The first regulation win of the 2009-10 season was an enjoyable Friday night of Stars hockey in Calgary. The 5-2 win showed us a few things that should be encouraging as we move forward:
1) The most impressive aspect, for sure, would have to be that Alex Auld held up very well in his 1st start. I am not sure how many starts the Stars are thinking of sending him out for, but clearly it is a much more expanded roll than the Tippett/Hull/Jackson regime had in mind last year with Tobias Stephan. Razor said during the broadcast that 30 sounds about right. I wonder about that, because that of course means that he is making more than 1 start every 3 games. It sounds good on paper, but if you think he is not as good as Turco, it is hard to find games for a backup where you don't feel like you are hurting the team.
Auld made 21 saves on 23 shots, including 19 for 19 at even strength, and has a composure back there that is awfully refreshing. I cannot imagine a scenario in the past where the Stars would have had 3 days between games and be up in Canada that Marty wouldn't have received the call for duty, but apparently, this is a new regime running things. And if it works, everyone will be pleased that the Stars may possibly have 2 capable goaltenders.
2) +5 for Stephane Robidas and Nicklas Grossman? Soak that in because you won't see many +5 nights for anyone in this league, especially on the road at Calgary. Solid nights from that pairing that will have to hold up all season for the Stars to have a chance.
3) More impressive showings from the kids - Tom Wandell scored a goal that Calgary backup Curtis McElhinney would certainly like to have back, but I thought Wandell's whole night demonstrated that he is another of the Stars' kids that have an idea or two when the puck is on their stick. As someone who has followed this team closely for more than a decade, I just cannot believe how the Stars have finally transformed into an organization that can find and develop skill forwards. Eriksson, Neal, Benn, Brunnstrom, and Wandell all form a very nice group of kids who appear to be able to help on the score-sheet. I don't mind the muck and grind types, but at some point you need to light the lamp to get the win. I swear that for years, all they had on the farm were grit guys. This is a very nice development. I also like the speed. Wandell and Benn both had moments where the Dion Phanuef and Jay Bouwmeester were turned around. That is no easy task.
A solid 2 points, and now points in all 3 games. On to Vancouver for Sunday Night and then back home. The Stars caught a break against a Flames team that did not play their star goalie, and they were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights. But, they then took the game to them and executed a fine game plan and never trailed.
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