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

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.

game-2
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!

I thought the Injury Gnome was a Pittsburgh thing…

Oh, Jamie Benn needs surgery? The dummy hurt himself training. No big deal, it’s the offseason. Even if he misses the World Cup, he’ll be fine for training camp. All is cool.Wait, now Tyler Seguin is hurt? It’s ok, they’re just taking him out because the tournament is too short for him to recover. He’ll be fine in 10 days or so…wait, a hairline fracture? Well that sucks. But ok, he’ll be back early in the season even if he isn’t ready for the opener. We’re still ok.

Faksa with concussion symptoms. That sounds bad…he’ll be cleared soon, though, right?

Hemsky left the game early… A groin injury? Damn man, that sounds terrible.

Ok, well at least the tournament is over for our guys. Training camp! We made it! Hold up, Eakin got hurt the first day? What the hell? How does that even happen? Now Shore? Dickinson out until early November recovering from hip surgery? Ok, maybe I’m getting a little concerned now…

Ok, Janmark is missing a preseason game. I’m sure he was just given an extra day to recover, no reason to panic about him being pulled from the lineup at the last minute. Hmm, well him being on crutches doesn’t sound too good, but I’m sure it’s just a bump…he’s out 5-6 months?!? 

Holy crap, ok, this is not funny anymore.  

Basically me for the last couple of weeks.

– Italia

Bye, Val…

So it seems to finally be official. After months of speculating on when (or I guess if) the Stars and Nichushkin would be agreeing on a new contract, the RFA has decided to sign in the KHL this season. CSKA Moscow has reported that they have agreed to a two year deal with Nichushkin. The Stars will retain his rights (at least if he comes back before becoming a UFA).

I’ll admit I personally have mixed feelings about this whole thing. First, I am truly disappointed that Nichushkin is leaving. Despite a less than stellar showing this past season, the guy shows that he has some raw potential. The reports that he doesn’t like playing under Lindy Ruff are disheartening to say the least. Ruff’s patented line blender moves probably didn’t do much to help his development. So while I am sad to see him go, I hope he is able to have more time to develop. He claims he wants to return to the Dallas Stars after his contract expires. Hopefully he does and comes back a better player for it. In the meantime, I think the Stars have ample amounts of talent to fill his spot, between newly acquired Jiri Hudler and the up and coming forwards from the AHL. 

So best of luck, Val. Hope to see you again at some point…

– Italia

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