It’s been a messy couple of weeks for Dallas Stars hockey. So it may come as a surprise that – all of five games into the 2021-22 season – they find themselves among the top three teams in the murderous Central Division.
Of course, if you’ve been watching (and we have to ask, because Bally Sports Southwest), you know how much of that measure of success rests upon the goaltending of Braden Holtby.
The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks examines the return of the player they called the Holtbeast during his heyday (which included both a Vezina Trophy and a Stanley Cup). He concludes that Holtby, as the team’s “most consistently excellent player,” has fully assumed the mantle as that netminder the Stars will rely on to the exclusion of virtually everyone else:
Without Holtby’s performance in New York, the Stars wouldn’t have even made it to overtime against the Rangers. The same can be said Friday night against the Kings, who finishing with 78 shot attempts, 20 high-danger scoring chances and 3.14 expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick.
“I don’t think whenever you get that many, that high of quantity, the quality is never really as good,” Holtby said. “But that’s not my thing to worry about. My job is just to stop whatever’s thrown at me.”
And don’t think his teammates – and head coach Rick Bowness – don’t know it:
“It can’t be that much of a surprise with his history,” the Stars’ Tyler Seguin said. “We’re fortunate that Holts wanted to come here. He likes our system, and our D do a great job. We play pretty defensive, and he’s been unbelievable. I’m not going to get tired of talking about him this year.”
Bowness: “His hockey IQ is something we’re all very impressed with, but his compete, his composure. He’s just been spectacular, he really has.”
Matt has more. [SportsDayDFW]
In case you haven’t noticed, it can be very, very difficult to find a place to watch a Stars game. The Victory Green Gang wants to help.
After meeting Columbus 8 times last season, the Stars have their first of ✌ meetings of the 2021-22 season with the Blue Jackets tonight.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 25, 2021
: https://t.co/wr6pwSYJHg@PNCBank | #TexasHockey pic.twitter.com/wNDYCzMT9w
And in case you missed it, the NHL decided Jani Hakanpää has been punished enough.
Told that Jani Hakanpää will not have supplemental discipline for kneeing Drew Doughty, as he did not extend his knee in any way and kept his same position throughout the hit.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) October 23, 2021
The even better news, especially for the Los Angeles Kings, is that Doughty will almost certainly be just fine, and very soon.
Hearing initial prognosis last night on Drew Doughty was positive - a relatively minor knee sprain.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 23, 2021
Still awaiting final word today from docs, but certainly a welcomed sigh of relief from #LAKings, Doughty and (!) Hockey Canada after a scary sequence. #Beijing2022@DFOHockey
Around The Leagues
In On The #Kill Taker
- The Nashville Predators won the Central-on-Central duel, but lost Eeli Tolvanen, in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. [On The Forecheck]
- And the Chicago Blackhawks are setting records in the wrong ways, as their 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings confirms. [Second City Hockey]
The Mascot Wars are here, and they’re glorious.
Here’s one competition every NHL team will be watching: Who will make Team Canada?
Now that we know NHLers will be heading to Beijing to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics, sports talk in this country will centre around picking Team Canada.— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) October 25, 2021
This, too, is what #TexasHockey looks like. Learn more about how the nonprofit RGV Roller is growing the game at the border.
In Tamaulipas, Mexico, a dedicated hockey community quietly thrives. Across the border, in south Texas, the sport hangs on by a thread.— Sonny Sachdeva (@SachdevaSonny) October 24, 2021
My feature on how the two communities, ever intertwined, are fighting to keep hockey alive in the Rio Grande Valley: https://t.co/3LFHQPXGn9 pic.twitter.com/3eUK05HDLz
“[We’re] in the middle of a massive opioid and mental health crisis. Those two things are inherently connected.” Colin Wilson tells the whole story.
“I was in the NHL. I was scoring goals. Playing in a Cup final. Living a dream. But I was an addict. And I didn’t even know I had a problem.”— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) October 25, 2021
Former NHL player Colin Wilson opens up about his battle with addiction.https://t.co/x9gqfHwtZy
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
The Stars offense shines in 6-2 win over Tucson on Sunday.— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) October 25, 2021
Curtis McKenzie says hey. Enjoy.