Stars-Wild takeaways: Hintz proof that patience pays off
The forward scores in his preseason debut as Dallas edges Minnesota in overtimeby Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Roope Hintz is why so many Stars fans are excited.
Not just because the 22-year-old forward is incredibly fast and incredibly dynamic, but because he represents a future that many want to embrace.
Hintz is a raw talent taken in the second round (49th overall) in 2015. He worked his way up through the Finnish Elite League and then had a solid first season in North America, tallying 35 points (20 goals, 15 assists) in 70 games for the Texas Stars in 2017-18. After that, he was the team's best player in a 22-game playoff run that ended in the Calder Cup Finals.
It was a coming out party, or so we all thought.
Instead, Hintz needed to go back to the AHL last season. He played 58 games for the Stars, and 21 in the AHL. It was a lesson in how important patience can be in the development game.
Now, Hintz could be one of the Stars' better players. He will almost certainly play in the top-six forward group all season and he showed Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center that he will likely create a ton of scoring chances.
Hintz was racing to the net when Denis Gurianov hit him with a pretty pass, and Minnesota goalie Alex Stalock had to make a great save. A few minutes later, Hintz blew by Matt Dumba and flipped in a goal on a play that was about as pretty as you've seen.
Video: Dowling lifts Stars over Wild with OT winner
Sure, it's just preseason, and yes there is a long way to go before Hintz starts posting head-turning numbers, but the potential is there, the confidence is there. And that's exciting.
Hintz and linemate Jason Dickinson have tread similar paths trying to earn a regular spot in the NHL, and both have done that. Now, they hope to increase their impact.
"Of course you get confidence if you be successful and team does good," Hintz said after a 2-1 overtime win Tuesday. "You just have to go and play hard and don't think too much, just play hockey."
Hintz earned that confidence through hard work, and now several other forwards could get the same chance.
Gurianov can go back and forth this season, if need be. Same with Tye Felhaber or Jason Robertson or Riley Tufte or Joel Kiviranta or Nick Caamano or Joel L'Esperance or Adam Mascherin. No more will players be sitting as healthy scratches for long stretches the way that Brett Ritchie, Val Nichushkin and Julius Honka did last season. If they aren't playing in Dallas, they'll be playing in Cedar Park.
It's a great way to get your confidence while developing.
"There's two ways of handling it," Dickinson said of going up and down. "Either you don't handle it well, or you handle it like Roope did and you're a champ afterward. He did a great job with it."
Stars goalie depth will get chance to challenge each other
Video: DAL@MIN: Point stymies Dumba's wrist shot
Stars coach Jim Montgomery said he would prefer to not play veteran goalies Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin during this stretch of four straight preseason games on the road. Instead, he will allow the one-two NHL punch to play the last two home preseason games so they can be ready for the Oct. 3 season opener against Boston.
That means that Landon Bow, Colton Point and Jake Oettinger will get the chance to play a lot during this stretch. Two of the trio are expected to split time in the AHL with the Texas Stars and the other will play in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads.
Both Bow and Point had a nice performance Tuesday to get his preseason started. Oettinger, 20, was solid in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, and he is expected to be on the radar quite a bit this year. The 26th overall pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft, Oettinger just finished three seasons at Boston University, so he definitely has the pedigree.
Point struggled last season in the ECHL and also in Traverse City, but was fantastic Tuesday in stopping all 13 shots he faced.
"Great game by our goaltenders," Montgomery said after watching the duo combine to stop 31 of 32 shots. "Bow was incredible and then Point came in and was outstanding."
So what could this stretch mean to the three goalies who will most likely play most of the year in the minors?
"I look at it as a great opportunity for them to leave a good impression on everybody in the organization's mind about the bright future we could have at the goaltending position."
Dowling takes big step forward
Video: DAL@MIN: Dowling secures OT win with breakaway tally
While younger forwards are in the mix to make the opening night roster, veteran Justin Dowling isn't stepping aside.
Dowling, 29, scored the game-winning goal in overtime Tuesday against the Wild and won 10-of-16 faceoffs. He made smart veteran plays throughout, and that helped Dallas stay calm down the stretch.
"He made plays, he continues to make plays," Montgomery said. "He's someone who won some big faceoffs for us."
Dowling was called up last season, played 11 regular season games and then played in all 13 playoff games. That was a huge boost in confidence for the two-way center.
"I learned a lot," Dowling said. "Playing those playoff games, it gave me a lot of confidence and mad me more comfortable coming to camp, knowing I can do it on the best stage in the most meaningful games. And I think that's given me a little different mindset this year."
Montgomery said he likes how Dowling has matured not only because of his NHL experience, but because he helped the Texas Stars get to the Calder Cup Finals two years ago.
"I just think because of the way he competes and the way he's grown in the last three years with that Calder Cup run they had and also helping us in the playoffs," Montgomery said. "I just think his confidence as a person and his intelligence as an athlete helps him rise to the occasion in those moments."
Like in overtime. Dowling took a pass from Tanner Kero and had an unfettered breakaway.
"It's weird having a breakaway from the blue line in, a lot of time to think about it," Dowling said. "I just went down and tried to look like I was going to shoot right away and wait for something to open up and was able to find something five hole."
Which can help him a great deal in finding a spot on the opening night roster.
"I'm not really looking at that," he said. "I'm just trying to put my best foot forward every day, come to practice every day and put my workboots on. It's just being professional."
Heiskanen, Sekera get first time together
Video: Heiskanen looks to build off a strong offseason
Miro Heiskanen and Andrej Sekera are looking like the top candidates to play together on the second pairing for the Stars this season. They played together Tuesday. Heiskanen logged 21:09 and had two assists. Sekera played 24:32, including 3:13 shorthanded.
"I thought they controlled the play really well, they seemed like had really good chemistry," Montgomery said. "You could see Sekera's hockey sense, because Miro and him seemed to be in sync like they have played for a while."
Dickinson on number shuffle
Video: Dickinson looks to continue success from last season
Dickinson wore No. 16 last season, but he was asked to give that up for incoming veteran Joe Pavelski this season. Dickinson wore No. 11 in the minors, but that was taken by veteran Andrew Cogliano. So he has settled on No. 18.
He said it's no big deal.
"Honestly, it didn't even cross my mind," he said when asked about possibly trying to get No. 11. "They gave me a list of numbers to pick from and I didn't even think about asking about 11. It's just a number to me. If he wanted it and he's happy with it, maybe 11 will be available down the road."
To confuse matters more, Dickinson was wearing Radek Faksa's No. 12 hat when he spoke to the media Tuesday morning.
"They packed up all of the hats already, and I'm having a bad hair day," he said with a laugh.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.