Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Hockey games that mean something are finally back, and that means so are power rankings that mean basically nothing. I’ll be updating every Tuesday with a look at what the experts think of the Stars, as well as other teams around the league. Let’s see where we rank as the season kicks off…

Actual rank: 19th in league; 9th in West; 3rd in Pacific.
Record: 0-0-1. L10: 0-0-1.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 25 this week; 26 last week. “The blue line is a concern, but there’s not a lot of money to spend.
Of Note: St Louis at 4 this week; 12 last week. “Can’t wait for that season opener at the Scottrade Center. Just hope the roof doesn’t collapse from all the noise. A great market finally gets a team worth cheering for. Talk about a statement with two season-opening wins in Stockholm over the mighty Red Wings.
My thoughts: If even ESPN is worried about it, you know there’s some cause for concern. A Cup contender needs to have at least one of two things: a strong blueline, or an elite goalie. At this point, we definitely don’t have one and we’re twiddling our thumbs while we wait to see if we have the other. Our young guns on the line are constantly improving, but mistakes happen. When they do, Turco needs to be there as our final defense – and he wasn’t last season. As for the Blues, they have the honor of being the biggest jump this week – from 12th to 4th. They’ve got some very talented offensive players rising through their ranks in TJ Oshie and Patrik Berglund, and they added former Star Darryl Sydor to their blueline. Syd joins fellow former Stars BJ Crombeen and Brad Winchester, who give the Blues some grit. They’re definitely a team to be aware of this season. Finally, it’s interesting to note that this is week 2 of ESPN’s power rankings for this season, and they started the Stars at 26th. Wonder where we’ll be ranked this time next month?

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 18 this week; n/a last week. “Wonder what James Neal’s high-end output is; 35 goals, maybe?
Of Note: L.A. Kings at 27 this week; n/a last week. “Super sophomore Drew Doughty scores two points, but is a minus-2 in opening 6-3 loss to Coyotes.”
My thoughts: It’s Neal vs Doughty in the Pacific Division Battle Of The Sophomores, and James Neal is winning. His two goals and even plus/minus bests Doughty’s goal, assist, and -2 plus/minus. On Saturday, Neal reminded us why we loved him as a rookie: he missed an easy open net, banged a few bodies into the boards, and nailed an impossible shot that went straight to the back of the net. Twice. We saw the same thing last season. He gets frustrated and uses it as motivation. With that kind of attitude, 35 goals does seem like a reasonable thing to aim for (pun barely intended). As for Doughty and the Kings, here’s hoping they’re not quite the Cup contender the buzz made them out to be during pre-season.

Yahoo by Ross McKeon
Stars: 17 this week; n/a  last week. “Firing Dave Tippett was a big mistake. Dallas’ loss is Phoenix’s gain. And wouldn’t the Stars be shocked to have the Coyotes finish ahead of them? Just might happen. Either way, Dallas isn’t going to make the top eight in the West for the second straight year. And it’ll be Marty Turco’s last season in Big D.
Of Note: Phoenix at 20 this week; n/a last week. “Watch out here. Everyone thinks the disaster off the ice will make the Coyotes an easy mark. Not so. Dave Tippett is a solid coach who knows the Pacific Division very well. Phoenix is going to surprise even if they don’t finish in the top eight.
My thoughts: Yahoo is new to my round-ups this season. I both agree and disagree with them on their assessment of the Stars. I do think this may well be Turco’s last year – unless he is a maker of miracles and plays Vezina-level hockey all season – but I’m optimistic enough to believe we’ll finish in the top eight. And the reason I believe that is because I think firing Tippett was exactly the right move. It’s hard to judge with just one regular season game under our belts, but so far the Stars seem motivated and cohesive under Crawford. They’re working harder than they have in years, and I think it’ll pay off. As for Phoenix, maybe Tippett is their gain, but Tippett needs to take a more open approach to developing his youth than he ever did in Dallas. Phoenix is a young team, and Tipp prefers to coach older, more experienced players. It remains to be seen if that will be a problem there like it was here. Either way, Phoenix vs Dallas might become a bigger rivalry now than it has been in the past.

So let’s see here. Yahoo has us highest, at 17th. THN has us at 18th, and ESPN has us at a lowly 25th. Clearly, the expectations going into this season are low, at least from the media. I can’t say I’m too torn up about this; the Stars love being the underdogs, and this gives them a chance to blow some socks off. And if they come out of the gate flailing instead of swinging, nobody will be disappointed. Really, it’s a win-win (but fingers crossed for swinging).

At time of publication, Andrew’s and TSN had yet to update their power rankings. I’ll update this post with them as they come out.

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