit of early returns in the draft, as Valeri Nichushkin became an immediate impact player.
- The franchise did a nice job giving Kari Lehtonen useful backup support, first with Dan Ellis and then by trading Ellis for Tim Thomas.
- Dallas seems to be mixing wide-open offensive talent in the form of Benn and Seguin with players who have a knack for getting under opponents’ skin, particularly in Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt.
- Ultimately, it likely comes down to how Nill decides to support what’s looking like an increasingly promising core. While Shawn Horcoff enjoyed strong playoff performances, former stalwarts such as Ray Whitney slipped to the point of being healthy scratches.
While the Blues find themselves asking big questions and the Red Wings wonder how many runs are left in them, the Stars seem to face a bright future. Still, the Ducks highlighted that there’s still plenty of work to do.