After an offseason filled with fanfare with new players, coaches, goalies and hope, the Stars have started the season 1-3.
Their latest loss came Thursday against defending Western Conference Champions Nashville, 4-1.
However, that 4-1 score is not truly a reflection of how well Dallas did play Thursday.
Ben Bishop made countless stops that would have ended up in net last season. Jamie Benn scored his first goal of the season, and the line of Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov looked impressive (just don’t remember the turnover by Radulov that led to Nashville’s third goal. Forget that part). They also played, arguably, the best 20 minutes of Stars hockey I’ve seen in more than a year during that first period.
So, with all that positive, we still look at the record and it says: 1-3.
Dallas started last season 4-4-2. But at no point during that span did Dallas look anywhere near as good as they did Thursday.
The difference between Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock’s coaching styles cannot be understated. Ruff pushed offensive pace, possession and speed. Hitchcock, the opposite, pushes structure, defensive assignments and discipline.
When Dallas started the season 4-4-2 there was no structure. There was no rhyme or reason for anything they did. It was frenetic, undisciplined, and honestly, sloppy hockey.
Dallas’ poor play can be seen with how poorly they started and ended games. Dallas’ opponents outscored Dallas in the first and third period by a combined 173-133.
The Stars were always playing catchup. They would continually lose their structure, discipline and pace of play.
Thursday in Nashville it looked like a different team. And that’s because it was.
The first 20 minutes were possibly some of the most structured Stars hockey there has been in years. There were smooth breakouts, backchecking, defense and physicality.
Not only does Dallas need to adapt to Hitchcock’s new style, but also to the additions of Radulov, Martin Hanzal, Marc Methot, Bishop in net and the re-introduction of Mattias Janmark to the lineup.
It can also be argued the line of Janmark, Hanzal and Devin Shore is Dallas’ most complete line.
The Captain, though, is not pleased with how he, and the team is playing.
Dallas will try to right the ship Saturday back at the American Airlines Center against the surprising 3-1 Avalanche.
Maybe it’ll be Saturday when Dallas can put together a full 60-minute effort.