Welcome To The Preseason! Where Everything Is Made Up And The Points Don’t Matter (But The W Is Nice Anyway)
More meaningless hockey games for us to glean meaning from rolls on with the Stars taking on Minnesota tonight.
If last night’s preseason game in Dallas was “knocking off the rust part I”, the Dallas Stars game versus the Minnesota Wild tonight was “knocking off the rust part II”. Less than 24 hours after opening preseason play with a loss and zero goals scored, Dallas rolled a fairly young lineup when they hit the road to face their northern Central Division brethren. Minnesota, on the other hand, rolled out a fair amount of players that could be on the ice for them on opening night.
Dallas walked away with the win, though it took overtime to get it done. After months without live hockey, nobody is going to complain about a little bonus hockey — at least, not when the points don’t matter yet.
Just like last night’s game, the Stars got off to a very slow start offensively. It’s still not anything I’m too concerned about since we’ve seen limited looks at the top six forwards playing at the same time so far this preseason. But it’s a habit that Dallas needs to break immediately, and one that they shouldn’t carry over from last season. With a lot of different personnel in the lineup, you do start to wonder if this is a system-related issue and not a rusty, haven’t played an NHL team in months kind of problem that will go away as the preseason rolls along.
Really, really hoping it’s the latter option.
SPECIAL TEAMS ARE SPECIAL
Overall, I think the special teams so far have looked decent. The penalty kill has been really good outside of the minor hiccup tonight that allowed Ryan Hartman to score shorthanded against his pseudo-former team. The entire Stars squad appeared to think that the penalty committed in the corner along the boards that had been called already.
The play was still alive, though, as evidenced by the fact that Miro Heiskanen was blown past by Hartman for the goal against. Heiskanen doesn’t often get beat because he’s quick like lightning every shift and is particularly adept at reading defensive plays like that and closing the gap quickly.
NOW WATCH ME WHIP, NOW WATCH ME ROOPE
Roope Hintz picked up pretty much where he left off at the end of the playoffs last season, which is very good news for the Stars that are counting on him being part of the depth-scoring solution consistently this season. After getting absolutely robbed on a highlight-worthy save by Alex Stalock, Hintz made the next opportunity count.
Roope Hintz. Still fast. pic.twitter.com/1dGTkW8EBG— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) September 18, 2019
GOALTENDING SHOWS OUT
Both Colton Point and Landon Bow played tonight and both had pretty nice outings. Bow looked like he may be close to being Ben Bishop’s backup sooner than later. Point, who struggled considerably in his first professional season last year, acquitted himself quite nicely by making a very tough save on one of the first shots he faced last night. He kept the Stars in the game when Minnesota pushed hard offensively, setting the team up for the chance to win in overtime.
BUT THE FORWARDS....NOT SO MUCH
After two preseason games, in my mind there’s no real frontrunner for the few open forward slots on the Stars’ NHL roster. Nobody has consistently stood head-and-shoulders above the others. Justin Dowling, who is among that forward group fighting for an opening night roster spot, may have put everyone else on notice with his overtime winner:
Justin Dowling -- fighting for a roster spot -- wins the game in overtime. pic.twitter.com/OsmcM6Ms7f— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) September 18, 2019
THEY SAID WHAT NOW?
The Wild’s announcers must be new to the Central Division. That’s the only thing I can think when they literally stated that Heiskanen’s only upside is offensive only right now when talking about the impact that Andrej Sekera will have in Dallas after signing here in the offseason.
I mean this quite sincerely: what, and I cannot stress this enough, have you been watching all this time?
They must have missed the play of Heiskanen all of last season, who was primarily partnered with Roman Polak for most of his first year in the league. I can understand how his excellent positioning, hockey IQ, good stick work, and ability to transition out of his own zone can be overlooked. After all, the Wild only played the Stars four times last season, losing to them three of those times.
Maybe they’ll watch him a little more closely this season, seeing as how they don’t see him play all that much.