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Game 75 Afterwords: Script Flipped

Good old special teams and overtime...wait, what?

NHL: Dallas Stars at New Jersey Devils
We are all Brett Ritchie.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

In his first season with the Stars, Ales Hemsky wasn’t scoring all that much. He ended the year with 11-21-32 in 76 games, and a lot of people were ready to be done with him. I personally expected Dallas to look to trade him.

Then came last year, and with it his chemistry with Faksa and Roussel. It might have been the Stars’ best line in a lot of their 13 playoff games, and after scoring a touch more (13-26-39), the Stars looked a lot more like a team that could use Hemsky well.

Then the World Cup happened, because the NHL knows that international tournaments are a great way to buoy their product in the eyes of the viewing public. Also, everyone on the Stars got hurt. Seguin, Faksa and Hemsky all got dinged up, with Hemsky’s hip being the worst of the three.

Now Hemsky’s back, and he’s scored 4-3-7 in, what, 13 games? It’s a tiny sample, but Hemsky has looked great since his return, and not just when he’s been given an alternate captain letter to wear. His goal tonight, like his first goal in Vancouver (oh, if you had been there with me!) was kinda goofballariffic, but whatever. You have to get to those areas with the puck for goofiness to happen at all, and he does that, and does it well. He’s scored at a career pace since his return, and I hope you are enjoying every second of it.

John Klingberg redeemed his goofus move that led to the Devils’ goal earlier with a glorious pass to Seguin in overtime. Good job, John! Also, very bad job for giving the puck away (like Jamie Benn also did) to the Devils. Do not do this!!!! Sad!

Kari was great, again. Stephen Johns looked like an impact player, which is meaningful. I am also learning to appreciate Oleksiak’s game more, and it was very good at times tonight, though I still don’t see a world where keeping him at the cost of Johns nets out positively at all. But then again, betting on or against any player is a gamble, if you’re a GM. What a tough job!

Julius Honka is not up in Dallas yet, presumably because they want him playing in Texas while the T-Stars are still alive, or because the defense is still jammed in Dallas, or maybe both. I’m still a little confused why Nill gave the “8-10 games” comment at all if it wasn’t supposed to be taken literally, but honestly, it’s not a big deal. Honka playing 4 games vs 8 games doesn’t really mean much at this point. (WARNING: If anyone tries to sell me on Greg Pateryn being the reason Honka isn’t playing in the NHL, I will become rather unhappy.)

Blake Coleman scored, too! He is from Plano, Texas, you know. It was nice of the Stars to greet him by bringing some of that Southern Hospitality with them for his first NHL goal.

Greg Pateryn is basically just Greg Pateryn, and that’s fine. Brett Ritchie strikes me as the sort of young, inexpensive player good teams have down the lineup. I think he’ll get protected in the expansion draft.

Oh, Jason Dickinson played with Shore and Faksa. That was crazy! I’m not sure I ever believed we’d see Dickinson and Shore playing together, but there you are. It’s cool to see three Dallas draftees who have played center in the past all on one line. It wasn’t a line with total chemistry, but they weren’t pouring beakers of acid on themselves, either. Their line, like Cody Eakin, brought some energy tonight, even if it didn’t show up on the score board.

Ruff’s line juggling felt right to me in this one, which means absolutely nothing. If you had told me two years ago that Ruff would be playing Hemsky on the top line with Seguin and Benn again (occasionally), I would have wept for joy and confusion. This season is trying to redeem itself in smaller ways. I’m okay with that.

Tanking is stupid. Wanting to lose is stupid. You don’t know how much better draft pick X is going to be than draft pick Z. I hereby grant you full permission to root for the Stars regardless of what anyone says. If you are watching the games, then hope for the best. These games are supposed to be entertainment, after all. Tonight, even in a game against the Devils, was entertaining. How about that?