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Stars starting to learn what it's like to live in chaos

Dallas has seen its fair share of 'obstacles and adversities' in only a week's time

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- There's a great scene in the film "The Dark Knight Rises" where Bane is explaining to Batman why he will win in any battle between the two.

"You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it," Bane said, oozing confidence and love for the blackness that surrounded him. "I didn't see the light until I was already a man. By then, it was nothing to me but blinding. ... I will show you where I've made my home whilst preparing to bring justice. Then, I will break you."

I've always kind of seen the Vegas Golden Knights like that.

 

[READ MORE: Fedun sees hectic evening rewarded in Stars' overtime loss to Golden Knights]

 

They were raised in chaos and came to embrace a pinball style of hockey in their strobe-light arena and their neon-soaked town. It's how they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season as an expansion team. More times than not, when the puck was ricocheting through the neutral zone, it found its way to a Golden Knight stick.

Far too often, Vegas would get the prime scoring chance that exploded out of an odd bounce.

They have battled to find that confidence this season, but there were glimpses of it on the ice Friday in a 3-2 overtime win against the Stars. When the Golden Knights were surging to a 2-1 lead in the second period, they were making their breaks, earning their bounces. When they took advantage of a bad line change for the Stars in overtime, they were taking charge at the most stressful and intense time of the game.

Video: VGK@DAL: Bowness on Klingberg's absence, OT loss

They really were showing their calm in the face of chaos.

The Stars are getting to be that team this season.

They have overcome a 1-7-1 start. They have overcome a bit of dissension in Winnipeg -- twice. They have overcome the firing of their head coach Tuesday morning. On Friday, the hits just kept coming, as John Klingberg was excused from the game because of a family illness, and Taylor Fedun had to hurry in from dinner at home to jump into the lineup at the last minute.

 

[WATCH: All highlights from Stars' OT defeat against Vegas]

 

Fedun is a perfect example of how the Stars are adjusting to this new environment. He didn't have time to participate in the warmup, so he worked off ice, got his mind ready, and then scored a goal 15 minutes into the game. It was an instinct play, and it's one of the reasons athletes are so incredible.

"It was a good possession and a great shot," said Stars interim coach Rick Bowness. "That's a hard-working goal. You're not going to get a lot of pretty goals in this league, especially against that team, and you've got to get some hard-working goals like that."

Fedun certainly had the muscle memory to slide to his left and snap a shot through a crowd (a move he said he was practicing in his down time as a healthy scratch recently), but he had to find a way to allow his mind to get out of the way in the process. That's a big part of being unfettered in these tense times.

Video: VGK@DAL: Fedun discusses hectic pregame, early goal

"Lots of deep breaths, little bit of adrenaline on my side," Fedun said with a smile. "But, I mean, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what's happening behind the scenes, you've got to be out there and you've got to perform, and that's what matters. So, you know, however you go about doing that, you've got to find a way to get it done."

The Stars are finding ways right now, as they battle through a 17-4-3 push that hasn't seemed near as remarkable as it should. Bowness has moved from coaching defensemen to coaching forwards during the game. He juggled things up in the third period and put Roope Hintz between Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line. That helped produce Benn's tying goal that gave the Stars a point in the standings.

On defense, assistant John Stevens adjusted to the Klingberg news and helped put Fedun in a good place.

 

[PHOTOS: All the best shots from Stars vs. Golden Knights]

 

In the room, Benn, Seguin and the leadership group helped deal with just one more bump in the road.

"Well, we are getting used to it now. It seems like it's just one thing after another around here," Benn said. "We have dealt with it as a group and we will continue to deal with it as a group. With obstacles and adversities that we go through, it has really brought us closer and we will continue to stick together."

And that should help them later in the year. Oh, sure, Bane lost his focus and was eventually killed in "The Dark Knight Returns," but Batman grew from his adversity and found a way to eventual serenity.

Video: VGK@DAL: Lindell discusses Stars' OT loss to Vegas

It's just a movie, of course, and hockey seasons aren't so simple. But a little bad luck can actually help you in a journey that has a long way to go.

This team just made Alexander Radulov a healthy scratch a few games ago. It lost its head coach on Tuesday, and played without an All-Star defenseman on Friday. On Saturday, it will participate in a revved-up game in Nashville against the opponent who will be across the ice on New Year's Day at the Cotton Bowl.

That could be distracting.

Then again, the hope is that all of this stuff will eventually make the playoffs seem like a Tuesday practice in Frisco.

"It's crazy that that was only a couple days ago that we had, you know, the adversity that we were hit with," Fedun said of his coach's firing. "But I think we've got a great veteran group in here, and we were able to go about our business and just try and focus on the task at hand."

Probably more like Batman than Bane, but you get the point.

Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Edmonton Oilers as they return home to American Airlines Center on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!

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, and listen to his podcast.

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