Well, Saturday night wasn’t very fun.
The Dallas Stars kicked off their first road trip of the season in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday night to take on their new divisional opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes. The resulting 4-1 loss at the end of the night left much to be desired and ended a promising four-game win streak to start the new season. The Stars had about next to nothing against the Hurricanes, generating a measly 11 shots on goal, with six of the 11 shots coming in the first period.
The club was lacking anything that looked like a coordinated offensive attack. The 5-on-5 play was completely out of tune, and the team looked more and more fatigued as the game went on. The true undoing of the Stars was a penalty kill that fell flat on its face, left the goaltending out to dry, and allowed the Hurricanes to score three times with the advantage. That’s a recipe for a loss, and a good motivating factor in righting the ship tonight in the second game of the back-to-back set.
Help is Coming
Saturday night’s tilt brought a bit of good news for the Stars before the puck dropped on an otherwise forgettable evening. The club was able to welcome back center Roope Hintz, and FCC-line winger Blake Comeau. The Stars beat a hapless Detroit Red Wings team down some key pieces, a problem that will prove fatal against better competition in the Discover Central Division. Before the game, each player was listed as a game-time decision, with the Stars leaking Comeau’s appearance on their Twitter account. Hintz wasn’t confirmed in the lineup until he took the ice for warm-up.
Head coach Rick Bowness did quip last night that the club is hoping captain Jamie Benn can make his way back into the lineup on Sunday night. Benn went down with a lower-body injury on opening night and hasn’t played since. Benn was recently put on the injured reserve, but that was simply a roster move to add fresh reinforcements. Benn has been skating on his own and in practices as he tries to work himself back into the lineup. It will be something to keep an eye on for a Stars team that would love to have their captain back on a key opening road trip.
Weathering the Storm
The Hurricanes are a really good team, evidenced by their own 4-1-0 start to the season. Carolina has a number of ways to beat their opponent, and Sebastian Aho is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their forward group. The Hurricanes also have a formidable defense corps, including Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin. Carolina plays a hard, fast, attack-in-waves type of game at 5-on-5 that the club has bought into lock, stock, and barrel. Which isn’t much different from a Stars team that has also bought into their system.
Structure in a hockey team is like a foundation to a house. The bad teams in the NHL have talent, but they lack that foundation to their team that makes them successful. That structure flows through all four lines, defense, and goaltending. Everyone knows their role and when the structure is faulty, the team is naturally going to be in trouble.
The Stars found out what it’s going to be like to play teams with a discernible identity, with the team falling awfully flat in their first attempt. If the Stars are to grab two points this afternoon, the Stars have to weather the storm and implement their system effectively.
Lines and Storylines
These two tilts against the Hurricanes are the start of the Stars’ road schedule and the team’s first back-to-back set. Road trips are going to be interesting this year, as the teams are going to be playing two-game sets per trip to each city. It looks to be a pretty cool wrinkle to the season this year with teams having to confront a loss or defend a win immediately.
The familiarity of the teams is also going to be something to watch for in this weird NHL season, and the Stars and Hurricanes are going to find themselves very familiar with one another at season’s end. Most are picking the Stars to finish in the top four of the division, which means games against good teams like Carolina are going to be marquee matchups and measuring-tape games.
Stars lines:— Saad Yousuf (@SaadYousuf126) January 30, 2021
Dickinson — Hintz — Gurianov
Kero — Pavelski — Radulov
Cogliano — Faksa — Dellandrea
Caamano — Dowling — Comeau
Rick Bowness easing Comeau in/not messing with what's working with Dellandrea.
The Stars lineup looked as The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf outlined last night before the game. There was the regular tinkering that happens throughout a game, but for the most part the lineup was fairly straightforward.
With Jamie Benn possibly coming back into lineup, look for the lines to change again as warmup takes place. The biggest question is if Benn can play, then who comes out of the lineup for the Stars?
Puck drop is at 4 p.m. CST and as always Stars fans can catch the game on 1310/96.7 The Ticket on Radio and FS-SW on the TV side.