Dallas Stars Up/Down: Nothing but Winners Here
An undefeated week. Consistently good goaltending. The best offense in the league. These are the best of times for the Stars, who desperately needed a strong start to the season. They're getting one, for the moment, so let's see who is responsible for their good fortune.
You could argue last year's version of the Dallas Stars lose two, maybe three of this week's games. First, the Edmonton Oilers come back from an early deficit behind a goalie unexpectedly playing out of his mind. Next, the Lightning linger and linger and make a series of leads feel decidedly unsafe. Finally, the Panthers throw a pair of quick haymakers to put the boys in Victory Green in a 2-0 hole. All three games put stress on a Stars squad once-again burdened by high pre-season expectations.
So of course they found a way to score against Edmonton, got the saves they needed in Tampa Bay, and fought back against the Panthers. This squad seems to have an understanding of the depth and potency of their offense (3.80 G/GP - 1st / 33.3 PP% - 3rd). When things get rough they hang on, fight back, and trust the shots will fall. I don't know that we got that all of last year.
Now we get to watch what happens when good, young teams build a little confidence.
Kari Lehtonen (3 GP / .920 Sv% / 2.34 GAA) - The Big Finn is this week's big winner. Not only did he play all three games, he won all three games. Digging deeper, he staved off collapse when the Stars fell behind in Florida, and held down the fort against frantic surges by the Oilers and Bolts.
Jamie Benn (5 G / 8 Pts / 95.78 PDO) - The Boss, the Big Kahuna, El Queso Grande. There's the whole 'points in every game this season' thing to talk about, but actually, Benn the Younger has been unlucky on aggregate. Scary, huh?
Radek Faksa (1 GP) - A nasty injury opened the door, and Faksa got the call. One game in and the kid looks like a legit NHLer. Welcome!
Tyler Seguin (3 GP / 3 G / 7 Pts) - Last week we worried about his lack of goals. This week, he co-leads the Stars in total points. Do we credit the shift back to center?
Vernon Fiddler (51.1 FOW% / 40 ZSO% / 10:51 ATOI) - Played under ten minutes against Edmonton (8:54) and Tampa Bay (9:48), but made up the difference against the Panthers (14:15). That's, sort of, exactly what Fiddler is: a superb depth player capable of stepping up from time to time.
Ales Hemsky (3 GP / 3 A / 13:49 ATOI) - Would you believe Florida was the first game this season in which Hemsky has failed to register a point? If you watched last year, yes, you would likely accept as truth any game in which Hemsky failed to score, but this year? Different guy.
Mattias Janmark (28.57 S% / 1.70 G/60 / 14:34 ATOI) - I'm doing that thing where two stats advise caution while the third suggests the opposite. No, Janmark will not continue to score at a Seguin-esque pace, but he will continue to score at the NHL level while doing tons of other stuff coaches love.
Jason Spezza - (3 GP / 4 G / 2 A) - Guess who sits third on the Stars in scoring. Tack on two power play points, 15 shots on goal, and a 62 FOW% for the season. That's a good start to the season for a guy the Stars need producing.
Jordie Benn (1:51 ASHTOI / 5 H / 4 Blk) - He just keeps doing Jordie Benn things. Move along. No drama here.
Jason Demers (51.78 CF% / 0 PIMs / 1 PPG) - Demers played more than twenty minutes twice last week (21:28 against the Bolts, 20:43 against the Panthers). Those minutes included time on both special teams (1:37 and :54 on the power play / 2:13 and :37 shorthanded). He's shooting (7 SOG), hitting (6 H), and blocking shots (3 Blk). One thing he isn't doing? No penalties. Great week.
Colton Sceviour (3 GP / 1 A / 15:04 ATOI) - Finally made the lineup and oh-my-goodness was he part of a pretty goal in Tampa Bay. Bro also found the time to dish out seven hits.
Valeri Nichushkin (0 Pts / 1:21 APPTOI / 1 GP) - Took his first and second scratches of the young season like a seasoned pro. Nuke was notably more present against Florida. Yes, the goose-egg is still a major problem, but step one to fix it is getting into the lineup.
Antoine Roussel (34.15 ZSO% / 1:29 ASHTOI / 2 H) - Now is about the time for one of Rooster's teammates to snap a picture of the offensive zone, just in case he's forgotten what it looks like. Kidding aside, Roussel dipped below 13 minutes twice last week. That's something to watch.
Patrick Sharp (2 A / 11 SOG / 0 G) - Two assists against Florida prevent me from saying "the lack of points is becoming an issue." So there's that. Then I see 5:31 on the power play against Edmonton and 3:51 against Tampa Bay.
Jyrki Jokipakka (0 PIMs / 2 A / 13:29 ATOI) - Played 11:19 against the Panthers. See, sometimes, it's a matchup thing. Other times, it's a sign that maybe Jokipakka is about to tag out for one of the other would-be Stars defenders. As solid as he's looked at times, a breather wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Alex Goligoski (23:22 ATOI / 1 A / 48.05 CF%) - The top pairing takes a tumble this week. Uncharacteristic wobbles, but credit where credit is due, both Goose and Klingberg have managed to keep their mistakes for tanking an otherwise promising start to the season.
John Klingberg (55 CF% / 2 A / 3:43 APPTOI ) - Real bad against Tampa Bay, better but still rough against Florida. The Stars won both games, and Klingy had two assists. Even at his worst Klingberg finds ways to make good things happen.
Cody Eakin (41.58 CF% / 29 High-Danger Scoring Chances Against / 41.27 ZSO%) - That's a real fancy way of saying Eakin is presently being used in a checking role, which is about what we expected heading into the season. Listen, he's going to stay near the top (bottom?) of Stars forwards in terms of nasty things against by virtue of his role, still, it'd be nice to see at least one of the three stats mentioned improve.
Johnny Oduya (48.09 CF% / 19:34 ATOI / 1:42 ASHTOI) - It's not quite there yet. Not that Oduya has been bad. His team is 4-1, for Pete's sake. It's just a quiet, steady sort of 4-1. That gets you a quiet, steady sort of rating.
Jamie Oleksiak / Patrick Nemeth (DNP) - Holy crap, the six guys in the lineup are playing well enough to block their promising comrades. No, it does not make you a bad person if you hope the trend continues. Players have to fight their way onto good teams.
Antti Niemi (DNP) - Lose a game, lose a week. After what feels like forever the Stars have one of the good kind of goaltending competitions.
On the Shelf
Patrick Eaves - On the IR... again.
Curtis McKenzie - Nasty injury. Here's hoping for a quick recovery.
Travis Moen (Day-to-Day) - Missed his first game of the season in Florida, but could be back soon.