We got spoiled by the fast early success of last year. The 2015 campaign started 4-1 with the team getting their second loss eight games into the season.
So naturally when you glance at the Stars 2-2-1 record you aren’t that overwhelmed.
The Stars began the 2016 season with a 4-2 win at home against the Anaheim Ducks. Stephen Johns had the season’s first goal in the first period on a back-door pass from Patrick Eaves. Adam Cracknell’s first goal as a Star put the game out of reach in the third. Antti Niemi got the nod in the first game and had a productive 33 saves on 35 shots.
That success was short lived. In the second game, Niemi was pulled in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche after giving up five goals on 20 shots. The Stars rallied around Kari Lehtonen but couldn’t catch up to the Avs six goals. The struggles in Colorado continue as the Stars fell 6-5. Lindy Ruff spoke after the Colorado game and set up the performance of the next game, perfectly.
“Oh no we can tighten it up.”
And that’s exactly what they did. The Stars played sound defense, solid goalkeeping and scratch a couple across beating the Nashville Predators 2-1. Lehtonen stopped 27 on 28 shots and the defensive around him had ten blocks. On offense, the Stars put up 37 shots and got enough passed Nashville’s goaltender Pekka Rinne. It was their most complete game of the season and Ruff talked about the way the Stars controlled the game especially early on.
“I thought we came out and set the tone the first period, played a real sound first,” Ruff said. “Didn’t get rewarded for it but I think it set the tone when we got the number of shots we did. We played a game that will win a lot of hockey games.”
Unfortunately, the success of that game did not carry into their next two games. Against the LA Kings, the Stars scored a late goal forcing overtime. But the Stars only grabbed a point on a controversial overtime goal by the Kings’ Alec Martinez.
Their latest game on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets was an offensive struggle. Losing 3-0, the Stars could not put anything past Sergei Bobrovsky. Lehtonen had another good game only surrendering two goals (the third was an empty netter) on 25 shots.
The injuries continue to pile up on the Stars. Three forwards were placed on injured reserve this week. Jiri Hudler has an undisclosed illness that will keep him out. Ales Hemsky re-injured his groin in his brief return against Columbus. Patrick Sharp has concussion-like symptoms after being hit against the boards in the Kings game.
In their place steps in Justin Dowling and Gemel Smith from Texas Stars (AHL). The Stars are scrambling right now on the injury front. Surviving through the first quarter or so of the season will be a challenge. Let’s see how the young guys perform in this span.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
10/25 vs Jets 7:30 p.m.
10/27 @ Jets 7:00 pm
10/29 @ Wild 7:00 pm