An Attempt at Analysis 

Rather than try to backtrack and do a game recap for each game so far, here we’ll take a look at where we are after the first 13 games. Long story short, it isn’t pretty.So, should we be panicking? Let’s look at some data here real quick.

13 games into the season, we’re 4-6-3 with a total of 13 points. Currently below .500 and ranked second to last in the Central Division with a game in hand.

We’re at a -13 goal differential.

We’re tied for 18th in the League in Goals For. And probably not shocking, we’re 4th in the League in Goals Against.

Now, to say these numbers are concerning is a bit of an understatement. For some context, at this point last season we were 10-3-0. However, I hesitate to even use last year as any kind of measuring stick. The fact is that we are currently limping along trying to get through games while waiting for players to return to the lineup. At this point it’s almost (almost) comical how injured we are.

Last season, our struggle with defense and goaltending was rightfully scrutinized, especially come playoff time. But we were so successful due to our dynamic offensive abilities. We were able to outscore a lot of our defensive shortcomings (at least during the regular season).

So what happens when you’re lacking in the offense department? Janmark and Hemsky are out for the season, and Eakin is getting closer to returning, but he isn’t there yet. Sharp looks to be getting there after suffering a concussion, but hasn’t practiced with the team yet, and Spezza is still day to day. Hudler…well hopefully whatever virus he’s fighting clears up soon. But anyways, that’s 6 forwards we’re missing. Excluding Hudler, those players combined for 97 goals last season. 97 out of the 267 goals scored total by the team. That’s a little more than a 3rd. And that’s a huge loss I think we’re feeling all too much right now.

And that’s not even getting into our defense. Their inexperience has been exposed and put on display several times already. And our goaltending…well, we know it needs to be better, and we’ve known since last season.

So yeah, things are looking pretty bleak.

BUT.

We are still only 13 games into the season. We all know how quickly a season can change. We will be getting some of our injured players back. Sharp I believe is even meeting the team during their Western Canada stretch. And Spezza looks like he’s ready to jump back into a game any minute. Plus, we know the Stars can play well. We saw it during the St. Louis game, and even during the Chicago games where we lost.

After an 8-2 loss (damn you, Laine), we’re allowed to panic a little bit. But it’s still way too early to write this season off.

So, we’ll take things game by game. See where we are when we get key players back. Hope that Jamie Benn gets hot. And pray our goalies pull through for us. It’s not a lot to ask…right?    

Until next time,

Italia

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Game 2: Dallas Stars @ Colorado Avalanche

Well… The Stars certainly know how to keep things interesting.

Saturday’s loss to the Avalanche was nothing short of a chaotic mess. We’ll go ahead and be fair and say that of both teams. Combining to score eleven goals in the game, the Stars and Avalanche showcased their defense, or lack thereof.

For the first eight minutes of the game, things were great! Seguin scored, and on the power play, within the first minute, Shore got his first NHL goal, things were looking good. And then Colborne gets back to back goals to tie it going into the second. Okay, no big deal. No need to panic yet.

And then we gave up three more in the first seven minutes of the second. Including the third goal to complete Joe Colborne’s first career hat trick. So we have five unanswered goals, and we’ve officially broken the streak of ‘no one scores a hat trick on us’. Yikes.

Things look up when JaBenn and Seguin both score a goal to bring us within 1 going into the third. All right. We can deal with that.

Then the third we get one goal per team and we lose 6-5, despite a really solid effort in the third and a nice power play showing in the last two minutes.

So we’ll go ahead and skip all the negatives for a second because it’s the same old same for the Stars. (Penalties, lackluster defense, shaky goaltending) and talk about some of the more positive aspects of the game real quick.

Powerplay goals! Check those out. After giving up that shorthanded goal in the season opener, it’s nice to see that the Stars can, in fact, score on the powerplay themselves.

We’ve taken some cracks at the sloppy defense, but we had some pretty solid defensive plays in that game. (To be honest I can only remember the one instance where JoBenn sat on the puck to keep it out. And the whole Nemeth fiasco, which I think that goal shouldn’t have counted and Nemeth did a really good job at backing Niemi up, but hey, sometimes things don’t go our way.)

