By Martin Iheke
Remember last week when I questioned what type of team your Dallas Stars were? Are they a team that gets up and down the ice with their speed and skill or do they just rely on their goaltender, Kari Lehtonen? After this past week, I think the answer to that question is becoming clearer. The Stars were a perfect 3-0-0 on their recent road trip out East that has sprung nothing but momentum and confidence. They are playing together as a team. They are believing in each other and finally trusting the system head coach Lindy Ruff is instilling. And because of it, they no longer are looking frustrated in certain periods of games when things do not go well. As long as they stick to the game plan, the Stars believe they will be okay.
After their thrilling 4-3 shootout win at the Ottawa Senators last Sunday, the Stars traveled to Boston to take on the defending Eastern Conference Champion Bruins last Tuesday. Of course this was a homecoming for center Tyler Seguin and forward Rich Peverley who played for the Bruins before being traded to the Stars in the offseason. Thinking that the Bruins had given up on them, those two wanted to show the Bruins that they were wrong. The game was tied, 1-1, through two periods, before the Bruins took the lead in the third period thanks to a goal by Bruins forward Milan Lucic. It looked like the Stars were on their way to losing this one, but forward Vernon Fiddler would draw a penalty shot late in the third giving him the opportunity to tie the game, which he did on a spectacular backhand shot. When neither team could end it in overtime, the game went into a shootout and this is where Seguin and Peverley would shine. Both of them got the goals in the shootout to Boston’s one as the Stars would come back to win, 3-2. The Stars could not have scripted the ending in any better in this one for both Seguin and Peverley.
“I think we’re getting better,” Peverley said according to NHL.com. “We’ve definitely come a long way since the start of the year. To come into this building and be able to get two points, I think that’s a big confidence booster for our team. I think we’ve got to keep going and get better,” as he continued. Peverley is right. The Stars stuck to the game plan despite trailing by one goal in the third period in a hostile environment and did not let the Bruins bullying them around.
Next up they would travel to Detroit to play the Red Wings last Thursday, who moved over to the Eastern Conference before this season. Once again the Stars would find themselves in a hole down, 2-0, until late in the second period when forward Shawn Horcoff would score his first goal as a Star to put them within a shot of tying the game at the second intermission. Then in the first half of the third period, the next two goals scored by captain Jamie Benn and forward Pavel Datsyuk might turn out to be the best goals scored by any player in recent memory. Despite, the highlight reels here, the Stars again were trailing late before forward Cody Eakin would tie the game on the power play at three apiece. The game would go into overtime and it appeared another shootout would come our way before Rich Peverley would score the game winner as the Stars got past the Red Wings, 4-3.
“I think our group is building a lot right now,” Peverley said according to NHL.com. “They played well, they have some dominant players, but I thought we did a good job of being persistent,” as he continued. No doubt about it. Once again, the Stars stayed composed and did not shy away from the game plan. They believed that if they could keep the game close that they would have a chance to take advantage of any opportunities presented their way. Now they have won three in a row and four of their six games and are making their move up the standings in the division. Unfortunately, they could not continue the momentum when they returned home last Saturday to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks as they would fall, 5-2. The Stars for the most part played well against the Blackhawks and had a lead in the game twice, but too many times they would make some crucial mistakes the Hawks would capitalize on and it was too much to overcome. It also did not help that almost half the crowd were Blackhawks fans, which is embarrassing to say the least.
Despite the loss, Tyler Seguin does not feel too down about their performance. “They’re one of if not the best team in the league for a reason. We had some opportunities that we need to bury and our power play needs to be better,” Seguin said. “We can take a lot of positives from the last few games and even tonight I thought it was a big measuring stick for us. If you want to say we outskated them all night, I’d say that would be pretty close. We skated and battled hard, but you see why they’re the Cup champs,” as he continued. Overall, this team is heading in the direction. They now know to be a successful team, they will have to continue to be an aggressive group that plays up and down the ice using their speed and skill.
The Stars are in the middle of enjoying a three-day break before embarking on another three-game road trip, this time in Western Canada.
11/13 @ Oilers 9:00 PM
11/14 @ Flames 8:00 PM
11/17 @Canucks 7:00 PM