The Dallas Stars arrived in Toronto with their 9-2-0 record and the hockey media world descended greedily upon them. Monday was littered with tweets and articles about their start, their captain, their young defenseman - ESPN, TSN, Sportsnet, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, and the CBC. All the heavy hitters.
It was the Stars' turn to step into the light and take a bow they had to that point so richly deserved.
And they lost to the worst team in hockey thanks to a big performance in net by James Reimer and too many missed opportunities at the other end...no team had fewer wins entering play than the 1-7-2 Maple Leafs. Who now have two.
No time to dwell, however, as the Stars must now face what is actually a pretty darned good team in the Boston Bruins, 6-3-1 and winners of their last four. They were at rest while the Stars toiled and traveled last night.
Dallas was challenged defensively with one of the league's worst offensive threats last night. Now they get the league's best offense in Boston. A gaudy 3.90 goals per game for the Bruins bests even the Canadiens at 3.85, thanks in no small part to their league-best 35.3% power play.
So unlike the Stars' untimely penalties last night in the third period, the aim should be to stay out of the box at all costs lest you feed the beast in their own arena.
Their high-powered offense is backed by an absolutely stingy run on the other end. They've allowed just two goals against in their last 180 minutes of hockey. They're giving up next to nothing on this run, including holding opponents to 26 or fewer shots in three of their last four.
That stellar goaltending has come not only from Rask, but from former Detroit Red Wing and Toronto Maple Leaf Jonas Gustavsson, who allowed just one to the Lightning (no small feat) on Halloween night.
Goal scoring. Defense. Goaltending. They have it all going on, and they get the Stars on no rest. Can I still make Halloween jokes?
They're lead in puck possession numbers by Loui Eriksson and an unreal Corsi percentage of about 60% in all situations. Close behind are Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci. On defense their possession monsters are Torey Krug and Colin Miller.
Given the aforementioned possession numbers and the talent up front it's not hard to see that they have a few lines that can give opponents fits.
Will the Stars have enough left in the tank to weather the storm that surely approaches? Does Kari Lehtonen, as he presumably gets the back-to-back start?
We'll find out if they can somehow avoid their first losing streak of the season just after 6pm local time.
From Stars PR:
ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SEA
The Dallas Stars play the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday night for the club's first back-to-back games of the season. The Stars went 1-1-0 against the Bruins during the 2014-15 season and have won two-straight games at TD Garden. Dallas defeated Boston, 5-3, on Feb. 10, 2015 in the most recent game of the series. The Stars captain Jamie Benn recorded two goals (2-0=2) and forward Vernon Fiddler tallied a shorthanded goal (1-0=1), with defenseman Jason Demers adding an assist (0-1=1) with a +2 plus/minus rating. Demers tallied assists (0-2=2) in both games against Boston while with Dallas last season.