Every team's first game against the previous season's Stanley Cup Champions is the proverbial "litmus test" game. After all, when you play against the team that was the absolute best, you get a chance to see how exactly you measure up.
For the Dallas Stars last night, the story was no different. After a slow start to the season, the Kings came in firing on all cylinders. Their offense was clicking, their defense was stifling, and the only regulation game they had lost at home was against the Blackhawks.
It was more important than ever that the Stars limit the scoring chances for the Kings, while cashing in on their own.
And they succeeded.
The biggest item we have discussed all season is the number of penalties that the Stars take on average. It a statistic that has been trending downward over the last 15 games or so, and last night was no different, with only a single power play for the Kings.
Other the other side of special teams, the Stars managed to go 2 for 3 on their power play, helping to spark their offense.
All in all, it was an effective game. There are certainly things that still need to be worked on, of course. There were several defensive lapses, and the faceoffs were atrocious. But they were able to hold their own against one of the better playing teams as of late.
Stars coach Glen Gulutzan agrees:
"I thought we played a decent game. I thought the faceoff circle hurt us and we took a lot of chances off that. A bulk of their chances were coming off lost draws, shots were coming off there. We needed to do a better job as a group."
"They are a great team. They play hard, they are big, they are strong and they've got skill. They won the Cup for a reason. I thought we were OK. We got timely goals, our power play got two. Cody Eakin made a heck of a play at the end of the period where we didn't have much going on. I thought we played better in the third."
As long as the offense keeps clicking, and Kari Lehtonen is there to bail out the team when things go bad, it would seem that this team can stand a fighting chance against any opponent that takes the ice. Of course, this is only one game. There are still 25 more to go this season before we can really see how these Dallas Stars stack up against the rest.
Coming up in today's links: Catching up with Jaromir Jagr, Stars fans are returning to the arena, and
- With such a shortened season, every point counts. And right now, the Stars in in the thick of the playoff race. [Dallas Weekly]
- Ray Whitney could return as soon as Tuesday, but expect it to be more like "He's ready when he's ready." [Dallas News]
- Mark Stepneski has a quick recap of last night's game. It's interesting how the Stars did so well in some aspects, but were dominated in others. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Sean McIndoe takes a look at the big names that changed teams during the offseason, and how they are fairing now. He's not quite as enthusiastic about a couple of the Stars players as I am. [Grantland]
- Dallas boasts the best attendance increase from the prior season. Considering where they were last year, it may not come as a complete surprise. Still, it's a major accomplishment, and kudos to Stars management and staff for getting it done. [Pro Hockey Talk]
- The official application form for offer sheets was somehow leaked this week. It's a chance to see the behind the scenes process of how these things are done. Note: Sarcasm ahead. [Down Goes Brown]
- It's funny how hockey can be such a tough sport, yet there can be such childish reactions from time to time. This week, it's a coach throwing a tantrum, as well as sticks and water bottles. [Yahoo Sports]
- The NHL has officially stepped up and told the Hawks that last season's wins do not count towards their current streak. Drat. [Puck Daddy]
- For your video of the day, here's last night's Game in 6. Balanced scoring across the board, with Jagr, Morrow, Eakin, and Roussel all getting goals. That very nice to see.