Dallas Stars: Observations From the First Week of the Season

Monty’s team came out flying and they finally beat a team they had not defeated since 2016. Observations from the first week. Photo Courtesy Dominic Ceraldi

By Stephen Elliott

How about that exciting start to the season? Jim Montgomery’s squad is flying up and down the ice, using their speed and scoring at a high clip. It looks like it is going to be fun hockey in 2018.

Through three games, the Dallas Stars are 2-1. They took two out of three at home exciting the crowd with tons of scoring, aggressive forechecking and, of course, fights. Dallas took Thursday’s opener in dominating fashion, shutting out the Arizona Coyotes while putting up three goals in a 96 second span. It was more of the same Saturday as the Stars put up five goals against the Winnipeg Jets agains their one. The Stars scoring continued Tuesday against the Stanley Cup favorites Toronto Maple Leafs but could not contain the Leafs’ attack, losing 7-4.

The first week of the season can act as a snapshot or foreshadowing of the season to be. The Stars showed some of this play in the preseason but seeing it unfold when the games count is much more revealing. Obviously it is not the be all, end all tale of the season, but you can get a better understanding of the style of the team. Anyway, here are my observations from the first three games of the season.

Nice to see a working power play
Stars fans had forgotten what a good power play looked like. You have to back two seasons to see what a successful pp looked like in victory green. It appears Jim Montgomery has refreshed our memories however.

Dallas ranks top three in power play percentage. They have scored on four of their eight chances so far. The difference? Net presence. Nearly every power play goal has been scored by the player just in front of the goaltender. Whether it is shots towards goal or passes, the man in front of the keeper is ending the play.

Something so simple also looks different about this special teams. Their flow of the puck looks cleaner. Constant movement followed up with brisk passing and shooting are all creating better chances. It is early, but it looks like Monty has found a solution to the recent power play struggles.

The rookie looks like he belongs
It did not take long to notice Miro Heiskanen on the ice. His control with the puck and confident passing makes him seem like an eight year veteran, not the 19-year-old rookie.

Any question about how much he will play seems to be answered. He is on the ice nearly the same amount as John Klingberg and Esa Lindell (all in which are the team leaders in ice time).

He got his first assist against Toronto. In that game had six shots on goal, one in which would have changed the game drastically had the Maple Leafs’ goaltender not made an unbelievable save. I expect some growing pains eventually during the long season for the rookie, but so far so good for young Hieskanen. 

First liners continue to produce, secondary scoring still lacking
The top trio game out the gates hot. Seguin, Benn and Radulov have three goals a piece and assists to go with them. Throw in five points from the Klingberg/Lindell blue line and you have a superb first line.

But that has never been a problem for the Stars. The key is to spread that wealth and so far they are still trying to figure that out. Dallas struggled to get production other lines last season and it has not solved itself in the first three games.

One lone tally from Devin Shore to kick off the season is the only goal from outside the top line. This will become a problem when teams cancel out their top line.

They can beat Winnipeg
Finally. After nearly two years and almost two full seasons, the Stars can celebrate a victory against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Stars took out two years of anger and misery scoring five goals and giving up just one. Before then, the last victory against the Jets was October 25, 2016. In the games leading up to Saturday’s win, the Jets had outscored the Stars 39-16. 

The win is nothing to sneeze at. Winnipeg made it to the conference finals last year and is touted to get back to the playoff this year. Their size and aggressiveness matched up well against the Stars. Just saying the name Dustin Byfuglien makes Stars fans cringe. 

Lets just hope this year will be different against those pesky Lose-i-peg Jets. Here’s the schedule for the upcoming week.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
10/13 vs Ducks          7:00 p.m.
10/15 @ Senators     6:30 p.m.
10/16 @ Devils          6:00 p.m.