Goaltending and special teams. The Stars know what they're doing for the former, but what of the latter?
Special teams were not on the menu Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Fort Worth as penalties during scrimmages were automatic penalty shots for the wronged party, but power play work began Sunday morning and saw its first live action last night against the Blues.
Early returns, and they are very early, were promising with Dallas scoring twice in three opportunities.
Sergei Gonchar figures to be a big part of the Stars man-advantage but was not suited up last night, so the picture was definitely incomplete, but another potential big contributor was present and accounted for in Tyler Seguin, and he made his presence known with a goal and an assist on the job.
The first power play unit consisted of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Erik Cole, Alex Chiasson and Alex Goligoski.
"It's definitely something we're going to look at, yeah," Ruff said of the four-forward look. "We like it with the personnel we've got. We looked at it this morning, we thought that would be our best choice."
The puck movement was refreshing in its quick, decisive nature - Something that's been sorely lacking in recent season.
"There was a lot of passing going on," Seguin said of his power play goal from Erik Cole. "Just a couple of good passes and when I got the puck back on my stick there wasn't a goalie in the net anymore."
The first period success came when Tyler Seguin moved the puck to Alex Chiasson below the goal line in the near corner, who immediately relayed it to Erik Cole nearby in the slot. The shot was perfectly placed in the top of the net, but easy generation of the chance was the impressive part.
Chiasson looked comfortable distributing the puck a number of times last night, and if it's a part of his game that continues to develop he could get real looks on the power play even with a full lineup thanks to his right handed shot, which is still in short supply.
Consider also that Ray Whitney, another right shot, was awarded a point on 10 of Dallas' 29 power play goals last year, and also figures to be a player here.
"I'm not afraid to use one of the forwards on the back end if it gives us an off-hand shooter on the power play," Ruff continued. If you look at those options - that east/west where either guy can one-time and their goaltender had to respect that cross-ice pass. We don't have to hesitate, and it's on Seguin's tape and in the back of the net."
The Stars last regularly (they used it a little last year) used a four-forward look in Brad Richards' final season with the team in 2010-2011 and surrendered what should have been a league-worst 15 shorthanded goals against, but the Tampa Bay Lightning were even more inept giving up 16.
Dallas improved what had been a franchise and league worst power player in 2011-2012 (following the departure of Richards...) to the 18th best last year with 29 goals and and even 17% success rate, though they still struggled to get pucks on net with only 1.49 shots per two minutes of power play time.
Special teams work should be a big player this week as the team resumes practice tomorrow after a day off, and games coming Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
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