The Dallas Stars pulled off an incredibly uplifting victory on Friday night, using a big first period to upend the Ducks 3-1 in the first victory for the "new look" roster. The win is an interesting one, in that it plays with both ends of the emotional spectrum for Stars fans right now and I thought a lazy Saturday morning would be a good time to share some random thoughts on a really fun game.
Sometimes a win is a good thing
So there's this interesting attitude about the Stars fanbase right now, as the team hurdles towards what we believe to be another postseason-less season. With the Stars turning over the roster at the trade deadline and looking squarely to the future, logic says that getting at the very least a top five pick in the upcoming draft would be prudent. For that to happen, the Stars will have to lose most of their remaining games to fall back enough in the standings.
Yet, there is something said about how much this team needed a win, especially after how the last few weeks have gone. The roster we're seeing now may not be exactly what we'll see next season, but what is on the ice now is very much the core with which the future Stars will be built. As such, it probably would be good for actual wins to come along the way as confidence begins to be built in these young players -- and hopefully give Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn a chance to truly make this into their hockey team.
Energy - Exuberance - Chemistry - Speed
These four elements were what led to the Dallas Stars win on Friday night and all four elements have been mostly missing from this team for much of the season -- and the lack of which directly led to two embarrassing losses at home that fueled the 2013 Great Sale that has led to so much consternation and anguish over the past week. On Wednesday, just a day after Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy were traded, the Stars were lackluster and downtrodden en route to a 5-2 loss that seemed to finally bring everyone involved back to reality.
On Friday, the Stars played with a youthful exuberance that has been noticeably absent the past few years; perhaps it's due to the actual "youth infusion" on the roster right now but I think it has more to do with mentality. The Stars, for once, just went out and played hockey instead of gripping their sticks too tight under the grueling pressure of having to make the postseason.
Some people noted this to me on Twitter and it was hard not to take notice -- this also felt like, for the first time, these Dallas Stars truly came together as a team. For much of this season the Stars appeared to be nothing more than a group of individuals on the ice that just happened to be wearing the same jersey. On Friday, in a process that perhaps has been possible because of the tough week and lengthy stay in Anaheim, the Stars resembled a cohesive cluster of teammates.
Lane MacDermid shines once more in limited action
So, perhaps there is more to this Lane MacDermid kid than anyone of realized. Coming to Dallas with the reputation as an "enforcer" type fourth line player with very limited upside, MacDermid has appeared to be focused on proving himself to be more than just what has been the perception thus far in his career. He has a lumbering yet elusive speed to his game, never moreso evident than on his second career NHL goal when he beat two Ducks to the net and flipped a nifty backhand over Viktor Fasth's shoulder.
It was perhaps the best highlight-reel goal of the season for the Stars, from Lane MacDermid.
MacDermid was injured in the game, however, and played just 2:36 before leaving -- although he did finish with two shots on net in that limited action. While he certainly wont' keep up this pace, or perhaps any pace, it's clear that he could certainly be valuable as a speedy, energetic fourth line player capable of laying the body along the boards and dropping the gloves when needed. Certainly not a bad element to have on your team.
Alex Chiasson is the hero the Stars need(ed)
I turned off the game last night thinking about just one thing: Why wasn't Alex Chiasson in the NHL before Wednesday night? The rookie winger has proven to be everything he was touted to be and perhaps more; a physical, speedy right-handed right wing capable of getting to the net and making good things happen. Chiasson came close to a goal a few times on Wednesday and then was finally rewarded for his hard work with a deft goal on a 2-on-2 in the first period.
He would also hit the post in the second period when he deflected a shot from the high slot over Fasth. That seems to be something Chiasson could become something of specialist at -- so far he's shown to be incredibly accurate and deft with his deflection skills both high in the slot and close to the net.
The Dallas Stars could have desperately needed this type of play earlier in the season but it's good to see that perhaps the extra time in the AHL paid off.
If all of the Stars prospects can skate with speed as well as they've been touted, it's clear that the future Stars could be a fairly speedy team. That was on display on Friday night and it's crazy to think of a Stars team that's defined by it's speed. That certainly seems to be where we're headed, however.
Coaching - Structure
I really like Glen Gulutzan but it's becoming more and more clear he's likely not going to last past this season. The Dallas Stars seemed to win on Friday night despite the coaching -- a team-wide effort of energy and aggression overcame the same systemic issues that have been plaguing this team again and again and again the past two seasons.
For the first ten minutes of the game the Stars seemed to be well on their way to a 7-0 loss unless Kari Lehtonen turned in the performance of a lifetime. The Ducks were dumping the puck into the zone and forechecking hard, forcing egregious turnovers time and again as the Stars struggled to move the puck out of the zone.
It wasn't until after MacDermid's goal appeared to wake everyone up that the Stars suddenly came alive, yet instead of maintaining that aggression and energy throughout the game the Stars sat back on a two-goal lead and had just nine shots on goal in the second and third period combined.
What the hell is wrong with Anaheim's boards?