With only one of eighty-two down, it's too early to say much about this team. I have not yet had the pleasure of opining on the opening night loss in this space, so let me do so briefly now: I thought they played well. The start was not strong, but the game as a whole was.
I agree with Coach Crawfords assessment that if they play that well most nights, they're going to win more often than not. But one game does not an adequate sample size make.
Today on Stargazing, while we wait for the sample size to grow, we'll take a look at Mike Modano's apparent rib injury, Matt Niskanen is looking forward to a better year, Razor Reaugh made a promise he can't keep, and are the Stars even allowed to fly the team charter within Canada on this trip?
Like the Stars on Saturday, Edmonton feels they deserved better in their first contest (a 4-3 loss to Calgary):
"That's a hard way to lose a hockey game," coach Pat Quinn said after dropping his debut with the Oilers. "I guess those things happen. I certainly don't like them or the fact that we lost. I didn't like any one of the goals. Did we do some good things out there? Sure. But we lost the hockey game."
The Oilers play 9 of 14 games in October at home.
Follow the jump for more Stars News and Notes...
And, not to bury the lead, as Brandon Bibb noted earlier today Mike Modano's MRI was negative and he will be flying with the team for the road trip in Canada. [ESPN]
"It's better than it might have been," said Modano, who was hit with a stick late in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to Nashville.
The treatment isn't anything but rest. Modano said he's sore and sometimes the ribs catch him the wrong way when he's walking around.
"There's no masking the fact that he's sore and that it's almost painful to do anything," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "With the MRI, they believe that will subside and how quickly it does will determine how quickly he gets back in the lineup.
Modano looked as good as we've seen him in the last two seasons on Saturday before suffering that injury. Let's hope he is indeed back in the lineup on Friday, and count ourselves lucky for dodging any broken bones or cartilage damage.
Speaking of that trip to Canada, we told you last month of the strange cancellation of the agreement between the United States and Canada that allows sports teams and musicians to operate their charter flights from city to city while out of country.
While the initial issue received significant pub, the resolution did not. All the same, the Stars will indeed be allowed to take their plane between Canadian cities:
The dispute began last month as a spat between transportation regulators in Canada and the United States. It quickly turned into a trade battle with both countries disallowing multiple stops by sports-team charters.
The issue was causing a nightmare for NHL clubs because they would not have been able to play more than one game in the United States or Canada without first returning to their home country.
Under the tentative deal announced by Mr. Harper, the charter flights will resume as before for the upcoming sports season, and Air Canada will drop its suit. Both countries will still be able to investigate allegations of cabotage, but disputes will be handled through negotiation.
You might not have noticed Matt Niskanen much on Saturday, but that's probably a good thing. After a bit of the stereotypical sophomore slump last season, Nisky is looking to up his game: [Dallas Morning News]
"I just went in and worked as hard as I could this summer, and I feel like I am a better player, that I understand things more," said the 22-year-old defenseman, who played in his 159th NHL game Saturday. "I felt that in the first game. I felt more confident."
The confidence showed, as Niskanen played 20:40, had three shots on goal and four takeaways in a 3-2 shootout loss to Nashville. He was not on the ice for a goal against but was for James Neal's power-play goal.
"I thought he looked confident," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "I really sense Matt is embracing how we are playing, and he is embracing what he needs to do to become an effective defenseman in the league."
After Razor brazenly guaranteed a win on the radio last week, promising everyone in attendance free tickets should his crystal ball be proved wrong, he sheepishly (well, as sheepish as a Razor can be) explains to you how the Stars were actually winners on Saturday:
Sadly, many financially strapped and painfully misinformed ticket holders immediately bombarded my text in-box demanding their free tickets following what equated to a tie game with the Stars taking it to the Predators for the majority of opening night at ACC.
What's that? It was not a Stars win as I had guaranteed. Really? Wasn't it?
The Stars outshot the Preds 40-26...win.
The Stars won the 3rd period 1-0...win.
The Stars hit two posts to the Preds one...win.
The Stars won the "knock a player out of the game" 1-0 because Modano came back for the shootout...win
And so on.
You get the picture.
A goaltender telling you that hitting a post is a win? Now I've heard everything.
By signing the two latest deals, here are the Stars current roster players who are under contract next season:
Brad Richards _ $7.8 million
Mike Ribeiro _ $5 million
Loui Eriksson _ $4.25 million
Brenden Morrow _ $4.1 million
Stephane Robidas _ $3.3 million
Trevor Daley _ $2.3 million
Karlis Skrastins _ $1.375 million
Mark Fistric _ $1 million
Jamie Benn _ $821,667
Brian Sutherby _ $812,500
Jeff Woywitka _ $650,000
Now, if the Stars maintain the same budget (about $49 million in cap hit and $45 million in actual cash), that makes things kind of tight for next season.
Basically, just to bring back the exact same roster, the team already has added about $4.5 million in raises for Eriksson (who makes $1.6 million this season) and Robidas (who makes $1.5 million this season).
- The Ducks get booed at their home opener against the Sharks, losing 4-1.
- The Kings left the ice to a "chorus of boos" as well, after Tippett and the Coyotes ruined their party.[Globe and Mail]
- The L.A. Times goes as far as saying that Drew Doughty played "the worst game of his NHL career" on Saturday.
- The Sharks were already considering juggling the lines before beating up on the Ducks. [Mercury News]