Over the past couple of weeks we've written about how the Stars were a team searching for an identity and consistency. Despite a much better start than last season, this has still been a fairly inauspicious start for the Stars while the team fights to grow comfortable with a new coach and system (I can't wait until I don't have to type that again). The team has had some troubles in shootouts and overtime, but what's been frustrating is that just as it seems the Stars are starting to build upon something and really get going, they take a few steps back and have to start all over again.
After two strong games in which the Stars unleashed 87 shots on goal against some good opposition, they traveled to Minnesota and let a reeling team play much better in every aspect of the game and kill any forward momentum gained that week. After the loss the Stars had four days off, and had to go right back to the drawing board. With a few big games against divisional opponents coming up, there was feeling of unease starting to build among fans; was this team just going through growing pains or are the Stars going to be fighting inconsistency all season?
Marc Crawford shook things up during the short break, switching around the lines and focusing on getting his team to play more physical during practice. The Stars then went on the road and beat the top team in the NHL, notching a big comeback with two third period goals bolstered by brilliant goaltending by Marty Turco.
The key now is to build upon the win. It's nice to be able to beat San Jose in the Shark Tank, where they hadn't lost all season, but the win will count for nothing if the Stars lay a clunker in Phoenix. We've seen the Stars play some great games, but we've yet to see them put a string of great games together.
The Stars can play this two good, two bad game all year long and still find themselves in the playoff hunt. They can scratch and claw each game to gain points to hopefully secure a 7th or 8th spot seed. But if Marty Turco can continue this level of play and if the Stars can play on a regular basis the way they did in San Jose, then we can really start to see Dallas moving up the standings.
Some other quick notes:
- Didn't get to mention this yet, but I'm still trying to figure out what the hell Robidas was doing after scoring his game winning shootout goal. Was that supposed to be the "crane" from Karate Kid?
- This is going to be a tough game to watch, seeing Dave Tippett on the other bench for the first game of the season. Always liked him as the Stars coach, and it's great to see him land on his feet with the Coyotes. I just wish that he could have gone somewhere with a bit more...stability...but at the same time I think he gives that franchise a great chance to stay in Phoenix.
- The 'Yotes are struggling, but expect to see a fired up team tonight. Tippett can say that this is just another game all he wants, but we know he's going to have his team ready to play.
- The Stars are starting to really get hit by the nagging injury bug; with Brunnstrom, Lehtinen and Sutherby out. What's great to see is how this team responds each game, with different players stepping up to fill the gaps.
- One more time, can we all acknowledge that Mark Fistric is doing something that is insanely tough for any hockey player to do, as he jumps back and forth from forward to defense and back again?
- The Texas Stars are 7-0-1-1 in their past nine games after shutting out Rockford last night. We all thought they would be good, but the guys down in Austin are DOMINATING the AHL right now.