The Dallas Stars could not salvage a win tonight in Colorado, falling 6-5 at the hands of the Avalanche.
Well, there goes the chance at an 82-0-0 season. The Dallas Stars traveled into Denver, Colorado in search of their first Central Division win of the year. Instead, the hosting Avalanche rang up six goals on the defending Central Division champions and handed them their first loss of the season.
The game started out in full favor of the Stars. Tyler Seguin scored his first goal of the season just 43 seconds in and Devin Shore tallied his first NHL goal at the seven minute mark. But for the 20 minutes that followed, it was all Colorado.
After five unanswered goals were scored, including a hat trick from Joe Colborne, the Avs held the 5-2 advantage. Both Seguin and Stars captain Jamie Benn scored a goal to close out the second period on a two goal run and bring Dallas within one.
Though Dallas went on full attack mode in the third period, they ultimately could not get close enough. Brett Ritchie scored a goal for Dallas to make it 6-5, but the clock ran out before any other scoring could be done. The Stars fell to the Avs, cutting their record down to 1-1-0.
It may be a new year, but it looks as though the Dallas Stars are still trapped using the same philosophy. This way of thinking can best be described as, “Build an early lead and we can coast for the rest of the game.”
The Avalanche once again proved tonight that this game plan STILL does not work, even after so many years of usage.
With 13:00 left in the first period, it looked as though the Avs were truly in for as long and painful a season as most of the analysts and writers predicted they would. With a sudden and unexpected coaching change that occurred just before the beginning of the season, not many were calling for the Avalanche in the top three or even the top five of the division.
So why fear them? The Stars had a 2-0 lead and were rolling with ease. That led to them taking their foot off the gas, and the Avs quickly slammed it in reverse. Five goals later, the Stars were reared back on their heels and it was too late to mount a comeback.
This style of play MUST stop. Everyone says the two goal lead is the most dangerous in the game of hockey, and it is for a reason. If the Stars cannot keep a consistent and gritty style of play for the entire 60 minutes no matter the score, then they are in for a long season.
For once, the Stars are being outdone statistically
With the extremely rare and powerful combination of players that the Dallas Stars own, it’s easy to see why they have been so dominant on the stat sheet over the past few years. Their offense puts up numerous shots, their center core wins the majority of face-offs, their special teams are on fire, and their defense typically turns in a strong effort.
But through the first two games of this year, it looks as though a dramatic shift occurred over the offseason. In tonight’s game, the Stars were outdone in just about every category by Colorado.
The Avalanche outshot them 33-28, won 62 percent of the face-offs, went 2/3 on the power play, went 2/4 on the penalty kill, and outhit the Stars 25-23. Not to mention the final score.
Now of course the Stars are missing two of their best centers (Mattias Janmark and Cody Eakin) who are not only talented in the face-off dot, but also tend to find their way onto the scoresheet on a regular basis. Even in their absence, the Stars still need to be better if they are going to win these early games and build an early handicap.
Goalies are still acting up
If you could pinpoint one primary reason that the Stars won their season opener on Thursday night, it would probably be the goaltending of Antti Niemi. The 33-year-old made 33 saves on 35 shots, which was just enough to effectively shut down Anaheim and give the Stars a 4-2 advantage.
Tonight, however, was a different story. Not even halfway through the game, Niemi had given up five goals on 20 shots faced. He was pulled in favor of Kari Lehtonen, who finished 12-13 on the night but was still handed the loss.
It looks like the goaltending is still very much scattered and still needs to find consistency. Maybe it was just a bad game for Niemi, but it cannot continue to happen. If a team does not have a solid goaltender, they can never reach maximum potential. Plain and simple.
Deja vu could be a good thing
If you’re scratching your head saying, “I feel like I’ve seen this before,” it’s because you have. Last season, the Dallas Stars opened at home on a Thursday night in front of a sold out crowd and handily defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-0.
Two days later, they traveled to Denver to face off with the Avalanche. Colorado would go on to defeat the Stars 6-3, leaving a lot of Stars fans questioning whether the team was truly ready to take the next step.
Over the next few months, the Stars proved that they were most assuredly ready. They put up 50 wins, tallied 109 points, won the Central Division, and were one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals. In other words, it was a pretty successful year.
That could very well be the exact same thing happening here. Though the loss was not as bad this time around, the Stars may need a game like this early on where they can let out all of the negative vibes and fall victim to all of the typical Stars stereotypes. Maybe it had to happen sooner or later, so why not get it out of the way early?
However you look at it, the Stars put up a strong fight but still fell just short. It’s only one game, even if it is early on and against a Central team. Just reboot and get ready for the next one.