By Martin Iheke
There was some good news and some bad news this past week for your Dallas Stars. I will start with the good news where the Stars beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, 5-2, in Los Angeles last Thursday night. It was an impressive victory especially after the way they won. The Kings had just taken a 2-1 lead late in the 2nd period when center Cody Eakin scored a power play goal to tie the game at two. The momentum changed in the Stars direction after that and scored three goals in the third period to pull away for the win.
“I thought we played a decent game,’’ Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said according dallasnews.com. “The faceoff circle hurt us. We took in a lot of chances off that. A bulk of their chances and shots were coming off lost draws. We need to do a better job as a group. Coming into a game like this they are a great team. They played strong. You can see why they have such a good home record here. Tonight we got good goaltending and we got timely goals,” as he continued. It was a big win against a divisional opponent as the Stars improved their record to 5-1-0 against their division this season. That was not the only good news for the Stars. The NHL Players Union approved a new realignment format for the NHL to start next season. This would mean the Stars will finally move out of the Pacific Division.
They will play in the new Midwest Division along with the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche. Stars fans will no longer have to stay up late to watch as many divisional road games like the one they had to watch last Thursday night. The Stars players themselves will not have to travel as much and play two time zones away. “Travel distance is big, but really, the start times are the main thing,” Stars president and CEO Jim Lites said according to dallasnews.com. “It’s a big deal to us, and to our fans, and that’s why we’ve been pushing so hard for this,” as he continued.
Now to the bad news, where the Stars followed up last Thursday’s win with a loss Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona, against the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-1. The Stars had an opportunity to tie the game in the third period when they were rewarded with a 5-on-3 power play for about a minute and a half, but could not convert. The bigger story however could end up being a bigger loss for the Stars when center Jamie Benn was knocked out of the game by a late hit from Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. Hanzal appeared to have blind sighted Benn after he shot the puck in the offensive zone. Benn has had a history of concussions so it would not be surprising if he had to miss some time because of another concussion. Hanzal meanwhile will most likely be hearing from the league about this hit.
“I thought it was late but it’s not for me to decide,” Gulutzan said according to the dallasnews.com. Hanzal has had a history of committing this kind of act. According to dallasnews.com, he was suspended one game previously for boarding Kings forward Dustin Brown. This is not the first time Benn has taken a bad hit from a Coyotes player. Last season, Shane Doan was suspended three games for elbowing Benn. Meanwhile, the Stars will have to regroup with or without Benn potentially as they start a four-game home stand with some tough competition. Tomorrow night, they play the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks, then they play the best team in the NHL in the Chicago Blackhawks and then they finish up the home stand by playing the Calgary Flames on Monday night.