By Martin Iheke
Last Thursday evening, your Dallas Stars opened the new season at home against the Chicago Blackhawks looking to forget about how the season ended last spring at home against the Anaheim Ducks. In the first period, the Stars certainly played like a team that did not care about how last season ended as they outplayed the Blackhawks through the first two periods of the game. They outshot the ‘Hawks, 24-11, and led 2-1 at the 2nd intermission. It would look like the Stars were going to put their foot down in the 3rd period, but Chicago was able to withstand the push, draw a few power play opportunities and convert on one of them to tie the game at 2-2. The game went into overtime and then the shootout, before ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane would slip one by Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen to win the game for Chicago, 3-2.
The result was disappointing, but the Stars ability to come out and dictate the pace for the majority of the game against a fast and highly-skilled Blackhawks team was impressive. “Obviously, we’re not happy with the way we finished, but I think we did a lot of good things,” Stars forward Cody Eakin said. Head coach Lindy Ruff pretty much echoed the same sentiment. “You can’t criticize one guy’s effort in that game because the effort was tremendous,” Ruff said. “I thought we dominated the game for the first 40 minutes, but Crawford was fabulous,” as he continued. In the end though, the Stars did fail to grab two points at home to a divisional opponent and that is something they cannot get in the habit of doing during the season. Their next opponent would be on the road in Nashville to take on the Predators, another Central Division opponent, last Saturday evening. Again, the Stars would get off to another good start scoring the first goal in the first period by forward Antoine Roussel. Then things started to unravel in the 2nd period on. The Predators controlled the neutral zone, frustrating the Stars in not allowing them to use their speed. The Predators would score the next four goals in a 4-1 victory.
After the game, captain Jamie Benn was not going to make excuses on this one. “No, I think we got no excuses in here. We didn’t come out ready to play tonight and they simply outworked us for 60 minutes,” Benn said according to dallasnews.com. “I think it starts from the top. I could have been the worst player out there tonight. I can take a lot of the blame for tonight’s game. We don’t have anyone to follow. There’s really nowhere to go,” as he continued. The first line of Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin has yet to register a point on the season. Newly-acquired forwards Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky have not done much either so these guys need to step up. Instead of looking for the perfect play, they need to worry more about trying to put the puck in the net at all costs. Right now, it is way too early to panic after two games. These guys will eventually get it going but as of now, their play has been disappointing.
The Stars will get back at it on Tuesday night when they head to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. Then they will travel to Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins before returning home to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. Tough schedule ahead this week, but again it is early so let us not hit the panic button at 0-1-1.
10/14 @Blue Jackets 6:00 pm
10/16 @Penguins 6:00 pm
10/18 vs Flyers 7:00 pm