Real games. Meaningful action. Back to work. The Dallas Stars opened their season in fascinating fashion. First, they knocked off presumptive Eastern Conference favorites the Pittsburgh Penguins, then, they fell to earth against a familiar Central Division stumbling block in the Colorado Avalanche. Some good, some bad, some up, and some down. Weird games mean a very, very weird week.
Ales Hemsky (1 G, 2 A, 6 S) - Credit where credit is due. After a year marred by injury and inconsistency, Hemsky needed a strong start to restore Stars fans confidence in his ability to impact games. I don't know that anyone realistically expects this kind of scoring pace to continue, but it's a great start.
Mattias Janmark (2 GP, 2 G, 4 SOG) - Not only has the rookie stuck, he's struck, twice. Janmark has found chemistry with Antoine Roussel and Ales Hemsky right out of the gate. He's diligent on the backcheck and not afraid to drive the opposition net. The capstone, surely, is his first official "Up."
Jamie Benn (1 G, 2 Pts, 3:18 PPATOI) - The Committee acknowledges two points in two games and plenty of icetime (19 ATOI) for the Captain. If there's a downside, it's that last season set such a high standard. Benn has more to give, and will do so as he puts some distance between himself and offseason surgery
Cody Eakin (2 G, 46 FOW%, 2:57 PPATOI) - After all the hub-bub, Eakin has two goals in two games as a member of the Stars' top line. So far he's been good enough to hang with Seguin and Benn. If he can stay that way, it gives the Stars lineup options. The Faceoffs will need to tick up couple of points, but 17 won against 20 lost isn't terrible.
Antti Niemi (2 GP, 1 SH, 3 GAA) - Welcome to the Dallas Stars? A shutout in game 1 was more than even the most optimistic fans could have expected. Unfortunately, getting stuck behind a porous defense in Denver was right in line with where we feared the Stars might be. More them than him, at least for week one. Ask Sidney Crosby why he stays up.
Travis Moen (9:00 ATOI, 3 H, 2 B) - Modest totals, modest contribution, modest player. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the week Moen had.
Vernon Fiddler (65 FOW%, 2:21 ASHTOI, 10:30 ATOI) - A specialist player so far, but one that is ticking all the boxes.
Valeri Nichushkin (5 S, O pts, 2:02 APPTOI) - The focus is on his demotion from the second line against Colorado, but is that fair? Nuke had a great chance against Pittsburgh, and an even better how-did-that-get-stopped redirection in Denver. He's not all the way back, but he's still doing Nuke things. This won't last.
Jason Spezza ( 0 G, 4 SOG, 1 A) - But for a pesky crossbar things might look much rosier. Thing is, Spezza hasn't been bad. He's been asked to step away from the top line and power a trio with a player recovering from injury (Nichushkin) and one completely new to the team (Sharp). A neutral kind of week.
Patrick Sharp (0 G, 0 A, 6 S) - Like Seguin, probably deserves more than the 0 point week he put up. Unlike Seguin, he's still settling in with new linemates and a new team, and has some questions to answer after a (relatively) down season. A goal this week would settle everyone's nerves.
Jason Demers (2 A, 2:12 SH ATOI, 21 ATOI) - He did not wind up with Jordie Benn as many expected. Instead, Demers has found himself partnered with new-boy Johnny Oduya. If we take Pittsburgh, he's up, if we take Colorado, down. That's how you wind up in the middle, friends.
Alex Goligoski (22:30 ATOI, 3 H, 4 B) - There's also an assist on the pile, for what it's worth. This is going to be an important season for Goligoski, and he looked strong against the Penguins. Colorado, though. Woah. When half of your sample size is a debacle, it influences opinions.
Antoine Roussel (1 A, 7 PIMs, 14:00 ATOI) - Actually a +2, which would mean something if it meant anything. Everyone loves the Hemsky, Janmark, Roussel trio these days. It's, like, an it thing.
Tyler Seguin (0 G, 7 SOG, 4:05 APPTOI) - Registered a single shot against Pittsburgh, then 6 against the Avs. Don't let the offensive stumbles fool you, Seguin has been dynamic so far. It's coming.
John Klingberg (1 A, 22:30 ATOI, 3:58 APPTOI) - Klingberg saw 5:12 on the powerplay in Colorado, for all of the good it did. The sumptuous passing, the timely attacks, even a bit of physicality; it's all been there so far this season. A goal would have been nice, though.
Johnny Oduya (0 pts, 1 S, 2:31 ASHTOI) - The announcers are already talking about the "little things" Oduya does on the ice. A few big things would be nice, though.
Patrick Eaves (11:00 ATOI, 1 S, 1 H) - Saw his ice-time jump against Colorado (12:52) as Nichushkin sat large sections of the third period. That feels like what we're going to get from Eaves this year: lower half duty punctuated by as-needed call-ups.
Jordie Benn (16:30 ATOI, 2:48 ASHTOI, 5 B) - The temptation to dig into Jordie's #fancystats is great, but the sample sizes just aren't there yet. Give it another week, but the smart money says he's probably been better than suspected.
Jyrki Jokipakka (4 H, 2 B, 13:30 ATOI) - A few wobbles punctuated a week that went from quiet to catastrophic. Is he more Colorado or Pittsburgh? Time will tell.
Jamie Oleksiak / Patrik Nemeth / Kari Lehtonen (0 GP) - The Scratch Brigade. Pittsburgh tells us this can be a good team, and there's a big risk of getting frozen out of the lineup. Colorado tells us to calm down, cancel the Cup Parade plans, and that there will be plenty of opportunities for players to tag in.