The Dallas Stars are not your typical 0-1-0 hockey team. And even after losing to the Boston Bruins in front of their home crowd on opening night, they found a way to show poise and determination in the face of adversity.
Death, taxes, and gut-wrenching third periods deep in the heart of Texas.
The bad news: The Dallas Stars dropped their opening night contest to the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins on home ice.
The good news: Jim Montgomery’s squad plays like a vengeful green headache.
Lady luck didn’t offer the Stars much on Thursday night, as Blake Comeau, Jason Dickinson, and Roman Polak all exited the ice at different parts of the game, subsequently forcing Dallas to significantly shorten the bench throughout the remainder of this one. Before I dive any further, though, let’s acknowledge that Roman Polak appears to have dodged a scary injury and was doing well at the hospital on Thursday night.
When studying this game, it’s not hard to grasp where things fell apart – aside from losing three players, a painstakingly awful first period spelled doom from the first puck drop. In comical fashion, things began to immediately unravel when former Star and second-round pick Brett Ritchie scored on a rather stoppable wrister for the contest’s first shot just 99 seconds in.
The night grew murkier a few minutes later as Danton Heinen cashed in on Boston’s first power play of the game. Ben Bishop looked shaky and inconsistent in the early portion of the game, and the forecheck quickly broke down. By all accounts, the Dallas Stars began their night knocking off the offseason rust.
And then, the rest happened.
Despite news of Dickinson joining Comeau in the locker room at the beginning of the second period, Dallas awoke to start the middle frame and began their comeback push. They controlled possession better and began generating offensive chances, and aggressive forechecking drove a meaningful style of play. The Stars looked hungry, even in the face of adversity that soon defined the period and game.
Just seconds after Roman Polak was stretchered off the ice, the Stars continued pouring it on. Mattias Janmark found Roope Hintz on a breakaway for the team’s first goal on the year. It was an emotional and exciting tribute to Polak at a time where nobody knew the extent of his condition. The Stars stood tall and struck back and used that goal to continue pushing.
After outshooting the Bruins 9-7 in the second period, the Dallas Stars again cranked up the intensity in the final 20 minutes. Evoked by an undeniable sense of urgency, Dallas threw everything they had at the Bruins. Ben Bishop had some big moments, coming up with impressive saves. The team sent 16 shots on net and continued to generate high-grade scoring chances through the frame. The ice began to noticeably tilt for the home team as the game rolled towards an end.
As the period hurried along, it seemed as though the Stars were on the verge of finding an equalizer, only for Tuukka Rask to repeatedly bail the Bruins out. Despite finishing the game with more shots on goal, hits, blocks, and faceoffs won, the boxscore notes how the Dallas Stars ultimately couldn’t solve the 32-year-old Rask.
So why should you be so excited after this loss? Well, Monty is right – this team proved why last year’s deep playoff push wasn’t a one-hit wonder. The Dallas Stars didn’t let a trifecta of injuries or an early lapse in effort define their night.
"“I love the heart we played with, I love the emotion we played with, and on most nights, we would have been successful.” –Montgomery on his team’s performance on Thursday"
They fought tooth-and-nail to the last second of the game and forced last year’s Stanley Cup finalist into a submissive brand of hockey when it mattered most. We are only one game in, and despite earning zero points, the Dallas Stars took control of a match a game after falling into an early hole and being limited on skaters.
And that should promise to put the league on watch going forward.
Onto St. Louis.