And Kari. Kari had a very strong showing and did indeed manage to stop the bleeding in that game after Niemi let in five. Even though he unfairly will get the L, he played a strong game.

All in all, it was certainly an exciting one. And while it’s a little frustrating to watch our team get outplayed in their own style (speed and offensive power to the extreme), have heart. We still have a pretty strong ability to play catch up. While that certainly isn’t ideal, and if we could stop blowing our leads in the first period (lol please and thank you), I think it speaks strongly about the tenacity of our team. They aren’t going to give up without a fight, and neither are we.

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Landeskog (92) fights for position against Korpikoski(38) (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Season Opener: Anaheim Ducks @ Dallas Stars

Final Score: ANA 2, DAL 4

HOCKEY IS BACK!!!

So yeah, that was mostly a good game. The Dallas Stars are right back at it with their classic heart attack style of play. The first period was pretty terrible. We’re falling into an unusual pattern where we are getting significantly outshot. But despite that, Stars still scored first (on the first shot of the game, no less), and led the entire game. Once the boys got their legs back, it was an easier game to watch. Shout out to Niemi, for playing pretty spectacularly. Especially towards the end of the game when the Ducks were throwing everything they had at him. Let’s hope this dude sticks around.

Casual observations:

Penalties, man. On the bright side, the PK is looking pretty good. Thank you Jordie Benn for allowing the team to test that during your double minor…(which happened after the Captain found himself in the box as well)

On the flip side, the Power Play was downright atrocious. It’s literally the first game of the season, I get that, but I’d rather not go back to the same feeling of dread from last season when we went on the PP due to short-handed goals. It got better as the game progressed, but that was scary.

Our new guys seem to be fitting in quite well. So I am still pretty bummed about Janmark having to miss most, if not the entire season. But if our concern was a lack of scoring depth, I think we’ll be ok. Cracknell and Korpikoski flexed a bit of scoring muscles in their Dallas Stars debut (can I just say I am liking Cracknell more and more?).

Our defense has a new look. The blue line is looking a bit bigger these days. Stephen Johns continues to impress, and the pair of Johns and Oduya is still looking solid. Meanwhile, Ruff used this opportunity to do some experimenting with our other defensive pairs. The game started with Benn-Klingberg, and Hamhuis-Nemeth. Let’s just say that didn’t last past the first period. I particularly liked the Nemeth-Klingberg pairing, but we’ll see what happens when Oleksiak returns to the lineup.

Also, being the season opener, we got to see all the new video presentations along with the team introductions. All I have to say is the production team nailed it, as usual. They also used the opportunity to honor the police officers killed during the attack in Dallas this summer. Two of the families of the slain officers participated in the ceremonial puck drop to a standing ovation. It was incredibly emotional. Kudos to the organization for that. 

1 down, 81 to go. We’re buckling in for a long season, and at this point everyone is on even footing. Well except Auston Matthews, who is already ahead in goal scoring… But like I said. It’s a long season, and anything can happen. All I know at this point, hockey is back, baby.

Stephen Johns sporting the badge on his helmet to honor the police officers killed in the attack this summer.
Adam Cracknell during the post game show.

Preseason Game: Frozen Fury (Dallas Stars @ LA Kings)

Final Score: DAL 6, LA 3

So Las Vegas was fun.
After experiencing the first ever NHL game hosted at the beautiful T-Mobile Arena, I have no doubt that the yet unnamed franchise found itself a nice market.

Thoughts about the game/experience:

This was the first time Caitlynn and I attended a game as the “Away” fans. We were certainly outnumbered in terms of people in LA gear. That being said, I feel us Stars fans made our presence known. We were loud! And we only got louder as the game progressed (that tends to happen when you’re in the lead. Also, alcohol).

All day we had seen a lot of people walking around the Strip in Stars apparel, and even though we were outnumbered, we had a decent showing. I liked the amount of Victory Green we saw.

