Heading into the season, there were many questions about Jason Spezza and his future with the Dallas Stars. Was his 2017-18 season under Ken Hitchcock, where he scored only 26 points in 78 games, an outlier due to a bad fit with Hitchock’s system, or a sign of things to come?
Eight games into the new season, Spezza sits fifth on the Stars in scoring with 2 goals and 5 assists for a total of 7 points, playing at almost a point-per-game pace. So yeah, I think it’s an outlier:
“I’ve never been fast, that’s not where my problem was last year,” he said of the questions about his declining skillset. “It was thinking too much and playing too far outside of my game. I’ve just been working hard at what I do well, and it’s been working good. I actually think I have more to give.”
Part of Spezza’s rebound performance can be credited to new head coach Jim Montgomery, who is already building a strong relationship with the playmaking veteran:
“I told him, to just play his game, and a big smile came on his face,” Montgomery said of his first meeting with Spezza. “You can see him start to assert himself offensively, and his confidence is growing. He has that swagger again.”
“It’s his team and he’s the boss. He knows what to do,” Spezza said. “He’s won at all his levels. I don’t feel like he’s a rookie coach you need to talk to. It’s best to let him do what he’s doing, because everything is well thought-out.
You can read more in Mike Heika’s piece here.
About Last Night...
First, a beautiful wraparound by Jason Dickinson leads to Blake Comeau opening the scoring:
Later, the aforementioned Jason Spezza notched his second of the year off a Justin Dowling rebound:
John Klingberg padded to his goal tally with the eventual game winner after a goal by the Kings:
Klinger from up top with a Quick one. pic.twitter.com/SHn2EBEqvv— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 24, 2018
(He almost got a 2nd, but his shot went in less than a second after the second period ended.)
Finally, Tyler Pitlick sealed the deal with a power play goal:
Here’s what Pitlick had to say about the game and playing with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin:
.@Pitty687 knew the importance of this game against the Kings.— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) October 24, 2018
"It was huge. We had lost 3 in-a-row. You can't lose 4 in-a-row, so it was real important to get that win and hopefully we can keep it going." #GoStars | #NHL pic.twitter.com/Vp1zYbXm8k
And here’s the man of the day, Jason Spezza:
Even after a solid victory, Jim Montgomery can find places to improve:
It was a busy night in the NHL yesterday, but only two other Central teams teed off:
- The Chicago Blackhawks peppered the Anaheim Ducks with 38 shots (poor John Gibson...) in a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. [Second City Hockey]
- Rough third period for the Nashville Predators, who let in blew a 2 goal lead and lost to the San Jose Sharks 5-4. [Fear the Fin]
They were a popular pick to make the postseason this year, but the St. Louis Blues continue to struggle:
Blues keep finding ways to lose https://t.co/QnWyXeroFu— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) October 23, 2018
Could the Colorado Avalanche have one of the best lines in hockey? I sure hope not:
On that note, Gabriel Landeskog is Greg Wyhsnyski’s “Best Player in the World” for this week: [ESPN]
Slow and steady wins the race...
Around the League
Radek Faksa and Esa Linell both made Corey Pronman’s list, and Devin Shore got an honorable mention:
(Note: Faksa is waaaay too low, but don’t shoot the messenger.)
Miro Heiskanen is obviously going to stick around past nine games, but what about the other rookies across the league? [The Hockey News]
Guys, I think Sidney Crosby is secretly bitter about all the “Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews” arguments...
Then again, could he have managed that against the Great Wall of Ben Bishop?