Prior to their New York road trip, the were the NHLside club have been monitoring the 17-year-old, per The Sun.While Hope has not played for his club’s senior side, he was on the bench for a recent EFL Cup tie.The young left-back is also a target for Middlesbrough.It remains to be seen whether Everto leaders, a team who had spent the first months of the season overpowering teams with their dominant offense. After three straight losses, adding up to five in their last seven, they are left wondering whether their offense-heavy strategy is the right formula for winning a Stanley Cup.
Head coach Lindy Ruff told the media his team’s performance in the 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers was “embarrassing”, something he’d clearly expressed during the game by benching his top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp for the last 12 minutes.
Benn, the captain, didn’t exactly mince words either.
“We played stupid hockey and it’s not good enough. It’s pretty plain and simple,” he said.”
The Stars have scored 146 goals this year, 22 more than the Washington Capitals. That’s the same as the difference between the Capitals and the league’s 17th-ranked offense, the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas is on track for over 280 goals this year, which would be the most by an team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012-13. Benn and Seguin are second and third in the league in points, trailing only Patrick Kane.
But the Stanley Cup playoffs are typically not kind to high-octane offenses. Not since the Pittsburgh Penguins powerhouse of 1991-92 has the No 1 offense won the Stanley Cup. That’s not to say that recent winners didn’t have offensive prowess. Reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks had both Jonathan Toews and the aforementioned Kane, but they also had the No 1 defense in the NHL, which shut down Tampa Bay Lightning in game six. In fact, the past six winners were all in the top five in goals against, with three taking the top spot.
That’s where the Stars have their work cut out. Although they’ve surged to 16th in the league in goals against, a big jump from last year’s 29th, Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers showed what awaits them if their top players go cold and their defense and goaltending can’t stop difference-makers like Rick Nash and Derek Stepan.
After a 6-5 loss to the Islanders on Sunday, Ruff was asked if he was worried if his defense was trending downwards. He sidestepped the question and blamed bad penalties that let the Islanders score two power play goals. After the Rangers game, he singled out his top scorers.
“We need those guys,” Ruff said, referring to Seguin and Benn. “They’re our best players. Most nights they’re the ones who can push you through, and they’re going through a tough spell.”
Last year, Dallas was the only team with a top 10 offense to miss the playoffs. To fix their defensive woes, they brought in Antti Niemi to be their starting goaltender. Although he’s been an improvement over last year’s starter and current back-up Kari Lehtonen, the game against the Rangers dropped Niemi’s save percentage to a pedestrian .913, good for only 25th among all goaltenders.
Still, Ruff didn’t want to put the blame solely on Niemi, who didn’t get much help from his defensemen Tuesday night.
“I thought he made some great saves to let us hang around. We knocked one in, we deflected one in,” he said referring to some of the bizarre goals the team let in. “I think if you look at the breakaway saves and the tough saves he made, he gave us a chance when the game was still 2-1, 3-1.”
The Stars have been a breath of fresh air in a season where NHL administrators have lamented the decrease in scoring, and publicly floated proposals to increase the size of the nets or decrease the size of goaltender equipment. The league average continues to creep towards five goals per game, meanwhile the average Stars’ game has six goals per game. You’re far more likely to see them score six goals, which they’ve done four rs.The locker room were shocked last week over claims the board hired an online PR company to disparage both current and former players critical of the current regime.Mundo Deportivo says Bartomeu met with the squad’s four leaders, Lionel Messi, Sergtimes, than being shut out, which only happened once against St Louis Blues.
But in the playoffs, where series often come down to low-scoring overtime games, opponents will be looking to shut down Dallas’ skilled players. Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ goalie who stopped 21 out of 23 shots against the Stars, explained it best.
“I think against a team like Dallas, the best scoring team in the league, you have to be smart with the puck. Your awareness has to be really high especially in your own end,” he said. “I think we played with poise and awareness. They have some really high-skilled players and if you let them play it’s going to be a tough game.”
Following a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals passed the Stars for the best regular season record in the NHL. Under head coach Barry Trotz, the team has remodeled itself into an excellent defensive team.
A few seasons ago, under Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals were the poster child for trying to win the Cup by playing great offensive hockey. In 2010, they won the President’s Trophy for the best regular season record by scoring an incredible 318 goals, only to be upset in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens and their stellar goaltending. The Capitals let in 233 goals that year. This year, they have conceded the fewest goals, 85, at the midway point of the season.
But the Stars’ style of play has still propelled them to first place in the Central division by eight points, which is a more than welcome change for a team that has only made the playoffs once in seven years. Attendance at the American Airlines Center is up by almost 1,000 and despite the recent struggles, this is still their best start since the Stanley Cup-winning season of 1998-1999.
A Sunday.Sigurdsson, who was one of a number of players to join up with the Everton squad this week, struck the bar and the post after coming on as a half-time substitute at the Stade Saint-Marc in Le Chable.”I think we played alright, a lot of the bofter three road games in four nights, Ruff is hoping the team can regain momentum back in Dallas with a few division games. But he’s worried there’s not enough time to “regroup”, as he put it.
“When you get out of this, you usually need a few days to let your team rest and come out of it, but we don’t have that luxury,” he said.