As far as LA fans go, I didn’t have any issues with them. At least in our section everyone was courteous. There was a rather loud dude behind us that took it upon himself to start a “HEY STARS FANS! YOU SUCK!” chant throughout the game. Which many LA fans took a part in. But by the end he had settled down quite a bit…and honestly it wasn’t that annoying.

The Arena, like I said above, was really nice. My only gripe is that there are not enough exits/entrances. We had to wait quite a bit to get in, and exiting was a bit difficult since everyone was getting funneled into the same exit. Then again, my experience is based on the AAC, where we usually arrive early and stay late, so we end up avoiding most traffic.


We didn’t eat at the game, but there were plenty of options from what we saw walking around. They have a Shakeshack! Plus plenty of options for *ahem* adult beverages (Alcohol. I’m talking about alcohol.)

The Arena is pretty much right on the Strip, so once the game lets out, and beforehand, it’s easy to find some bars and restaurants to pregame or continue the celebration/drink your loss away.

All in all, the game was a ton of fun. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Stars won! I can definitely see ourselves taking a yearly trip to Vegas to catch a game. There has already been some discussion about attending the Vegas Team’s season opener next year…

One Week Out!

We’re officially one week away from the home opener! We’re going to hit up Vegas and the Frozen Fury first, so basically things are good.

Side note, we’re almost done with Team Profiles (ok, Italia is almost done, Caitlynn has had hers finished…). After that fun undertaking, we’re eager to have more content actually pertaining to the Dallas Stars and the regular season.

Stay tuned!

Team Profile: The Edmonton Oilers

Ok, so in recent years the Oilers have pretty much been the joke of the League. Through intentional tanking and a bit of luck, they have managed to score 4 first overall picks in 6 seasons. Despite this, they have failed to rally a contending team. Most recently they drafted Connor “literally Jesus” McDavid with the hope that he single handedly fixes the franchise. I am of course being facetious. I do feel that while they are putting a lot of pressure on McDavid (who, by the way, has only played half of a season in the NHL so far due to getting injured), this offseason the Oilers have made legitimate, albeit unpopular, moves to provide support for their superstar. Who was just named youngest captain in NHL history, by the way.

A brief overview:

  • Located in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference
  • Founded in 1972
  • Located in Edmonton, Alberta
  • Arena: Rogers Place
  • Owner: Oilers Entertainment Group
  • GM: Peter Chiarelli
  • Head Coach: Todd McClellan
  • Captain: Connor McDavid
  • Minor League Affiliate: Bakersfield Condors
  • Stanley Cups: 5

A super brief overview (like, this is so, so general I feel a little bad because it won’t do the Oilers history justice, but I’m down to the wire here…so sorry!)

The Oilers were founded as part of the WHA, and remained in that league until they joined the NHL in 1979. Before that they acquired the then underage Wayne Gretzky from the folded Indianapolis Racers for cash. Gretzky only played one season in the WHA before the team moved to the NHL.

The Oilers lost most of the players from 1978–79 when the NHL held a reclamation draft of players who had bolted to the upstart league as they were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skill players. Originally, Gretzky was not eligible to be protected; under the rules of the time, he normally would have been placed in the Entry Draft pool. However, the owner Pocklington had signed him to a 21-year personal services contract in 1979 and Pocklington used the contract to force the NHL to admit the Oilers and allow the Oilers to keep Gretzky.

As we all know, Gretzky would prove to become the all-time leading scorer. The “Great One”, as he is called, helped lead the Oilers to 5 Stanley Cup Championships.

The Oilers were the first team to win the Presidents Trophy.

The Oilers trading away Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings is still regarded as one of the most shocking and controversial trades in sports history.

During the 2010–11 season, the Oilers introduced the Oilers Octane, the first cheerleading squad for a Canadian NHL team. This was considered an unpopular move by some. Then in August 2016 the Oilers announced they were discontinuing the Octane cheer team as they moved to their first season in the new Rogers Place arena, as well as announcing auditions for a new Oilers Orange and Blue Ice Crew “brand ambassador’ group.

On November 22, 2003, the Oilers hosted the 2003 Heritage Classic, the first regular season outdoor hockey game in the NHL’s history and part of the celebrations of the Oilers’ 25th season in the NHL.

