In the 06-07 season, the Dallas Stars were looked at as a great defensive team that had trouble scoring goals. In 07-08, the Stars answered some of those issues with a breakout season from Mike Ribeiro and a career year from Captain Brendan Morrow. Ribeiro completed the season better than a point per game and Brendan Morrow broke the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career. However, the two didn't carry the team just by themselves. Mike Modano doesnt score goals like he used to, although he did hit the 20 goal mark for the 16th time in his career. Jere Lehtinen missed almost half the season, another consistent 20-30 goal scorer, and star blue liners Sergei Zubov and Phillipe Boucher missed 80 games between them. So you may ask yourself, where did the Dallas Stars look to for scoring help? Niklas Hagman.
Hagman completed the regular season with a career high 27 goals and 41 points. He did just about anything and everything to help his team. Hagman is known as a more defensive minded player with an offensive upside, and he proved that this season. He fought hard in front of the net, he was always where he needed to be, and shot the puck better than he did in any previous season. Hagman finished third in goals for the Stars, only behind Brendan Morrow and Mike Ribeiro. Somebody like Nicky Hagman can easily be over-looked when people like Brendan Morrow have career seasons, when Mike Ribeiro gets a brand new contract, and when former Conn Smythe trophy winners are brought in at the trade deadline, ala' Brad Richards. So taking all that into consideration, you may forget someone like Nicklas Hagman during the regular season. However its playoff time, and you cant overlook somebody who scores key goals in key situations like Nicklas Hagman.
Or, could you?
Indeed you can. Nicklas Hagman is scoreless in 7 games played thus far in the 07-08 playoffs. Now, an issue like this may not seem very important when you consider how quickly the Stars eliminated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks had problems scoring goals all year, even with the return of Teemu Seelane, and it was no different in the playoffs. The Dallas Stars outscored the ducks 20-13 in their first round battle for Lord Stanleys cup. But the Stars are now in a semi-final battle with the Pacific Division Champion San Jose Sharks. Now, one could argue that maybe due to lack of chemistry from line juggling and facing off against top goalies in J.S Giguiere and now Vezeina finalists Evegeni Nabokov is no easy task, but if the Stars want to make it through this next round they need Nicky Hagman. The Sharks have a great coach in Ron Wilson, and theirs no doubt in my mind guys like Pat Rissmiller and Marcel Goc will be all over guys like Ribeiro and Morrow the rest of this series. Goals will become much harder to come by. With Sergei Zubovs return up in the air, and Phillipe Boucher expected back "soon", the Stars will look to Hagman for scoring help. It may seem like a lot to ask of a guy who already does all the little things. But if Niklas Hagman cant get out of this scoring slump soon, he may find himself in debate over a 9-Iron or a Pitching Wedge.
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