The dress rehearsal was not without it's follies, but if opening night goes anything like this one then the Dallas Stars might be very pleased with themselves when the Panthers depart from Love Field on October 3rd.
After getting out-shot 10-1 in Colorado Tuesday night the Stars reversed the script, not allowing the Avs their first official shot on goal until minutes in, and offered up eight of their own in the first.
Alex Chiasson got the Stars on the board when Alex Goligoski charged into the offensive zone during an Avs change and got the puck to the net, leaving a juicy rebound to pounce on. The period ended with the Stars on a three-minute penalty kill after Ryan Garbutt was leveled Tyson Barrie in the neutral zone and had his night ended early by the officials.
Dallas would kill the penalties but find themselves in trouble when the Eakin/Whitney/Chiasson line failed to clear the puck, gave it away, took an icing after a long, long shift, had Lindy Ruff call a timeout and then took a penalty on the resumption of play.
They survived that too, however, and regained control of the game at even strength. Erik Cole then put them up 2-0 after an ill-advised hip check attempt by a young Avs player allowed him to walk in and roof one over Varlamov from the right circle.
After some shenanigans from Antoine Roussel in the third Alex Goligoski registered his second point of the night with a slap shot from the blue line that eluded Varlomov, and then Alex Chiasson banked one in off a Colorado defender to put the game away 4-0.
Not to be out-done, Valeri Nichushkin made an appearance, scoring a goal that looks like so many of his KHL YouTube clips. He barreled down the right side, cut to the middle and stuffed it past Varlomov on the far side while falling down.
He might only have that one move right now, but it is a heck of a good one.
The Stars move to 4-0-2 in preseason play and will wrap up the exhibition season tomorrow night in Oklahoma City against the Edmonton Oilers.
A couple of thoughts briefly...
Power Play Units:
So there's something that sticks out there like a sore thumb, and it's the number of forwards on each unit. Ruff mentioned after the first preseason outing that a four-forward look was something he was open to. Having it on both units is something not often seen.
The sample size being what it is, it's hard to gauge its viability. No dangerous shorthanded chances against were experienced, and the Stars did score on the power play tonight, albeit off a lucky bounce in front. Either way, it should be an interesting coupe of units to watch this season.
The skill is there in abundance and they believe in Chiasson on that first grouping. That unit, by the way, is completely stacked - Something Gulutzan was unwilling to do, insisting one two equal units that competed against each other.
There isn't much to say, and that's a good thing because Kari looks like early season Kari. I am somewhat hesitant to perpetuate that line of thinking, but it really is going to be the story until it's not any more. For now he looks great, and unfortunately he had to as the game moved on. Figure on Dan Ellis to play tomorrow in Oklahoma City.
You'll hear a lot off opinions about the Ryan Garbutt hit on Tyson Barrie last night, and it's because there was no replay and a lot of first hand accounts of something from different angles. It was sudden, and it was away from the puck.
Barrie was not down for long and continued to play. The officials were adamant in their immediate dismissal of Garbutt from the game, however, including a rare five-minute interference call, which is a new rule of the last couple of years. Whether or not he'll get a call from the league... it's hard to say. If they can get the video from Dallas they might look at it, but the lack of injury and expulsion from the game may save Garbutt there.
The Top Line
I'm starting to think of the Benn and Seguin combination like an ace on a pitching staff. If things are going poorly and they need a reversal of fortune, it looks like it's never more than two or three line changes away. And Erik Cole might have been the best player on that line tonight. If he can keep this up it's going to feel like found gold to a lot of people.
Patrick Roy Boos
The crowd booed him. I liked it. The Avalanche look like they're going to be...up and down this season.