The Oilers did not make the playoffs this past season.

Notable Players:

  • Wayne Gretzky (mic drop, we’re done here)

Most of the hockey world is very much aware of the Oilers recent struggles. As I ranted in the introduction, the Oilers have had a wealth of talent join their team via draft, which is not something that seems to happen very often. They traded one of these talents, Taylor Hall, in exchange for some defensive help in the form of Adam Larsson, and signed free agent Milan Lucic to provide some support to newly minted captain, Connor McDavid. We’ll see what happens, but I do get the feeling they will be poised to show some drastic improvement this season.

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Connor McDavid was named captain of the Oilers, making him the youngest in NHL history (source: Robert Tychkowski)

Team Profile: The Calgary Flames

I personally find the Flames to be a fun team to watch. They are brimming with young talent. Sure they missed playoffs this season, but I think this year they will be a contender.

  • Located in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference
  • Founded in 1972 (as the Atlanta Flames)
  • Located in Calgary, Alberta
  • Arena: Scotiabank Saddledome
  • Owner: Calgary Sports and Entertainment
  • GM: Brad Treliving
  • Head Coach: Glen Gulutzan
  • Captain: Mark Giordano
  • Minor League Affiliate: Stockton Heat
  • Stanley Cups: 1

Here’s some facts/history:

After hastily granting a franchise to the Islanders, the NHL needed another team to balance the schedule out. The new franchise was granted to the Atlanta based group that owned the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. The name Flames comes from the fire resulting from the March to the Sea in the American Civil War by General William Tecumseh Sherman, in which Atlanta was nearly destroyed.

Despite some relative success on the ice, due to financial issues the franchise was sold to former Oilers owner Nelson Skalbania, who relocated the team to Calgary. He kept the name Flames since it fit with the oil town of Calgary.

The new team was embraced by fans and found some success, qualifying for the Stanley Cup Championship in their first season in Calgary. They ended up losing to the Minnesota Wild in Round 3.

In an effort to compete with their neighbors, the Oilers, the Flames scouted talent in new areas not commonly used by other teams. They were among the earliest teams to draft more American talent, as well as European players.

Due to the rivalry with Edmonton, their matchups are known as the Battle of Alberta.

The Flames would always meet the Oilers in the first round of playoffs, meaning that one or the other would usually end up representing the division.

In 1983 the Flames introduced Harvey the Hound. They became the first NHL team to have a mascot.

In the 1986 playoffs, the Flames upset the Oilers in seven games, the only time that the Flames defeated the Oilers in a playoff series during the decade. The series-winning goal came when an errant clearing attempt by Steve Smith ricocheted off goaltender Grant Fuhr’s leg and into his own net. The goal remains one of the most legendary blunders in hockey history.

They won the Stanley Cup in 1989, defeating the Montreal Canadiens in 6 games. This would be the first time an opposing team defeated the Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup on Montreal Forum ice. It also allowed Flames co-owner, Sonia Scurfield to be the first and only Canadian woman to have her name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

The Flames were among the first teams to sign Soviet players. As a result, Sergei Makarov joined the Flames that season and, though already in his thirties, became the fifth Flame to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year. The selection would prove controversial, prompting the league to amend the rules to exclude any player over the age of 26 from future consideration.

The Dallas Stars traded Jerome Iginla to the Flames in exchange for Nieuwendyk. He of course was an integral part of the Star’s Stanley Cup run, meanwhile Iginla still currently holds most franchise scoring records.

Most recently they missed the playoffs despite having made a good run the season prior.

Notable Players:

  • Joe Nieuwendyk
  • Theo Fleury
  • Jarome Iginla
  • Mark Giordano
  • Sean Monahan
  • Johnny Gaudreau
  • Sam Bennett
  • Dougie Hamilton

Recently they have seen the emergence of stars like Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau, and with the addition of Brian Elliott, there is no doubt the Flames will be challenging for playoff spots in the West.

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Johnny Gaudreau and Jakub Voracek during the 2015 All-Star Skills Competition