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Fatigue may have been a factor yesterday, but it's not going to be a valid excuse for very long.
The old saying, of course, is that you can't win them all.
The response in my mind is, "Yes, but could we have won this one?"
It's tough to say, given the number of things that went wrong for Dallas. First, and probably most importantly, a huge kudos to Josh Harding, who secured his first NHL win after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. There's no doubt that, when the Minnesota WIld knew he would be in net, they wanted to win that game for him. That additional motivation may have helped the Wild's defense collapse around the Stars that much quicker, keeping them from getting on the score sheet last night.
There were far more factors than that though. Mike Heika accurately describes the kind of hockey we saw yesterday:
Bottom line, the players aren't in game condition yet. That only comes from playing and grinding and resting the next day...and doing it over and over again. It also comes from establishing a nice base over a month-long training camp and then building upon that. And, yeah, from getting to know your teammates _ that helps, too.
Let's face it, the Stars have a hard job here. They pretty much juggled their entire top six forward group and also brought in two new defensemen. They have 40-year-olds on the ice, they have European players on the ice, they have kids who are kind of nervous out there. It's a bouillabaisse of talent that has not had time to simmer.
So you get missed passes, or bad reads, or shots that are flying all over the place...or really just a preseason level of hockey.
That's because this is their preseason. It is. Yes, you will get games like Saturday when the building is full and the energy is high, and skilled players can find moments to shine, but you won't get consistency at the start of the season. And that is scary
Preseason hockey is an accurate title for what we witnessed. Fans could tell the Stars, with the exception of a few players, were very sluggish. As we delve deeper into the season though, that will hopefully disappear. Both the players that stayed at home during the lockout, and those that played abroad will suffer from the adjustment, but they'll get there in time.
Let's just hope it doesn't take them too long.
Coming up in today's links: Another chance to score some free Stars tickets, what really happened as the lockout ended, and you better not even breathe on Ryan Miller.
- Carter Bloodcare is doing a promotional blood drive in February. Those who donate blood will not only receive a Dallas Stars puck, but a buy one get one free coupon for tickets to a game this season. Not only is it a good cause -- a single donation can help save up to 3 lives -- but now you get hockey out of the deal. Follow the link for details. [Carter Bloodcare]
- High praise goes to Cristopher Nilstorp for keeping it a one goal game last night. He proved that he is a capable back up, and the Stars players were thankful that he kept them in it til the very end. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Kari Lehtonen is feeling good after the opening night game. In fact, he was ready to be played last night as well. Hopefully this means he's already past his preseason mode, and ready for some full fledged hockey. [Dallas News]
- Here's an interesting look at the negotiation rooms just as the lockout was ending. The most interesting bit to me was that they did s much drinking during negotiations, there was no beer left to celebrate with as an agreement was reached. Such is life. [Sports Illustrated]
- Here's 5 things you need to know from day 2 of the NHL. Besides Harding's shutout, there was also much celebration from Phoenix Coyotes fans that Raffi Torres was in the stands. [ESPN]
- The ratings came back from opening day of the NHL, and it was the best regular season day in ratings history. And so many people were online watching, that they broke NHL.com for most of the day too. Boy, us fans really know how to stick it to the NHL, don't we? [Puck Daddy]
- Apparently Don Cherry is still upset about the US beating Canada at the World Juniors. Maybe he still doesn't realize that all of the goal scorers for the US were NCAA or played on American teams, and not the CHL? [SBNation]
- The honeymoon is already over in Winnipeg, it would seem. Somehow their fans forgot during the lockout that they still inherited the Atlanta Thrashers. Like it or not, it takes time to go from that to a winning team. [Globe And Mail]
- Finally, if I were Ryan Miller, I would use the refs benefit of the doubt wisely. Once these gifts dry up, it might be hard for him to earn another goalie interference penalty. Today's video of the day shows one called on Philly last night. And the call was absolutely questionable at best. Let me know if you agree.