Dallas Stars drop their first game of the shortened season to the Minnesota Wild.
You’ve all heard the record: 1-11-2. That’s the record the Stars posted in the second game of back-to-back games. Call them “tired,” “undisciplined” or whatever else you want to call them, if the Stars are to make the playoffs, especially in a shortened, condensed season, Dallas will have to improve on that record. The Stars will have to wait until January 29th when they travel to Detroit after hosting Columbus as Dallas dropped a very lack-luster decision to the Minnesota Wild by a score of 1-0. This is a team that cannot rely on excuses such as “being tired;” not with how Dallas has been constructed in the last 7 months. The Stars are a team that is obviously older, but it also needs to be pointed out that this team is smaller. As James Mirtle from The Globe and Mail and TSN1050 analyst pointed out in a recently tweeted chart, Dallas ranks second-to-last in weight and fourth-to-last in height, the Stars will get pushed and knocked around, and often. Generally a team that finds themselves worn out has a tendency to take what I like to refer to as “out of position” penalties. These are typically your hookings, holdings, and interference calls. A player who is often stuck on a long shift is more prone to find themselves out of position or about to get beat by a fresher opponent and will take one of these lazy penalties. However, just as Jaromir Jagr showed last night, age is just a number. Despite being 40 and playing the night after a game and travel, Jagr found himself being whistled for a holding call at 6:47 of the first, however, he wasn’t out of position. Jagr was in the offensive zone and was attempting to outwork the Wild defense and as he stuck his hand out, Kyle Brodziak spun around to draw the holding call. It put Dallas on the 3-on-4 penalty kill and just as the PP expired for Minnesota, their newest superstar, former New Jersey captain, Zach Parise blasted a shot from the high slot past Cristopher Nilstrop who was making his first appearance in the NHL. The Stars had a scary moment at 14:24 of the first while on the power play, Stephane Robidas attempted to push the puck deep from the point and the puck found captain, Brendan Morrow right along the right side of his face from mid-nose to the corner of his mouth. Morrow would return to log 13:21 of ice time, but would not factor in the game. Nilstorp was great in his first start, stopping 30 of 31 shots. His counterpart, Josh Harding was perfect as he disallowed all 24 shots he faced, however he had significant help from his Wild teammates. At one point in the 3rd period, the Wild had 22 blocked shots to Dallas’ 8. The Stars fired the puck, but all too often, it was into the skates or logo of a Minnesota skater. Dallas is going to have to find a way to take that extra step or throw an extra head bob to get the defenders to bite just one time to have a more clear shot at the net. Teams spend hours on end practicing tip plays in front of the net (the Stars included). Players are more willing to stand in the lane and take shots directly. This game was sluggish. It was played as if a bunch of 40-year old guys played the night before and didn’t arrive until 1:30 in the morning. But the positive is it’s the 2nd night of 99. It is the 2nd game of 48. Hockey players are known for their short term memories. Dallas put the win last night behind them, as was evident in tonight’s play. The important thing is they put tonight out of their mind going into a day off tomorrow before facing a very…uncharacteristic Detroit Red Wings team. As the world’s most famous ginger reminds us, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” The puck will drop again on Tuesday.