Texas Stars Mailbag: Jason Dickinson, early surprises, and the goalie situation

Jason Dickinson kicks a soccer ball before a Texas Stars games earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Jason Dickinson kicks a soccer ball before a Texas Stars games earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Welcome to another edition of the Texas Stars mailbag. Today we’re looking into Jason Dickinson’s play, the goalie situation, and the playoff structure.

Also (shameless plug coming) I’ll be doing an AMA on the Dallas Stars subreddit at 2 p.m. this afternoon. Feel free to come join us.

Let’s get started:

It’s been a pretty smooth transition to professional hockey for Jason Dickinson and it’s started on the defensive end of the ice.

The 20-year-old has been trusted in key defensive zone situations and on the penalty kill. He’s also been willing to throw around his 6-foot-2, 191-pound frame more than I expected him to.

I asked Dickinson about this last week. He said his 200-foot game is what he wants to be known for and it’s how he plans to make the NHL some day.

Playing well in the defensive end has helped Dickinson’s work in the offensive zone. He never lacked confidence — heck, he took five shots on opening night — but he’s found that offensive groove over the past two weeks and he’s riding a three-game point streak into this weekend.

Both offensively and defensively Dickinson knows where he needs to be on the ice. Often times rookies get caught learning the AHL and adjusting to the speed of the game. Dickinson, on the other hand, hasn’t looked like a rookie with his positioning.

1. Gemel Smith is not in the dog house, not even close. He missed back-to-back games this past weekend because of family matter he was attending to.

2. Brennan Evans hasn’t been a disappointment. Frankly, when the team is off to the best 10-game start in franchise history you can’t label any player as a disappointment.

Evans has been a key cog in the locker room and has helped many of the younger defensemen adapt to their roles this season.

Maxime Lagace has been one of the biggest surprises, but I’ve already written at length about him. So let’s go with Matej Stransky.

Stransky was a scratch on opening night and may have been in the conversation to start the season in the ECHL. Now, Stransky is tied for third on the team in points with nine, even though he’s only played eight games.

You can read a bit more about Stransky’s success in my weekly notebook tomorrow (shameless plug).

After this past weekend, the team wants to improve it’s first period play, but that’s the extent of the problems right now — a couple slow starts they’ve overcome.

I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.

Once Jack Campbell comes back, the Stars will have three capable goalies in Maxime Lagace, John Muse, and Campbell.

They’ll likely carry three goalies to start and then assess the situation after a couple weeks.

Personally, I’m not sure how Lagace ends up in the ECHL. He’s proven he’s an AHL goalie after his performance in the first month of the season.

Yes, the playoff situation is a bit odd this season. The Texas Stars have 15 points, the most in the Pacific Division, but they’re technically in third place based on points percentage — which is being used since California teams play less games than the rest of the league.

This system is being used league-wide, but has the biggest impact on the Pacific Division. In the other three divisions you can still look solely at points, since those teams will all play the same amount of games.

Teams in the Central Division will be keeping a closer eye on the points percentage thanks to divisional cross over this season. If the fifth-place team in the Central has a higher points percentage than the fourth-place team in the Pacific Division, that Central Division team will make the playoffs.

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