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Crucial game for the Stars in Columbus

The Stars take on a struggling Columbus Blue Jackets side at the Nationwide Arena tonight. The Jackets' season is practically over as they currently sit rock bottom of the NHL with just 36 points from 53 games. In contrast, the Stars season is still very much alive, as they continue to fight to break into the top eight in the Western Conference, currently sitting 2 points behind eighth.

Dallas comes into tonight’s game after suffering a disappointing 4-1 loss to divisional rivals Phoenix in Texas on Tuesday. Despite having more shots in the game, they lacked the cutting edge and didn’t finish off the few chances that they created. Dallas have constantly relied on Kar...

Stars show sublime offense in Anaheim

With Jamie Benn being the lone representative of the Stars at the all-star game in Ottawa, the rest of the team enjoyed a much-needed break. The week off allowed the Stars to shake off all of the injuries that they had, meaning they went into the game against their divisional rivals with a full strength team.

The Ducks produced a convincing 4-1 victory over the Coyotes on Tuesday night as they looked to continue their great form of late by beating a fresh Stars team. The first few minutes of the game turned out to be all about the Stars, as some awesome puck movement allowed some great chances at goal, with Benn coming agonisingly close a few minutes in.

However, against the r...

The Neal Deal: Revisited

My first blog here at The Checking Line posed the question: was the deal that sent James Neal and Matt Niskanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Alex Goligoski worth it? At the time, I said yes—on the condition that Alex Goligoski's performance stayed on par or better with his performance in Pittsburgh, and that Neal and Niskanen stayed at par in Pittsburgh. 

Too bad neither of those happened. 

In any case, Goligoski got the approval of the Stars' management, signing a four year, US$18.4 million contract. This move was more than essential, because if that didn't happen, and Goligoski walked on the Stars...let's just say "disaster&...

Struggling Stars Can't Win

The streak has hit five. Ever since the Stars lost Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro at the same time to injury, the Dallas Stars have not won. Benn was placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 14, and recalled Matt Fraser from the AHL. Fresh out of juniors, this player may be someone the Stars actually count on for offense. 

In the span of a week, the Stars have fallen from 8th to 11th in the Western Conference. Amazingly, they sit only four points out of 8th place Colorado with two games in hand.

The problem is several-fold. They can't score without key contributors, they lack focus defensively at critical junctures. Look no fur...

Stars struck by Lightning in Texas

The Tampa Bay Lightning were looking to snap a 6 game losing streak on the road as they travelled to the American Airlines Center to take on the Stars. The tough times continued for the Stars as they were without their top 2 centreman in Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro. Drifting in and out of the playoff spots everyday, the Stars would have been aiming for 2 points going into the game as they were taking on a struggling Lightning side.

The game lacked any sort of flow early on, but Sheldon Souray woke the crowd up with a shot that rattled the iron behind Mathieu Garon in the Lightning net. The first period turned out to be all about Kari Lehtonen, the Stars goaltender, as he produced a ...

A Team Desperate To Shine

The Detroit Red Wings made history last night as they set a new franchise record for consecutive home wins, which is very telling about their performance this season. 

In a dominating display of both offense and defense, the Wings have extended their win streak at the Joe to 15 games. Jimmy Howard earned his fifth shut out of the season and Pavel Datsyuk earned his 700th career point. Last night's victory does not reflect the team's lackluster road performance though. 

"We haven't done as well as want on the road," said Jimmy Howard after last night's win against Buffalo. 

The Wings are only 11-13-0 on the road this season, which ...

Rough Seas Ahead

As if the Dallas Stars couldn't have any worse luck this season, they were hit with two more pieces of bad news. Forward Jamie Benn underwent an emergency appendectomy and is expected to be out for 10 days to two weeks, and forward Mike Ribeiro was placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 7, when he suffered a lower body injury against the Edmonton Oilers.

Benn, the team's leading scorer and only all-star representative, is a huge blow—no doubt about it. Benn has shown flashes of becoming an elite player in this league this season. The Stars' best playmaker, Ribeiro, has no timetable to return from this mystery injury, an...

Exhausted Stars fall to Avalanche

It was a crucial encounter at the American Airlines Center in Texas as the Stars welcomed the Colorado Avalanche. Just a point separated the 2 sides going into the game, both sat just outside the very tight playoff picture.

The Stars landed in Dallas on the morning of the Avs game after travelling out West to face the Ducks and the Kings, where they took 1 win away. Luckily for the Stars, Colorado’s star centre Matt Duchene, who caused a lot of problems earlier in the season, was out of the line-up.

You could tell that the Stars had landed in Dallas several hours prior to face-off as they showed poor puck control and retention, and struggled to match up to the Avs' p...

When Will El Nino Strike?

(Photo Credit: theseoduke/Flickr)

Nino Niederreiter has been playing with the New York Islanders all season long, but the amount of time he has spent on the ice has become somewhat of a concern amongst Isles fans. The 19-year old winger had a very impressive season last year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. His skill, size and vision on the ice allowed the Islanders to feel that he was ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL with the organization envisioning his development to result along the lines of a top-six scoring winger.

So far this year, Niederreiter has become the exact opposite. His season was plagued by injuries from the get-go, forcing him to miss the start of the year with a groin injury he sustained in the pre-season. He came back gradually, but eventually started to show that he was getting his game back by using his size in the corners and scoring his first goal of the season. But another injury, the infamous concussion that was given to him in a game against the Dallas Stars, became another hurdle for the young forward to leap over in his development. As a result, the Islanders have played a total of 39 games on the year; Nino has only appeared in 16 of them.

Impressive Jamie Benn helps Stars to victory

It was all about young Canadian Jamie Benn in Texas this afternoon as he scored twice to help the Stars overcome the struggling Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Benn has hit a great run of form lately and is now seen as one of the best centres in the NHL by many. Rookie Richard Bachman got his first start in net for the Stars since Kari Lehtonen returned from injury.

After the Oilers absorbed some early pressure from the Stars on a great first shift, the opening the period turned out to be quite an even one. Edmonton had a good final few minutes in the first frame and they got a one goal lead as Taylor Hall somehow got a shot to loop agonisingly over the top of Bachman and into the net. With 9 ...