A 5-4-0 record leaves little to complain about. Sure, fans would love it to be higher, but the Dallas Stars are currently tied 3rd in the Central with Colorado and Nashville. That slides them into the first Wild Card spot, which is an acceptable start to the season.
When it comes to the season-long plan, however, the Stars so far don’t quite look like we thought they would yet:
There were so many things spelled out on paper less than a month ago that now are just ice shavings in the Zamboni. The six D-men need to get into unified pairs and build chemistry. The goalies should probably get a 66-33 split during the season. Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark should be able to switch center roles as they transition from the offensive zone to the defensive zone.
Suffice it to say, none of these plans have come to fruition yet; the defensive pairs change more or less every night, Ben Bishop has started all but one game so far, and Ken Hitchcock hasn’t seemed to figure out what he wants to do yet with his middle six forwards.
Still, that doesn’t mean the Stars are anywhere close to hitting the panic button. Getting some support and depth scoring from outside their top players is a step in the right direction.
"My image of this team is we have a number of our core leadership group who are really playing well, and we need more people on board," Hitchcock said." If we can get that, we'll really be in good shape."
You can read more in Mike Heika’s piece here.
Bad news for the Stars: Stephen Johns could be out a couple games after being diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms during their game Tuesday night:
Stephen Johns (upper body) won't play Thursday in Edmonton, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 25, 2017
Not only does that mean Jamie Oleksiak is likely back in the lineup, Greg Pateryn could make his season debut tonight, presumably in place of Julius Honka. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]
Overshadowed in the various offseason additions, Tyler Pitlick is proving to be an excellent pickup. [NHL]
Well that’s not something I would have expected, though I don’t personally value +/- too much:
This fascinates me (1). Devin Shore was a minus-4 last game and is minus-8 on the season. He's also minus-11 in SAT, last on the team...— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) October 26, 2017
John Klingberg, meanwhile, is having an excellent start to the season:
Ken Hitchcock isn’t worried about any potential conflict with Ben Bishop after benching him on Tuesday.
Hitch said he's not worried about conflict with Bishop. "If you coached in this business worried about conflict you wouldn't last 5 minutes"— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) October 25, 2017
You can read about how both are moving on from the incident from Scott Burnside’s piece on the issue. [NHL]
Good news, everyone: Vernon Fiddler now has an (official) Twitter account! [Twitter]
Around the League
Here’s your latest update on ELC players who are about to reach (or already have) the 10 game mark for the season: [The Hockey News]
Former Dallas Star Adam Cracknell has successfully cleared waivers and has been assigned to Hartford.
Speaking of which, what exactly do the Canadiens have on their hands in Alex Galchenyuk? [Sportsnet]
Former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan is staying in the NHL, just in a different role:
Not sure when NHL will announce it, but Shane Doan has joined Hockey Ops department. Will work under Collin Campbell.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 25, 2017
Puck Daddy’s Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the top storylines currently in the NHL. [Yahoo Sports]
Vegas has been good so far, really good actually. But is the success actually hurting the team more than it’s helping them? [The Hockey News]
Speaking of the Golden Knights, here’s an interesting nugget: Vladim Shipachyov has been granted permission to seek a possible trade out of Vegas. [NBC Sports]
In case you’re still in denial, Phil Kessel is a pretty good hockey player. Basketball? Not so much.