I don't want to get carried away here or anything, but as I sit here on my easy chair and tune into the opening game in New Jersey, I catch myself pumping my fist a bit.
I said on the radio today that I was bracing for a 4-1 loss or something similar as is the usual case when the Stars visit New Jersey (or pretty much any decent team on the road in these last 2 seasons).
But, that effort on Friday night was most impressive. A 4-3 Overtime win which showed me great competing from the troops and perhaps we have begun to see what Joe Nieuwendyk preached this offseason about what Dallas Stars hockey needs to be.
Plenty of hitting. Plenty of digging in the corners. Plenty of skating back to smother attacks from the enemy.
It is just one night, but if they can bring that more often than not, we may have a little something to smile about.
I especially enjoyed the fine work of the Stars best line over the last 3 seasons - Brad Richards centering Loui Eriksson
and James Neal. Those 3 have great chemistry and certainly can fill the net with pucks on their night. But, some of us have noticed a trend in the wrong direction from those 3 on the road. When the opposition can get the matchup they want with their checking line against the Richards line, the Stars have seen their #1 group disappear on some road nights. That certainly didn't happen in New Jersey.
Then, the abrasions came from the other 3 lines. Ribs with Morrow and Burish showed me some nice things - including the 1st Goal. Then Wandell with Benn and Ott were strong. And finally a real 4th line with real 4th line personality - Sutherby, Peterson, and Segal. That is what I need. Skill guys have a place in this world and not everyone has to grow hair on their chest, but I need 3 dudes who are ready to rumble on that 4th group. Those 3 look ready and Barch will no doubt do his part when the call is made.
I doubted whether this group can play that style. Sometimes you have to change out the pieces to change personality. I expect we will need to see plenty of that, but on night #1 there was plenty to like. Kari Lehtonen
needed some nice stops at the right time. He also needed a nice boot save from Robidas. But, for the defense to allow 2 goals in the first 8 minutes and then to pretty much tighten the screws the rest of the day, I believe we should be quite pleased with that.
On to Long Island. This is only 1 of 82. But, in the early season, we needed some optimistic things to happen quickly for everyone to feel good and buy in.
Can the Stars be scrappy night in and night out? If they can then they have a fighting chance.
This is a real nice start in the right direction.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
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