Another home game for the Dallas Stars resulted in two more point for the boys in black last night. While the results are hard to argue with, how they are being reached is still keeping the optimism at a low level amongst the fans. The Stars played their way to a 3-2 win last night against the visiting St. Louis Blues, and by doing so have started the season off 3-1 with a perfect 3-0 record at home to start off the year. Here are some of my thoughts and opinions from during the game and after:
Dallas did jump out onto the ice with more energy and fresher legs tonight after the lackluster effort throughout on Monday night. A day off on Tuesday was very welcome after starting the season off with three games in four days. While that happens during the season, doing so to start the season when a lot of these guys only played one or two games a week during the preseason probably had them worn out right off the bat. The coaching staff giving them a day off was most likely welcomed with open arms. It showed. The Stars came out possessing the puck better and looking good right away. While it did not result in an early goal, the energy was needed and going down out of the gate would have been bad.
The special teams was special tonight where they really needed it, but lacking where we all want to really see it. The penalty kill was again stellar, killing off 5-of-5, and Kari Lehtonen was again a big part of that. That guy is carrying this team right now, and if he keeps this up will not be ignored by the national media for too much longer. The PK guys gave him a little more help tonight and I saw some guys constantly trying to block shots, and I’d venture to say they had more tonight then Monday and last Saturday combined. The Stars got a boast and special teams goal late in the 1st, but of the rare variety (true that could mean the PP right now). Loui Eriksson corralled a loose puck that got poked loose by Steve Ott and took off on a breakaway, ending it by sliding it five-hole on Jaroslav Halak. Loui has come out of the gate with a few points and tonight played a great game even after the goal. But the area that still concerns all of us is the powerplay, and tonight there were not any answers. Brenden Morrow netted a powerplay goal in the 2nd that made it 3-0 for the Stars right in front of the net, but after that the PP was again dead. While the powerplay did go 1-for-5 and that is respectable some nights, it was how they looked. The one game off of a pinball style goal and the rest of the night the Stars continued having troubles getting the puck in and producing quality chances. Mike Ribeiro has produced a couple of assists in the season and a gorgeous penalty shot winner Monday, but on the powerplay things are out of sync. We should continue to monitor this as hopefully it improves, but if not the Stars will have issues winning against top-tier teams when they will need to use every PP chance to try and even things up skill-wise.
The game tonight became a story of two games. Through the first 35 mins, the Stars controlled the game for the most part and built a 3-0 lead. Then they immediately gave up a goal (which was a solid goal for the Blues and one of determination), and it felt like they left off the gas a little bit and St. Louis seized their chance right away. Through the 3rd the Blues out-chanced, out-shot, and out-played the Stars for the most part. The Stars pulled out the win again because of Kari Lehtonen and a good PK effort. This could be troubling as this is something the Stars of the past few years have done, but almost everyone talked about it right after the game and I really think once St. Louis finally got things clicking the Stars had to just fight them off.
Finally, the Stars need their top line to show up soon. Page Ribs, someone call Michael Ryder, and remind Morrow who he is. Because although we have seen little flashes from each of them, that line as a whole has been the Stars 3rd best line this season so far. The “2nd scoring” trio of Eriksson-Benn-and Ott or someone has produced a couple of goals and provided more chances, which is fine with the talent there rivaling the top line. But the 3rd line led by Vernon Fiddler and Radek Dvorak has been on almost every time and with either Ott on the other wing or Adam Burish since returning to the lineup, they have been far better then the 1st line. Burish added a goal tonight, and all three guys have provided energy and played in key situations and the PK. For this team to keep winning the Morrow-Ribs-Ryder line has to find that chemistry they seemed to have in the preseason and recapture it, and soon. Like against Columbus on Saturday or Tuesday soon.
Of course you can follow me at Twitter.com/BlackoutDallas or new team writer Melissa at http://twitter.com/DalStarsWriter. Feel free to leave feedback and thoughts below, or hit myself or Melissa up online.