The return of the 2014-15 Dallas Stars was thankfully limited to a single night. That's significant. Intangibles are a tricky thing to measure, but think about this: In one night the Stars lost, gave up seven goals, and sent one of their goalies to the IR. How easy would it have been to fold up shop against Vancouver, let alone Minnesota? Two wins later the situation looks brighter.
Listen, there's no way to sugar coat 12 goals against during a three-game stretch. Those are dangerous totals for a team with a defense still in "prove it" territory. It's not sustainable.
But we're not talking about a season.
The Dallas Stars are an elite offense. Sometimes good teams double-down on their strengths to get through tough stretches. It feels like that was what happened last week. Maybe fans should be worried. Maybe Kari Lehtonen doesn't bounce back immediately. Maybe Antti Niemi is starting to wobble.
Thing is, the overall roster is so well constructed, the strengths are so strong, that the Stars should be able to weather the occasional rough patch. In the same way a trap team parks the bus and plays for 1-0, this year's version of the Stars is likely going to win (and lose) a handful of 7-4 tilts. Buckle up!
Jamie Benn (4 G/ 6 Pts / 23:06 ATOI) - The big dog. Captain Benn is the NHL's leading goal-scorer and within snapping distance of Patrick Kane for the overall points lead. This is what locked in looks like.
Cody Eakin (3 A / 51% CF / 56.5% FOW) - The really weird stat, to me, was his usage. Eakin started 64.7 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. For one week, at least, it worked.
Tyler Seguin (2 G / 4 Pts / 15 SOG) - Seguin also notched a shootout winner, for those of you scoring at home. One thing, his finish to finish the Wild was a tough shot to make. The way he manages to get dangerous shots off with bouncing pucks and difficult passes calls to mind Brett Hull.
John Klingberg (4 Pts / 1 PPPt / 4 Blks) - Here's a weird one; Klinger was a plus-6 in terms of overall scoring chances, but a minus-3 in High Danger scoring chances. Here's the thing I like: Yes, Klingberg got badly burned on a couple of goals against this week, but he still had the confidence to throw a video-game okie doke at the Minnesota Wild.
Patrick Sharp (1 G / 3 A / 2 PPA) - On any other team, a free agent sliding as quickly into the overall team concept would be a major story. This year, it's just another good thing that's happening.
Jason Spezza (1 G / 18:12 ATOI / 3:18 APPTOI) - Another gut feeling, but I think a huge part of the Seguin/Benn love-fest is the fact Spezza keeps contributing from other lines, and on the power play.
Jordie Benn (2 A / 5 Blk / 3:12 ASHTOI) - Offensive flair? He is a Benn, I suppose. More notable is Jordie's continued steady excellence along the Stars backline.
Jason Demers (4:18 ASHTOI / 2 GP / 43.2% ZSO) - Missed a game nursing what is thankfully not a serious injury. Averaged 23 minutes in the other two. I did not think he would be this important. Another one of those "any other year" major stories.
Alex Goligoski (1 G / 5 H / +5 Scoring Chance Differential) - Goose checked all the boxes this week. He was a physical, shot-blocking (3 Blks), positive-possession player (50.7% CF).
Vernon Fiddler (48.7% FOW / 27.3% ZSO / -4 Goal Differential) - Still seeing brutal usage, but Fiddler lost the battle this week.
Ales Hemsky (11:24 ATOI / 0 Pts / 4 SOG) - Started the week playing almost 13 minutes, finished under 10. The thing about an offense like this one is once you're out, you're out, and it's tough to break back in.
Mattias Janmark (0 Pts / 52.9% CF / 13:00 ATOI) - Total gut call here, but Janmark was very slightly down in my book. Feels like maybe a case where the grind is setting in. Young kid, big minutes, it's understandable.
Travis Moen (OGP) - Down because he didn't play. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.
Johnny Oduya (44.3% CF / 40.4% ZSO / 6 Blks) - Ottawa (45.5% CF) and Vancouver (30.8% CF) were rough outings from a possession standpoint. Minnesota was better, but Oduya only played 16:06.
Patrick Eaves (10:54 ATOI / 52.4% ZSO / 3 H) - Valuable depth. Good hustle. Eaves didn't stand out, but that's not really his job on this squad.
Antti Niemi (.872 SV% / 3.33 GAA / 2 W) - Credit where credit is due, Niemi put the Senators disaster in the rearview in time to win a pair of important contests against Vancouver and Minnesota. Bonus points for doing so with his safety blanket (Lehtonen) on the shelf. His personal numbers are worrying, but the team went 2-1.
Valeri Nichushkin (1 A / 11:54 ATOI / 6 SOG) - There was the bad pass in Minnesota, then there was the bullish button-hook that led to a Stars goal. More important, Nuke showed flashes of chemistry with Jason Spezza. Perpetually on the cusp.
Antoine Roussel (47.4% CF / 4 PIMs / O Penalties Drawn) - It didn't matter in the standings, but Rooster came out negative in the old aggro-ledger this week. The Stars are a better team when he stays on the ice.
Colton Sceviour (O pts / 34.5% ZSO / 7 SOG) - Nothing tangible, and it felt like every good was offset by a not so good. For example, Colton played a week-high 13:48 against Minnesota, but was a 42.9% CF player. Two steps forwards, two steps back.
Jyrki Jokipakka (2 GP / 66.7% ZSO / 4 H) - Tagged out by week's end to let one of the other young blueliners into the lineup (Nemeth). Overall, Jokipakka was a bit sheltered, but generally effective. It's the scratch that keeps him from being begrudgingly up.
Patrik Nemeth (1 GP / 17:18 ATOI / 76% CF) - The curse of Nemeth almost continued against the Wild. He had a few moments to remind fans he hasn't played much this season, but ended up massively on the positive side of the possession ledger. Score effects are a thing that happens, and one-game sample sizes must be considered. I say middle of the road.
Jamie Oleksiak (1 GP / 15:36 TOI / 1 GA) - The Big Rig only played the debacle against Ottawa, which seems rough. Then again, he played almost 16 minutes, saw just one goal get past his goaltender, and was a positive possession player (53.8% CF). I'm keeping him in the middle.
Jack Campbell (DNP) - Called up in the wake of Kari's injury. Hasn't seen any action yet.
On The Shelf
Kari Lehtonen (1 GP / 1 GA / 8:31 TOI) - Injured against Ottawa so he gets a little bit of a pass. Kari should be eligible to return as early as tonight. Last season, that would have been cause for alarm. This season? Welcome back!