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Afterwords: The Jason Dickinson Moderate Levels of Hype Trolley Is Now Rolling

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One goal. Two points.

Photo creation courtesy of @holly_holl

Jason Dickinson gave his boys an extra point tonight. Clang clang clang!

***

Jason Dickinson getting shifts in overtime is still something to behold. We’ve discussed his ascent here before, but it’s worth marveling over yet again: Jason Dickinson is tied for the team lead in even-strength goals. This player, who couldn’t make a case for himself in his short hearings last season, has turned into a significant member of the Stars in a shockingly short time. And lest you think this is a byproduct of a couple of 3v3 goals skewing things early in the season, I give you this:

“[Dickinson’s] someone that I really trust because he plays the right way, his details have been fantastic,” Montgomery said. “His speed and his ability to drive the net on 3-on-3 situations gets us in a lot of advantages. He’s done it twice now.”

Hype train? Well, it’s hard to call it that, since Dickinson’s debut three years ago saw him scoring unexpectedly, but a Moderate Levels of Hype Trolley? That’s the most neighborly conveyance I can imagine for a player who has ensconced himself in Dallas for the forseeable future this year. These are the players you have to find in the draft, you know? It’s nice to see one of them finally holding up a big corner of the postgame rally tent.

Moderately hype-worthy fact: Dickinson already has 23 shots on goal in 17 games this year, while he amassed just 16 shots on goal in 27 games in last year. I think we’re seeing a better version of Dickinson from here on out, and it’s safe to say the coaching staff agrees.

Dickinson isn’t going to replace Tyler Seguin or anything like that, of course. But with Radek Faksa continuing to look for goals, and with Spezza’s contract expiring next summer, Dickinson’s so-far solid play is...well, let’s just say it’s not unwelcome. Moderation, folks.

***

That’s really the best thing about this game, as we prepare for another road trip. The Stars got two points out of a game they easily could have lost on a few different close shaves. It was not a good game, and it was not a particularly fun game to watch, even with the antics from *checks scoresheet* uh, Jason Spezza and whatever a “Connor Clifton” is. Ah, right, it was one of those games.

So, Patrice Bergeron, one of the best centers in the game, gave Radek Faksa a little shot, and that might have led to Faksa’s riding him a little bit as the two went into the boards. It was a rough play for Bergeron (who took the impact), but this wasn’t a penalty or dirty play from what I could see, just Faksa basically wrestling his guy down. I am, as always, completely objective in my opinions.

Brad Marchand, meanwhile, continued to leave a trail of his particularly foul odor across the ice, and the officials can only take so much, you know? Marchand took a penalty in retaliation for Faksa’s tumble with Bergeron, then later took another minor with a fairly harmless but altogether unnecessary whack on Bishop’s leg (which the goalie promptly sold like a low-mileage Jeep Comanche), the penalization of which was followed up by some verbal vitriol along with the old “white flag” routine that earned him a ten-minute cherry on top of his penalty sundae, AKA a misconduct penalty.

But by far the best (if you could call it that) part of the whole Bruins’ top line fiasco this night was yet to come. For Bergeron, who got checked out for a concussion (one assumes) for a bit, would return in the third to dish out some retaliatory shots to Faksa after the whistle. Faksa wasn’t pleased, and the boys started asking each other if they would like to go, and while they tussled a bit, they did not go—much to the disappointment of Roman Polák, who was Ready To Go. Again, though, the Stars won the exchange when all was said and done, as Bergeron and Marchand were given matching roughing minors with Blake Comeau and Roman Polák, who have not quite scored as many points this year as the Bruins’ duo have. Comeau also got a bloody nose (I believe) in the scrum, so there’s your Grit of the Game (GOTG).

Also, one little coda: Brad Marchand’s pass in overtime failed to connect with David Pastrnak, after which Mattias Janmark would collect the puck and head the other way for his eventual game-winning assist. So, when all was said and done, Marchand got to end another overtime game against Dallas. Hooray for Bradley.

All told, Bergeron never looked the same after getting run into the boards, Brad Marchand had 18 penalty minutes, and David Pastrnak (along with Matt Grzelcyk) failed to do anything about Dickinson, watching him dunk the game-winner after he skated right between them to pot the rebound. That’s a pretty great night against the best line in the NHL this year for Faksa, Comeau and Pitlick.

