Last night at the end of the game, I tweeted if writing a post game write-up consisting of just 3 and 4 letter words was "kosher." I got quite a few, "yes," answers, so, here's what I came up with. In the style of the late, great George Carlin, I give you the "Seven Dirty Words to Describe Dallas Stars Hockey:"
That last one has been tossed around quite a bit in the last few hours. Many of the people who are using "fire" in conjunction with the Dallas Stars is in regards to the job security of Glen Gulutzan and Joe Nieuwendyk. Now, before more and more people jump on that bandwagon, let me press on the brakes now. I do not believe that Gulutzan and Nieuwy are the problems...at least, not the sole problems. Have they been perfect? Not even close, but I also don't feel that they have done anything to warrant a change at the top.
First, the Stars play right now is pretty much in line with what I thought they'd be. In my preview of the season (http://starsinsider.com/articles/dallas-stars-hectic-schedule-leaves-little-room-for-error--2), I had the team at 4-2-1 (9 points). If the Stars can beat Detroit tonight, they'll finish 3-3-1 (7 points) in the first 7 games of the season.
With that being said, this team is greatly under-performing. Sure, they played arguably one of the best teams in the league (St. Louis) without 3 of their top 6 forwards, but in this condensed season, excuses really are like rear ends. However, to only have 3 power play goals through six games with this offense and skill (even despite missing Jamie Benn for the first five games) is inexcusable. What's worse than that is the number of penalties this team has been taking. This year, the Stars were supposed to be greater skill which puts them in better position to make plays.
With the abrupt end to the lockout which resulted in no preseason and a camp that resembled practices ran by a pissed off coach after a 4-game losing streak, there are going to be mistakes. The problem most fans have that I'm seeing is they are comparing this team to last year's team that had many of the same issues: anemic power play and ill-timed penalties. Rest assured this will fix itself. However, in the mean time, this falls on Gulutzan's shoulders and he needs to jump start the power play and cut down on the penalties in a hurry. That might mean scratching some of the "fan favorites" such as Brendan Morrow and Stephane Robidas.
In regards to the general manager, this is usually a little more difficult to grade. There are so many factors that go into his job. First, if the general consensus is the head coach is a failure, that's an automatic mark against the GM. Since I feel Gully still hasn't really had the opportunity to prove himself with the backing of an owner, the only head coach that was questionable was the only other head coach that Nieuwendyk hired: Marc Crawford. Ok, so that was a failed experiment.
Trades are another factor that weighs into the GM's review. The largest trade that immediately comes to mind has to be the one that sent James Neal to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski. Now, it's easy to see why this trade has many people up in a tizzy. First, they look at Neal's numbers from last season and immediately think those goals would have been scored here in Dallas. Where they fail to look at the whole picture is Neal had the great Evgeni Malkin on his line for much of the season, where if he were still in Dallas, the most he would have seen is 2nd line minutes with Michael Ryder and Steve Ott.
The other thing that blinds fans to this trade is they are still tied to the Sergei Zubov years. Zubov was a very special player, one that will likely never be seen again. Even though Goose would be the first to say he has not lived up to the number one defenseman expectations that he was brought in for, to declare this trade a loss for Nieuwendyk is flat wrong.
Even though it's early, the trade for Derek Roy by sending Steve Ott and Adam Pardy to Buffalo immediately addresses the need for a top-6 forward. Granted, Roy is coming off surgery in the off-season and is currently experiencing the no-training-camp induced groin injury. A trade that even in it's early stages that has to be viewed as a complete steal is the when during last summer's draft, the Stars sent Mike Riberio and his $5 million contract to Washington for a pick and Cody Eakin. At 21 years old, Eakin is already being viewed as one of the brightest stars for the Stars for the foreseeable future.
From there, the final subject for a GM to be graded on of course is the draft. From what I've seen, Scott Glennie in 2008 has been Joe's greatest "bust." From there, the likes of Jack Campbell and Jamie Oleksiak are still be groomed and Oleksiak could very well see time in the top-6 this season. Brett Ritchie has been lighting up the OHL and was a member of Team Canada for this year's World Junior Championships. This last year's number one draft pick, Radek Faksa, who also was on his nation's World Junior squad, has been battling injuries all season until succumbing to a knee injury that will keep him out 4-6 weeks.
So, of all the words above, perhaps "fire" is a little premature. Don't get me wrong; this ominous and uninspired start to the season has focused the microscope a little more on Joe and Glen. But, before we all panic, perhaps I'll switch "fire" with "hope." I'm holding out hope that this small injury issue that's popped up and claimed Jaromir Jagr, Roy and Cristopher Nilstorp will travel to another team. At one point this year, we're bound to see our best players on the ice at the same time. We arguably already have the best goaltender in the league. So, maybe there are other words that can describe Stars hockey: Patience, talent, passionate and will. This team is not going to stop. Their fans shouldn't either.