James Tanner: Seven Game Losers To Visit the Gila Arena, Look to Break Streak

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Tonight, in a battle for hockey supremacy, it’s the NHL’s premier event, the Arizona/Texas Classic, an outdoor game played behind the local Arizona high-school (simultaneous to a better attended football game) on roller-blades made circa ’96. Yes, it’s the Stars v Coyotes.

This guy will be there.

Yes, Jamie Been – no longer 8 – and the 4-6-4 Dallas Stars will take on the 6-7-1 Coyotes, which could very well be a battle for the basement of the Western Conference.

Were Edmonton to beat Nashville and Colorado to beat the Islanders, the loser of the Dallas/Arizona game will end up in the basement.

This makes it a pretty important game, because the only way to make the make playoffs from the basement of the West is to get an emergency transfer to the Eastern Conference, where you’d be in second place. (Well, not quite, but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m saying here).

Anyways, tonight’s game will feature the combo of Benn and Seguin, which pretty much makes every game the Stars play worth watching. As always, I am hesitant when the Coyotes have what seems like a favorable matchup against a team that is due for a win. The Stars have lost seven in a row, and they are going to come out tonight and play like a bunch of mad dogs.

Seven games is a long streak, but it’s hard to know what ails them. If they were in Toronto, I would know the problem is Leadership and Culture, but it’s hard to say for anyone else. I suspect maybe they just aren’t that great of a team? That the acquisition of Hemsky may have been over-sold, or that Jason Spezza and my 83-year-old both own similar lumbar support devices?

Who knows?

They may have a weak defense and they may have a bad record, but there is no way the Stars are a team that will finish in the basement. In fact, a quick glance at the standings – MN, Chi, Col, Dal, Az – shows a lot of teams that should be way better than they are.

Recently, Gagner was moved up a line with Boedker and I hope that Tippett keeps it together because I think it’s a line with a lot of potential. However, instead of putting Korpikoski in the wing and playing it less than the Doan/Vermette line, I’d put Hanzal in the middle and play them the most.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Vermette and Doan are 2/3rds of this team’s top line and the team has trouble scoring. Veterans or not, incriminating pictures of Tippett or not, they are second, probably third line players and the sooner the team recognizes that, the better chance they have of salvaging something out of this season.

To be fair, Saturday v the Islanders Vermette and Gagner played the same minutes and Boedker actually had more ice than Doan….let us hope this continues.

Just a note, as it is Remembrance/Veteran’s Day – it’s all good to remember, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take the time to keep yourself informed and to vote.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.