  • Mattias Janmark might have had his best game of the season on a night the Stars (and Bruins) looked Functional At Best. Janmark was getting to pucks, looking for better plays, and his eventual persistence (relentlessness?) in overtime got the Stars the extra point. As Montgomery said in the postgame scrum, you notice that Janmark wasn’t looking to pass on that rush; he wound up and took a slapper. That’s a player with a plan.
  • This is a player without a plan, who didn’t get a shift after about 12 minutes left in the third:

When you get a chance on the rush with numbers (the Stars had a 4-on-3, with Spezza open in the high slot here), you have options. You can shoot for a rebound for the guy driving the net (Benn). You can try to beat the goalie if you get to the dots. You can look for a cross-ice pass, or even the trailing guy. But what you really, really can’t do is take too long to load up, telegraph your shot, and defuse the entire play without even getting the puck on goal. Ritchie is fighting it right now, and I’m not sure what the solution is. Let’s hope he figures it out.

After all the talk about Ritchie’s elevation to the second line, he looked like anything but a top-six forward in this one. His miss on a 2-on-1 midway through the third drew some boos, but the low point might have been earlier in the frame. After his elevation to the top power play unit following some extended work by the top guys to recover some pucks, Ritchie killed the shift when he accidentally hit the “turnaround shot” button on a pass to Radulov 20 feet away behind the net. The puck careened off Radulov and the boards, and it was collected by Boston and cleared. If you’re Jim Montgomery, that’s gotta just kill you to see a struggling power play, working hard to keep the puck, shoot itself in the foot a bit too literally.

  • Weird trivia: Every Stars skater but three got at least one shot on goal in this one. The trio? Joel Hanley, Brett Ritchie, and Jason Spezza.
  • Esa Lindell had some of the Stars’ best looks, but he couldn’t find the net. Everyone in this entire game looked like they were handling the puck with the wrong end of the stick, but Lindell had a legitimate look get robbed by Tuukka Rask, who did well to track the whole play. Lindell and Miro Heiskanen were solid in this one, with some good looks if not results in the net. That’s really all you can ask from the Stars’ defense right now.
  • Roman Polák is a terrifying individual to see raining punches down on you. Kudos to Torey Krug for returning to the game after that experience. Gracious.
  • This isn’t whining or blaming, but the officiating tonight was as lazy as a couple of Jamie Benn’s passes (which we’ll save for another time). The blatant “we’re gonna just let this thing run down” with three seconds on the clocks and Rask holding the puck was a bit lazy of the officials, and Jason Spezza was rightfully incensed at them. I’ve always held to the idea that there is a tacit agreement between the good officials and the players: they take care of each other and reward them for their effort. Players sometimes “earn” a penalty cumulatively, and referees can earn a bit of leeway from players if they’re working hard to be in the right position and explaining their calls when needed. That didn’t seem to happen a couple of times tonight.
  • Faksa could have been the hero of this one earlier (not to downplay his checking line accomplishments, which were many) when he was looking at an empty net and a simple put-back, but Jeremy Lauzon got a stick on his blade and the puck wobbled just enough to go ff the post and out. Radek Faksa will be the only one who still remember’s Lauzon’s name in Texas by March. Or by next week.
  • Kampfer likewise was alone in the business, but he fanned on DeBrusk’s feed. Honestly, this game was probably a 6-4 match standing on the shoulders of a 3-1 game with both wearing an overcoat, but they sneaked into overtime because the hockey gods were lazy.
  • Val Nichushkin was stopped by Rask after a great turnover generated by, of course, Janmark. Nuke looked very effective in this one, and but for the glove of Rask (feet off the ice!) there would be yet a different pilot of a hype-laden transport for us this day.
  • Yeah, okay, but that Spezza and Clifton fight. It appeared to start after Spezza took one more shot from Clifton than he wanted in front of the net, and this game was really sitting on a razor’s edge; Spezza didn’t put a puck on net, but he got some shots in regardless. Welcome to the NHL, Connor Clifton! A Man Named Giggles is trying to kill you.
  • Gavin Bayreuther arrived in the NHL as well. It seems ahead of schedule, given where Bayreuther’s defensive game was just a bit over a year ago. But since three other guys below Bayreuther on the depth chart have played games for Dallas because of Bayreuther’s injury, it almost feels overdue, too. Overall, he looked good. That was, as has been the case with Joel Hanley and Ben Gleason before him, a nice thing to see. This game did not look good, but Bayreuther earned enough respect to be getting on with, and that’s plenty to get a career started. Not everyone goes Fabian Brunnström on day one, after all.

1-0 games are sometimes beautiful testaments to the inherent joy of hockey. This game was not that. But we watched it anyway, hoping. Jason Dickinson won a 1-0 game in overtime after Gavin Bayreuther’s debut. The Stars are doing all right, all things considered, in the standings. There’s nothing wrong with hoping, for now. Hop on board the trolley, friends.