It's still too early to really know what kind of team the Dallas Stars have. But after beating the Florida Panthers last night with a modest come from behind 4-2 victory, it's evident that they're shedding some bad habits. Plus Tyler Seguin finally let Mattias Janmark stop doing the heavy lifting. So it's good to see the best players find their groove. Can they continue this trend in the brutal Central?
1. Radek Faksa's Debut
Radek Faksa on playing against fellow Czech Jaromir Jagr tonight: "I am excited because Jagr is basically my idol. He is my hockey god."— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 17, 2015
I liked what I saw from Faksa. If you look at his possession numbers in the head to head matchups, they weren't great, but we'll give him the obvious break for it being his very first NHL game against Florida's Bjugstad-Smith-Pirri-Ekblad-Campbell line.
Though Ruff's line combinations have become a punchline from fans and observers at times, Antoine Roussel and Colton Sceviour were good wingers to pair him with while playing his natural position. He almost pulled off a Janmark first shift/first goal special too! Roussel made a nice(ish) pass as Faksa drifted deep in the slot. You can see the play at 0:45 seconds into the Stars Rewind highlights. Faksa's offense doesn't get talked about much because of the shutdown role he's been stuck in, but there's more than meets the eye. Off Faksa topic: Devin Shore has five goals in his last seven periods of hockey.
2. Florida draws first blood.
Barkov goal pic.twitter.com/mTa8nBh8Yd— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 18, 2015
And they probably didn't need the help of the refs.
Dallas can't control confusion by the refs. What they can control, however, is awkwardly bad defense. There's actually a moment right when Jonathan Huberdeau passes the pack to Barkov that all four Stars are within a Lord Varys whisper of one another. Cody Eakin and Jordie Benn are the biggest culprits here, thinking they can assemble with their teammates to form one superorganism against Rita Repulsa or something. It doesn't work like that guys. Oof.
3. East on Central Violence
back up goalies pass the time by trolling cc @stheticsbrah pic.twitter.com/lIQDPtVD5f— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 18, 2015
I don't where this bloodfeud stretches back to (this feels farther back than Seguin/Kulikov), but there's no love lost between these two teams. I consider goalie trolling playful, and therefore, immune to criticism. But everything else involved hate in the hearts. Erik Gudbranson's shove on Seguin after the first goal bothered me the most. It was petty as hell, but at least it was just petty. Dale Hunter Gudbranson ain't, and thank the gods for that.
4. Seguin Finally Opens Up the Donut Shop
Seguin goal pic.twitter.com/YHZYclqfkZ— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 18, 2015
Seguin played a fantastic game and has been playing a fantastic game all year. If his shot block against the Tampa Bay Lightning didn't display his effort, last night certainly did. In truth, his defensive awareness is illustrated best when playing center. Granted, I don't want to see Seguin play Vernon Fiddler's role or anything, but it's nice to see. For those that don't know how the goal donut counter works, that's two glazed, and one with sprinkles.
5. Bad Habits vs. Variance Trolls
The Stars have allowed back-to-back goals within a two-minute span in three of the five games this season.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) October 18, 2015
Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason. It's an alarming stat, but that one that requires a massive convergence of elements: the defensive breakdown, the opponent's pressure, the goalie's miscue, et cetera.
However, it does fit Dallas' pattern of being unable to hold a lead.
6. The Bad News: Dallas is still in the Central
"There's a physical cost to playing in this division." Maurice on the Central Division >> http://t.co/IMMbvU7Mq0 pic.twitter.com/NpIIZWYqs5— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) October 17, 2015
Any stumble due to injury, variance, or hockey god retribution could be fatal in a division that currently has four teams tied for 1st place, and five total in the top 8 of the entire league. But they say that iron sharpens iron, so hopefully Dallas is able to make the most of it. If nothing else, they will be prepared come if they pull off the miracle of even making the playoffs in this thresher. But Maurice's point is critical.
For goofy people like me, you may remember the very first UFC's; where a bare knuckle contest could pit a sumo wrestler against a Dutch psychopath, and a Jabba the Hutt stunt double could be locked in mortal combat with a nude steakhouse owner.
They fought three times in one night if they made it through. Sometimes the best fighter didn't win. Why? Because it wasn't a test of skill. It was a test of endurance. It's a sobering thought for Stars fans, but one you might want to be accustomed to.