Sunday Funday; Blackhawks best Dallas Stars in opener

Feb 7, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) fights with Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) fights with Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Sunday; 1-2, Overtime Loss vs. Blackhawks

Now that I have had a day to think about it, the hockey spirits handed the Dallas Stars a real snow job on Sunday. Alexander Radulov (lower body) was a late scratch after not participating in practice and Joel Kiviranta was a no-show after rumblings of a possible return versus the Chicago Blackhawks at home.

Adding to the major face palms, goaltender Anton Khudobin became the first Stars player – that we know about – to obtain the full ‘dad’ treatment from head coach Rick Bowness. Handed a game long – at minimum – suspension for missing practice over the weekend.

Do you think he hit Khudobin with a dad joke while handing down his punishment? Like, ‘where did the goalie who was scolded sit during the game’? The blocker room. Get it, blocker.

Jokes aside, this Dallas Stars team has been dealing with adversity all year long. Sunday was no different.

Outside the third line (FCC), all Dallas Stars lines pre-game were new to the ice, at least for the duration of this season. Newcomer Ty Dellandrea on line one. Jason Dickinson on line two. Heck, the third line consisted of three skaters not guaranteed a roster spot once the injury bug starts bouncing the Dallas Stars way.

Dallas has earned a modest four points in their past four contests. While on the backend this appears to be a missed opportunity to squeeze a few more points through, the overall on ice product from Dallas has been strong. Falling by a single goal in three of these matchups, twice in overtime, while handing a resounding defeat to the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Tuesday.

As Blackout Dallas covered earlier this week, now is the time for roster experimentation. Dallas undoubtedly needs to get healthy but we have yet to see Rick Bowness and staff lock in their lines for the long haul over this shortened season.

Unfortunate Line Change

With the puck on the stick of Blackhawks regulation scorer Alex DeBrincat and two skaters up ice in overtime, the Dallas Stars tripped themselves up with a misguided line change. Captain Jamie Benn, head down, skated in off the bench unable to catch up to the bodies moving up ice before DeBrincat to Kane to DeBrincat ends this one.

That is a combination that Chicago fans are going to see a lot of over future seasons.

Alex DeBrincat; Dallas Stars Most Wanted

If you play NHL 2020 on the PS4, it might be the same on the Xbox – I wouldn’t know – and play career mode with a serpentine fantasy draft to select your team, I am about to drop the best #1 and #2 picks on you.

If you manually select to pick 21st-22nd in the first round, leaving you in the Top-10 in the second round; you can choose Alex DeBrincat (whose speed is practically unmatched) and Miro Heiskanen. You might have to back out and restart a number of times as Heiskanen tends to jump around; regardless, you are welcome.

Credited with the Blackhawks regulation goal in the second period and the eventual overtime winner, DeBrincat tied perennial Blackhawks top-liner Patrick Kane for the team goals lead, with six on this young season.

At 23-years-old, he has also been a career hassle for the Stars. Registering a plus/minus of +6 through 12 contests, amassing 10 points in total. Five assists, five goals.

Welcome back, Mattias Janmark

Returning to American Airlines Arena for the first time since signing a free-agent deal with the Blackhawks in the off-season, Janmark has found his legs in Chicago this season tallying four goals and four assists in thirteen short games played.

Dallas was able to keep Janmark off the score sheet.

Where have all the blocks gone?

Obviously, not blocking a puck here and there does not change the outcome of a contest where your team scores a single goal but it is a curious statistic.

Last season the Dallas Stars averaged better than 14 blocks per contest. Through the opening seven games of this season the Dallas Stars averaged better than 14 blocks per contest. In Columbus on Thursday, Dallas blocked a season low six shots. Followed up in this one on Sunday with just eight shots deflected.

Dallas does expect to return Andrej Sekera to the line up on Tuesday, he is good for 2.4 blocks per game on the season thus far.

Jason Robertson; First Career Goal

They aren’t all going to be pretty, OK? In need of a tying goal and their first of the game, rookie Jason Robertson stepped up and into – literally – a wrist shot from the blue line off the stick of Miro Heiskanen. Assists credited to Radek Faksa and Miro Heiskanen, while Ty Dellandrea gets a high five for keeping the puck alive. However, the real assist needs to be credited to Jason Robertson’s rear end. After the game, he chimed in.

"“I knew I felt something off my pants,” Robertson said."

After the wrist try makes it through to the net and deflects off Chicago goalkeeper Malcolm Subban, a goal cutting Jason Robertson looks off in the distance for the puck as it bounces off his posterior and into the goal. Netting his first career goal.

Shades of Denis Gurianov from the 2018-2019 campaign, whose first tally came off his lower leg in American Airlines Arena opposite the Nashville Predators.

Congratulations, kid.

Jake Oettinger; NHL Rookie Goalie Extraordinaire

Remember last season that whenever a goaltending graphic was displayed during a Dallas Stars game it almost always included Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin. Both men ending the 2019-2020 campaign as top 15 goalies in the NHL. Are you ready for a repeat?

Stopping 33 of 35 shots overall, Oettinger jumped none other than Chicago Blackhawks rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen for the GAA (Goals Against Average) lead among first-year goaltenders at 2.27. While Lankinen had Sunday off, it’s unlikely we will see a rookie showdown finale as Anton Khudobin is expected to be let off head coach Rick Bowness’ naughty list for Tuesday’s contest.

Rewatch Value Alert: With just over ten minutes elapsed in the third period, Blackhawks leader Patrick Kane handled a long outlet pass just outside the Stars zone before skating in and grabbing the inside lane on Jon Klingberg. Sweeping to the front of the net, and across, Kane attempted to put a backdoor stuffer in but was denied on the outstretched right-pad of Oettinger.

Radek Faksa; Heating Up

Fresh off a contract extension in the off-season (5Y/$16.25M) that locks him into Dallas through the 2024-2025 season, Radek Faksa has been drawing the ire of some on the internet early in the season.

In his past three games the forward has recorded his first goal and assist of the season, both coming on even strength. His assist coming in this game, prior to the non-recorded assist from Robertson’s back side. Alongside this burst of production is a torrid 63.0% from the face-off circle over his past six games.

Head coach Rick Bowness continues to begin contests with Radek Faksa and the infamous FCC line; Stars fans have nothing to worry about here.

Jamie Benn; Punches-Punches-Punches

It took eight contests and change but the Dallas Stars are off the shrinking list of NHL clubs without a fighting major on the season. Just minutes into the second period, in a scoreless game, Jamie Benn showed his ‘old man strength’ off to Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

Following the belief on the ice that his aggression was in retaliation to a hit that Zadorov made on rookie and line mate Ty Dellandrea, the Stars captain had a quote worthy response after the game for his reasoning.

Despite a record amount of COVID cases to begin the season; we did it first, NHL. On top of mounting injuries and the experiments of a mad genius in Rick Bowness, the Dallas Stars are off to a 5-2-2 start, facing down seven straight contests at home. With Andrej Sekera returning on Tuesday, the Stars have no players currently under COVID protocol.

Expect to see Khudobin back in net when the Stars meet the Blackhawks tomorrow. Also, be on the lookout for a Joel Kiviranta sighting. *I cannot cross my fingers any harder here*