The Dallas Stars continued their winning ways against the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road. That's now 6-1 for the men in victory green. Somehow that's still just good for tied in first place in the MDK division while the rest of the league gets to play Putt Putt by comparison.
How did they accomplish this Herculean task? Let six easy tweets explain the essentials.
1. Oduya with the counterpunch to stop the shot bleeding
Oduya throws the puck on net and beats Fleury, 1-0 Dallas pic.twitter.com/LUsNlk8zSt— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 22, 2015
The Stars were getting manhandled early. The Penguins opened up a can in the early going, netting their first nine shots to Dallas' two. Then Johnny Oduya did his best Russ Tyler impression, and swiftly sailed a knucklepuck to the net that beat Marc-Andre Fleury. If you've heard this narrative before, it's because Dallas knows what it's like to be on the other end of that narrative.
While it''s good to see Oduya put some points on the board, I've enjoyed his calming presence more. I was on the fence when Dallas initially signed Oduya. Oduya seemed too much like a veteran stopgap, albeit a solid one, but an addition that didn't address what fans have considered one of Dallas' needs; a big bodied defensemen who can log tough minutes. Nill didn't waste time pretending these guys linger within the market, so he nabbed Oduya, and it's looked like a brilliant move ever since.
I was never big on scapegoating Trevor Daley. Not even now. But his skittish play, and one-way pursuit symbolized part of Dallas' problem whereas Oduya symbolizes its tranquil rebirth. Damn good stuff sir.
2. You come at the King(Berg), You best not miss
Ok. Soapbox time. Whenever I hear fans talk about "redundancy" on our blue line, why some prospects are expendable as tradebait, or why we need the ghost of Douglas Murray on our blueline or whatever, I feel like I've been clockwork oranged by a bunch of droogs.
If you actually run down the list of "offensive defensemen" on Dallas' blue line, you end up with the back of a milk carton. Or a list of retired Stars players. Oduya and Jason Demers are primarily a stay at home pair. They don't have scintillating shots, or mortiferous bladed maneuvers. But they're solid. Jordie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka can generate possession, but like Oduya and Demers, can't blue chip their way out of mistakes. This is what makes some of our defensive prospects so important. It's also why we marvel at Klingberg's finesse:
That is some next level movement right there. The lateral motion, the patience, and the accuracy speak for themselves. Nill's extension of Klingberg's contract wasn't just good. It was flat out shrewd. In two years, Klingberg's contract will be the envy of league.
3. Dallas finds its second line (for now)
Janmark restores the Stars' 3-goal lead pic.twitter.com/ybryA5jCdK— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 23, 2015
After 17 different line combinations through the first seven games, Ruff appears to have struck gold with the Mattias Janmark -Jason Spezza - Valeri Nichushkin line. Not only did they put up some points, but they were possession gods against the Penguins.
It feels like a great learning experience for Janmark and Nichushkin. Both guys are talented enough to play with Spezza, either finishing chances he provides, or providing chances that Spezza can finish. And Janmark's two way play gives the line a defensive anchor. Nuke has been solid away from the puck, so this isn't to shortchange the big Russian, but Janmark continues to steal the show in subtle but vital ways.
4. Broadcast Bullies
Before that goal, Errey and Steigerwald were arguing that we needed Farnham to fight someone to get a spark...— dan (@gongawhat) October 23, 2015
Yes, you heard that right. When Dallas had a three goal lead, Bob Errey and Paul Steigerwald who do the Penguin broadcasts, all but begged Pittsburgh to have the Hanson Brothers lace up, and bone tomahawk Dallas' star players.
I'm cool with watching a competitive, physical hockey game. If Dallas wants to win in the Central, they're gonna have to prepare because teams like Winnipeg will be wearing their UFC gear. But this was bush league commentary. It just makes you appreciate Razor that much more.
5. Jason Demers heard Steigerwald's personal 'Grito De Dolores'
Demers gets a major and game misconduct for elbowing Bonino, who was down for a while & left the game pic.twitter.com/B9wgTxCUyn— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 23, 2015
I get that Demers was responding to a missed high stick, and maybe all of the ridiculous calls; Radek Faksa in particular was the collateral damage of incompetent reffing. But I feel like I'm in a different universe whenever people start describing this sequence as some sort of hockey play gone wrong by accident (as if this play doesn't happen every game, but without the controversy). Demers plays with an edge. Given his frustration (getting high sticked), and the deliberate motion of his arm, or his peripheral vision clearly focused on Bonino, I don't see how this is anything other than an aggressive play gone right. Ruff even called it "a reaction to being hit". Does it mean I think Demers deserves to be suspended? No. Not every penalty warrants suspension. And Demers got his penalty already.
6. People really like us, and it finally feels justified
If the NHL is a copycat league then I truly hope the Dallas Stars find success because the league would be a hell of a lot more fun.— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) October 23, 2015
The most satisfying thing about last night's win is that the praise no longer feels empty. Instead teams like Anaheim and Pittsburgh are taking it on the chin, which feels good since we hopefully don't have to be reminded that this franchise has missed the playoffs 6 out of its last 7 seasons constantly. Nothing wrong with stating the obvious, but it's nice to see last season looking like the anomaly it was.
Niemi continues his strong, poised play. He also has to have broken some sort of goaltending record at this point; he's outscored the entire Penguins roster two points to one over his last 108: 47 of ice time against them.
Faksa continues to be impressive even without the points. For those keeping Corsi tabs, he played almost as much time against the Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Phil Kessel line as Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn (a little over four minutes to Benn's five), and actually fared better; on the ice for 12 shot attempts against versus 7 allowed
He didn't fare as well against Evgeni Malkin's line, but he's playing exactly as advertised; looks great positionally, hounds the puck, and something else that explains why Ruff had Faksa out there in the waning minutes; wins faceoffs (6 of 9 to be exact).
When your rookies are playing as good as your super stars, you're gonna win games [/Captain Obvious]. Hopefully they can make it five and continue their sweep against the entire Eastern Conference this weekend.