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According to Ralph: Openers

by Ralph Strangis / Dallas Stars

What to make of these first 2 games then? Obvious observation: Really good for lots of opening night against a really good team but lost – not so good against a retooled and hungry bunch and got what they deserved.

First – it’s early. Like really early. And the Stars are in the NHL’s toughest division and they opened with 2 tough games against divisional foes. That didn’t help.

Other thing that doesn’t help is everybody (and maybe actually EVERYBODY) expects this team to be elite and like right now. They earned their spot in the playoffs last year. The way it works is – they gotta do it all over again.

Funny thing is – through the first 2 games – the pre-season concerns aren’t the ones that have cost them. The defense has held up pretty well. They haven’t given up much, and their goaltending has been good enough to keep them in both games.

But they haven’t won either of them. Why?

Well – this team upgraded their top 6 in a big way – and the power play is supposed to scare the penalty killers into just laying down. Let’s just relax a little on all the hyperbole.

We got a good team here still learning what’s what. They’re built to outskate the opposition – or at least stay with the opposition every night – and score their way out of trouble if they have too many breakdowns or bad goals.

Trouble is – 2 games – they’ve scored 3 goals. Total. And the goal scorers? Trevor Daley, Cody Eakin, and Antoine Roussel. So there’s part of it.

No goals from Benn, Seguin, Spezza or Hemsky. Yet. But they’re comin’. Seguin had 5 shots against Nashville and all of ‘em looked like scoring chances. Benn’s had a couple of flurries in and around nets, and Spezza and Hemsky are getting comfortable and both picked up assists on the power play goal against Chicago. Just wait for it – ‘cause it’s comin’. Good news – goal scorers score – and that group will.

Third line looks as advertised – fourth line too. Defense – very serviceable. Goal? Early – but we know Kari is bank for mid-30’s win total – and Lindback held them in the game in Nashville but had no run support.

Most troubling – blown leads and third-period play. Basically, the Stars led after 2 periods in both games (giving up a goal in the 2nd period’s final minute in Nashville) but were unable to close it out. Some would say they got outplayed badly in both third periods. What’s the line? “One’s a mistake – two’s a trend…” Or something like that.

The fightin’ is rounds is something else people say. Ok – they took some shots early – but a guy wipes off his chin and resets his mitts and gets back in there.

So – let’s tap the breaks, let them work it out. Lindy and the coaches know what they’re doing. The players are the same guys they were four days ago. No knee-jerking here – it’s 2 games.

They’ll figure this out – and you’ll wanna watch.

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