You can't stop Jamie Benn and this may have been the one time in tonight's game someone was able to 'contain' him.
Trust me, it's far from it.
For starters, I try to be impartial in these things despite the fact I am a fan. I try to be a voice of neutral reason when looking back on the most recent game action because I've always tried to have a firm belief that you never get too high when the team is on it's highs and you never get too low when the team is has hit some lows. I try to be for the most part someone who dishes out compliment sandwiches for a post-game spread.
With that all said, it's kinda easy to write bout losses the Stars suffer because while there may have been a bunch of negative stuff that happened, there is always one or two good things that can come from a game. Even the most recent wins are still ok to write about because while they were great to see, a lot of bad habits, play and etcetera can be pointed out as things the team needs to work on and again I can keep my impartiality in place without sounding like too much of a basement dwelling homer.
But as I think back on this most recent game and how the Stars played in it, what the heck do I try to single out as a negative that I wasn't happy to see?
The 0 for 3 power play? Well ok I guess, but the refs were so whistle happy in the second period and the Stars only ended up with just four minutes of extra man time and even that was very disjointed so how can I be overly upset about that? Nik Grossman fumbled a puck that led directly to an Eric Staal breakaway goal? I suppose that's irritating, but Staal is a great player and he can do that to the best of defensemen and goalies so sometimes you just have to tip your hat. Karlis Skrastins took four minutes in penalties? Is that even really worth mentioning let alone getting upset over?
Bottom line, it was as great a road win as any NHL team can ask for and the only reason it wasn't a more lopsided score was because Canes goalie Cam Ward was in all-star form. I can't find any fault with the Stars game tonight.
Then again with three road wins in a row, four overall and a better grip on the Pacific division lead, maybe I just don't want to find any fault with the Stars tonight even if there might have been some there.
More thoughts and three stars after the jump...
- How satisfying was it as a Stars fan to watch this game tonight from the start of the third period onward? Heck, when Jamie Benn scored three minutes into the third we collectively I am sure put our feet up and actually leaned back in our seats. I don't know if the Stars or their fans should get used to this feeling at all being in the ultra competitive west, but as Brad mentioned in the pregame a convincing win like this once in a while really helps the mental state of everyone involved.
- Not that he was playing all that poorly before, but hopefully two goals from James Neal tonight is a sign that he's starting to really get rolling offensively.
- How great is the pairing of Steve Ott and Jamie Benn? One guy will start a play and generate a scoring chance and the other guy will finish it off with a goal. Tonight it was Jamie Benn with lots of hustle to help set up an Ott goal and that they do that kind of thing when they were shorthanded, though technically not tonight as Ott scored his goal even strength, but it did come right after a Stars penalty kill.
- Speaking of the Stars penalty kill, it was a perfect 4 for 4 tonight.
- For a while there Jamie was on the ice with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro and while on the ice at the same time they had virtually complete ownership of the puck in the Canes end.
- Come to think of it, think back to how the Stars D looks when they are being completely dominated (like say the first periods of the St. Louis set) and that's exactly how the Canes defense looked for most of the entire game. It was so beautiful to see the Stars do THAT to someone else's defensive group for a change.
- Tonight had to be a relief for Kari Lehtonen who the first time in a while had some room for error to work with. Not that he used or needed it mind you as he stopped 27 of 28 shots, but in the first period the Canes did manage to outshoot the Stars by two (12-10) and he made some key saves in that frame.
- So that is what a complete 60 minute effort looks like huh? I think I'd like to see more.
- I'm sure Ott scoring made him happy. I'm very sure Ott getting a pound of flesh from Tim Gleason made it even better.
- The Hurricanes 'outhit' the Stars 35-20 in the game.. At first glance you'd think that's awful until you realize that a player doesn't really hit when they control the puck and did the Stars ever have control of the puck as a team tonight. How much control did the Stars have over the puck you ask? Not a single player was credited with a giveaway on the Stars side of things.