By Pat Hauldren
The Dallas Stars released their modified 2013 season schedule with 48 games total, 18 games against divisional rivals and 30 games against the other conference teams.
The Stars begin their abbreviated season playing against, the Phoenix Coyotes, Saturday night at the American Airlines Center, perhaps with the intention of creating a rivalry game to perk up fan interest and fan dollars. And with a little luck, it’ll work.
Then in the continuing most-traveled-NHL-team vein, Sunday the Stars play the Wild in chilly Minnesota, certain to be a test of endurance as a back-to-back game in their second game of the season.
January has a great line up and one that should pull in the viewers with the Red Wings Tuesday night in Detroit, back home with Chicago Thursday night and St. Louis Saturday night, then off to Ohio for the Blue Jackets and then to Detroit for the Red Wings again the next Monday and Tuesday nights to finish up the month.
The Stars play at home a meager six out of 14 games in February beginning with a Friday game at AAC. Both the home game Friday and the Saturday away game are with Phoenix. All these back-to-back games makes one wonder if there is some kind of mileage contest in the NHL.
Yet, the NHL promised easier travel for all teams with a head-to-head matchups. There are several “series” games, where the Stars play the same team consecutively. This new, modified schedule will “help to keep the Western Conference teams fresh as the season progresses, since that have considerably more miles to go compared to the Eastern conference,” said Trevor Sudbury at Defending Big D.com.
March offers the Stars some odd start times but a generous nine of 13 games at home starting with a 2:00 pm Sunday game against St. Louis at home and ending with a 5:00 pm home game also on Sunday against the Kings.
April for the Stars is a tough one, with only six home games vs. eight away games and two back-to-backs. Anaheim starts the month in Dallas and then we end up with Detroit on a Saturday night.
Road trips are legend on past Stars schedules and this season isn’t much different. Eight games are back-to-back, with one starting the season from home to away. Four sets of back-to-backs are both away games. Four sets are home next-day road games. Unfortunately for the Stars, there are no back-to-back games where both are at home.
Although this season is short and stacked and lack the luster of the Eastern Conference “marquee teams” as Erin Bolen of Defending Big D.com said, the Dallas Stars look forward to a run for the Stanley Cup.
And the best way to do that is to win game one against the Phoenix Coyotes opening night.
Stars former head coach Dave Tippett brings his star player, former Dallas Stars goalie Mike Smith, to town. Tippett is intimately familiar with many of the Stars players and abilities. Bolen said that netminder Smith brings “that forecheck-killing puck-playing ability, the Coyotes have been a big thorn in Dallas’ side for the past several seasons.” Hopefully, the Stars players who remember Tippett will also remember his tricks and tendencies and defend against them successfully.
A positive outlook
“I think you can expect a really exciting team. I think what Joe Nieuwendyk did was he brought in people who fit Glen Gulutzan’s style of coaching,” said Mike Heika on SportsDay On Air on Fox Sports Southwest Monday. Heika contined, “We want the puck. We want you to commit penalties because you’re chasing us instead of we’re chasing you.”
Rick Gosselin told SportsDay On Air on Fox Sports Southwest Monday, “I think this is a playoff team because I love the goaltending. This is a good defensive team and what they needed to do was score more goals and when you add a Jagr, a Whitney and some of these young guys getting a year better, they’re going to score more goals. I think they’re going to be in the mix.
Luckily, The stars have a number of weekend home games, which will hopefully fill AAC because more fans will be able to attend, compared to weeknight games.
The Stars schedule closes with Detroit at AAC on Saturday, April 29.