Well, last night could have gone better. The Dallas Stars came up against another hot team in the Ottawa Senators and looked generally outmatched in a 7-4 loss on home ice. After watching the Stars find so many ways to win in their past several games, watching them find ways to lose was something of a comedown.
In a bit of foreshadowing that we may appreciate more when it's a few wins behind us, Mike Heika addressed how the Stars have tended to bounce back from bad nights this season during his regular Monday chat on Nov. 23:
Most people are anticipating a drop off in the Stars play, and it seems that the players' focus is to continue getting better. The schedule will soon bring more challenges within the Central Division, but at this point, what could this team do to prevent a multi game losing streak?
Heika: "It already has done it, and I think attitude is going to play a big role. You hate to say they don't play 100 percent every night, but that's just human nature. Some games are bigger than others. So far, the game after a loss has been like a Game 7 for this team. They don't want to start a losing streak, and that's a big reason for them not having two consecutive losses this season. They dig in even harder after a loss. Plus, I think they are deeper overall, and much better in net, and that also should help them from losing too many in a row."
In fact, Heika says, the biggest difference between this season and 2014-15 is in the kind of self-possession that keeps the team from getting down and out in tough situations:
What's the biggest difference between this year and last year['s] team?
Heika: "It's a lot of things, but I think attention to detail and poise. If you watch their sticks and how they block passing lanes, it's night and day from last year. And their defensive positioning is much better. But the key is they have shown immense poise in the third period, and they did not do that last season."
Last night's loss may have been forgettable for a number of reasons, but the Benn brothers teaming up to score this goal was not one of them. ("Double Bennetration" used courtesy of Daryl "Razor" Reaugh.) [Puck Daddy]
Turns out the Stars were the only team putting the D in MDK last night, but the Central Division springs to rampaging LIFE on the night before Thanksgiving. All but one are playing away:
- The Nashville Predators visit the Buffalo Sabres with a 6 p.m. Central start time.
- The St. Louis Blues take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 6 p.m. Central time.
- The Winnipeg Jets travel to the Washington Capitals for a game start at 6 p.m. Central time.
- The Minnesota Wild play the Vancouver Canucks at home at 6 Central time.
- The Senators play the second half of a back-to-back against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver at 8:30 p.m. Central time.
- And the Chicago Blackhawks are in California to play the San Jose Sharks at 9 p.m. Central time.
We're less than 48 hours from Black Friday. The Dallas and Texas Stars are giving you a head start. Proceeds benefit the teams' charitable foundations, so feel good about indulging your fandom. [Dallas Stars Foundation]
The 2016 Ice Girls calendar is available online (and autographed), too. [Dallas Stars Ice Girls]
And these custom Texas Stars Foundation hockey-sock stockings are also customizable with the autograph of your favorite Cedar Park player. E-mail them to find out more.
People just have shopping on their minds this week, including NHL general managers. Frank Seravalli tallies the players definitely or potentially on the holiday stove, including Travis Hamonic, Patrick Marleau and Ryan Johansen. [TSN]
The early favorites for the NHL's Jack Adams Award include Stars coach Lindy Ruff, as well as a former Dallas bench boss. [NHL]
NHL chief operating officer John Collins has resigned his position to explore a new business opportunity. Collins was one of the sparkplugs behind the Winter Classic and Stadium Series and helped lead the push to include advanced stats on the official NHL website, among his other accomplishments. [Puck Daddy]
Few guys I've ever met had their eye in the prize like Collins. Had the vision thing so many others lack. #NHL— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 25, 2015
Another day, another Stadium Series uniform reveal, this one for the Wild:
The Texas Stars began a West Coast road trip with a 3-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors last night. Devin Shore tallied his 12th goal of the season and leads the team in scoring.
Future No. 1 draft pick Auston Matthews has made a smooth transition to professional hockey in Europe with a little help from his mom. [NHL]
A little more than a year ago, Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe suffered a series of strokes, one of them major. After two rounds of stem-cell treatments in Mexico, his recovery has been "miraculous," says his son Mark. [NHL]
Finally: Last night was tough, but let's not forget what the Stars have been doing this season. Eyes front, everyone.