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Deep In The Heart of Texas

NSFW - THAT Full Metal Jacket Clip

I didn't see that movie until OAC English. Dear God, what a crazy flick. The Dallas Stars actually have a weird third jersey with horns on it that would likely confuse the homophobic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Anyway, the Leafs take on the Dallas Stars tonight fresh off of their best win of the season. I exchanged a trio of questions with Brandon Worley of Defending Big D, SBN's enemy territory for the evening, in the build up to the game. Questions are after the jump.

Next Game

Toronto Maple Leafs
@ Dallas Stars

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009, 8:00 PM EDT
American Airlines Center

Who Sits, and Who Skates? Leafs Still Undefeated Since Win

Complete Coverage >

 We haven't received many updates on Fabian Brunnstrom in Toronto which just means that he hasn't become a 50 goal scorer yet but how is last year's biggest Swedish signing progressing?

Brandon: To start the season it appeared he was seriously regressing. He didn't appear completely comfortable adjusting to the North American game until the final month of last season, when he started to play on the top two lines on the right wing. He show hunger for the puck and a pretty good affinity for putting the puck in the net.

Yet a coaching change and offensive philosophy change over the summer seems to have set Brunnstrom back a bit. In the offseason we wrote that he was deserving of top six minutes, based on his play last year. Yet he was woefully underwhelming in training camp and the preseason and didn't give the new coaching staff any reason to give him more minutes. He's started the season rotating between the third and fourth line.

His biggest issue is that he's seemingly lost confidence in himself and isn't strong on the puck. He's too easily muscled around on the boards, a big issue for a winger. Yet he's started to find his groove lately and is starting to create good scoring chances; he's showing a newfound tenacity for the puck and is starting to put shots on net again, although he still only has 13 shots so far this season. He's being overshadowed and outplayed right now by faster and hungrier players, such as James Neal and Jamie Benn.

Steve Ott - Dirty Player or Dirtiest Player?

Brandon: There's a misconception out there that Dallas Stars fans love Steve Ott no matter what and will defend anything he does on the ice. Not true. What frustrates fans is that we know he can a better player than just an agitator. He walks a fine line between annoying and dirty, and when he crosses it we go through what we've seen the past few days. He is offensively gifted and needs to use his physicality and attitude to create scoring chances, not try to take the head off the other team with a late hit. We like it when he uses big hits (clean ones) to get the team into the game, and it's obvious the Stars play with more of an edge when he's on the ice. But he needs to learn he's useless if he's suspended.

All of that being said, the NHL's version of punishment is a joke. I understand Ott is a 'repeat offender', but fining Rob Scuderi and suspending Ott for nearly identical hits is unfathomable, especially considering that Colin Campbell's reasoning was that Scuderi's hip check didn't result in injury (not true) and that hip checks are part of the game. Whatever.

I ask this as a Liverpool fan because I know that your team is also owned by Tom Hicks: are we both screwed? Is he going to destroy a storied franchise with a long history of success and championships as well as the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers?

Brandon: As the Dallas Stars owner, and that alone, he's done a pretty damn good job. He's allowed his general managers to build their teams and they've been successful. The Stars have only missed the playoffs twice since he's been the owner. What's more, is he personally took it upon himself to get things moving in a new direction after last year's disappointing season and brought in a new general manager, which no one saw coming. Until this season, the Stars have been one of the more freely spending teams in the NHL and are one of the top teams in the league as far as revenue goes.

But, the overall financial difficulty he's going through is affecting all three teams, and that's tough to deal with. He's adamant that the finances of the Texas Rangers and Liverpool have no affect on the Stars, yet here we sit $10 million below the cap in dire need of a #1 defensemen. Mattias Ohlund would have been nice.

Hopefully the sale of the Rangers solves these problems. As a Liverpool fan myself, it'd be nice not to see them be the running joke of the EPL any longer. The big win over ManU helped a bit.

Oh yeah, there was a pretty big game on Sunday wasn't there. In case you missed here, revel in its glory: