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Dallas Stars open Traverse City with 2-1 Victory over Minnesota Wild

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Offensive talent was on display, but defense and goaltending carry the day.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The beginning of the 2019 Traverse City Prospects tournament got off to a bit of a slow start, with a FoxSportsGo blank screen for most of the first period. During the technical blackout, the Dallas Stars did get off to a quick start, with Nicholas Porco roofing a feed from Ty Dellandrea.

The Stars dominated possession, but failed to take advantage of two power play opportunities. Curtis Douglas did pick up a five minute fighting major, and in the process showed himself to be the biggest player on the ice by a decent margin.

Early in the second, Riley Tufte picked up a little gravy in the crease after a strong move and shot by Thomas Harley to give the Stars a 2-0 lead. Following the goal, the Stars maintained their offensive zone pressure until an ill advised pinch by Emil Djuse gave the Minnesota Wild a two on one breakaway. Nico Sturm cleaned up a puck in the crease to make it 2-1.

The Wild came out with a bit more purpose for the third period. The Stars survived an early penalty kill, and mid-period had to kill off a four minute Jason Robertson high stick. In the middle, Wild netminder Mat Robson stoned Tye Felhaber off a slick move on the break.

There were a few nervous moments in the waning seconds, with open Wild forward in the crease and a clean faceoff loss with just over two seconds on the clock, the Jake Oettinger survived it all to pull out the opening win of the tournament.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Nick Caamano - Ty Dellandrea - Jason Robertson
Adam Mascherin - Riley Damiani - Tye Felhaber
Riley Tufte - Rhett Gardner - Joel Kiviranta
Curtis Douglas - Josh Melnick - Nicholas Porco

Thomas Harley - Ben Gleason
John Nyberg - Dawson Barteaux
Emil Djuse - Nicolas Mattinen

Jake Oettinger

Standouts

Mark: With this being the first game and only having heard about the high level of talent that the Stars were bringing to Traverse City, I’m going to go with the obvious. The top six forwards looked dangerous the entire game.

The top line dominated possession while they were on the ice and took play to the Wild defense. The second line showed tenacity on the forecheck and in the neutral zone, which created several dangerous scoring chances.

Cody: Buy your Ben Gleason stock while it’s low. He was my second favorite defenseman last year at the tournament (good luck beating out Miro) and for game one he wasn’t just my favorite defenseman but my favorite overall player. He had multiple break-ups at the blueline against the rush, commanded the power play, skillful puck carries for entries and created scoring chances. I liked his game a lot... again.

Robertson probably had the play of the night with a skillful exit out of his zone, puck-handling past three players with ease. This was the only play I had to rewind because I said out loud “okay... who was that though”.

Sleepers

Mark: I wasn’t prepared to like his game, but especially with the game on the line in the third, Riley Tufte showed more skill on the puck than I expected. His shot needs some work and he held onto the puck a bit more than I would have liked at times, but he looked like a first round draft pick who is pretty comfortable with his size.

On defense, I was pretty impressed with the whole group. The surprise for me was John Nyberg. He and partner Dawson Barteaux had a quietly solid game on both ends. When you don’t hear the names of your second defensive pair on the broadcast, they are probably doing something right.

Cody: I thought Caamano’s game one stood out for me when comparing him to last year. He seemed to be one of the faster players on the ice. He negated an icing with a huge burst of speed, he was calm and floated with the puck in the zone. I wasn’t expecting much from him but was pleasantly surprised.

Disappointments

Mark: After one game, especially a 2-1 victory, this is pretty tough. I have extremely high expectations for Jake Oettinger, so I was a bit nervous to see a number of rebounds going to high danger areas. A one goal victory, no matter the few imperfections, does not a disappointment make, but I may need to adjust my hopes and dreams.

Emil Djuse is my prime candidate. Djuse’s pinch on the boards led directly to the breakout that lead to the Wild’s lone goal, and there was at least one other deep in the zone turnover that Oettinger had to clean up. Djuse showed skill on multiple plays, but his mistakes stood out.

The problem with evaluations after one game is not just sample size; the bounce of the puck could easily turn a calculated risk into a disaster. There is also the general nature of a tournament for prospects. Each of these players has a limited opportunity to make an impression, so the temptation is there to make the play that gets you noticed.

Cody: I thought it was overall a good game by the Stars. As Mark mentioned, the Djuse pinch that led to a rush goal against stood out as a sore moment. There was another rush against that was caused by Tufte leaving his guy in the offensive zone while Harley was roaming down the wing a bit that also stood out as a “yikes” moment.

That said, it was a good win. Bring on the New York Rangers.

Things to look for on Saturday

Mark: The New York Rangers played the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday afternoon and came out on the losing end of a 6-2 score. Kaapo Kakko was under the weather, and was held out of both Thursday practice and the game on Friday. If he plays, the second overall pick from last years draft is the Ranger to watch.

For the Stars, I’m looking for the top two lines to dominate on the score sheet the way that they did on the ice against the Wild. Mat Robson, the Wild netminder, was the best player on the ice against the Stars. Goals by Porco and Tufte should be viewed as depth scoring, but Dallas has some high octane talent up front that could use a breakout game.

I’m also interested to see how the defense comes out on Saturday. During the first 40 minutes against the Wild, the Stars were aggressive on the blue line. It helped with possession, but Dallas gave up multiple odd man rushes as a result of some bad pinches.

In the final period, the Stars protected the lead. It wasn’t a full turtle, but the Wild had noticeably easier zone exits. The good news is that the defense played well both ways, but the playing style that the defense comes out with on Saturday evening should indicate how interested the coaching staff is in seeing their potent offensive talent on display.

Cody: I’m looking for a better stream from Fox Sports Southwest that doesn’t make me miss an entire period. Aside from that, I’m excited to just see more. I want to see Harley give me a “wow” moment and I’d like to see some of the top forwards show me some high-impact plays on the power play. I’m also looking forward to some of the snipers showing us a display of their lethal shots; guys like Robertson, Felhaber, and Mascherin.