We are one month deep into the 2018-2019 regular season and it has surely been a wild ride for the Dallas Stars. With a new coach and new players (both rookies and players from other teams), the Stars went into the new season with a fresh mentality and new hopes for what the season – and probably post-season – might bring.
The Stars’ began the season with a bang, winning 3-0 against the Arizona Coyotes at the Stars’ home opener. Yes: the first game of the season was not only the Stars’ home opener, but also the first NHL win for coach Jim Montgomery and the first shutout of the season for Ben Bishop. Their second game was what many called “the Stars’ first big challenge of the season” as they faced the Winnipeg Jets – and won, 5-1.
After two more games at home, one against the Toronto Maple Leafs (another win, 7-4) and one against the Anaheim Ducks (a 5-3 win, thank you very much), the Stars’ went on their first road trip of the season. And that’s where trouble began.
Our boys don’t have the best record on the road, we know – but they lost against one of the smallest threats (and we are being nice on calling them a “threat” at all, to be perfectly honest) on the league: the Ottawa Senators (4-1, it was bad). The Stars then flew to New Jersey to play against the then-undefeated team of the league, and failed to be the ones to defeat the Devils for the first time this season, with a 3-0 loss.
After a necessary two-day break, the Stars came back home for three games, starting with a loss against the Minnesota Wild (3-1) but channeling their inner fire against the LA Kings and the Anaheim Ducks, with a 4-2 and 5-2 win, respectively. And then came the second road trip of the season, and this was a long one, with stops in Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, Washington, Boston, and Columbus.
To the surprise of no one, the first game of this roadie was not a good one, falling 4-2 against the Red Wings. The real surprise came after this. The Stars won their first road game of the season in Montreal, defeating the Canadiens 4-1, followed by a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Stanley Cup defending champions, the Washington Capitals, pushed the game to OT (overtime), but Jason Dickinson gave the Stars their first OT win of the season.
Then came Boston. Now, the Bruins’ defense is a tough one to break, and the Stars know that. Still, their performance was not the best, with the team relying heavily on goaltender Anton Khudobin (who was outstanding, by the way). Even so, the Stars went to OT again but lost after Brad Marchand scored the OT goal. So far on this second roadie, the Stars are 3-1-1, and if all goes according to plan, it could end as 4-1-1 tonight, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It has only been one month of regular season and the Stars are already dealing with some injuries. After being out for three weeks with a lower-body injury, Val Nichushkin made his season debut against the Anaheim Ducks. On the other hand, Alexander Radulov has been dealing with a lower body injury and there’s no word on when he will come back.
Connor Carrick has been placed on Injured Reserve (lower-body), with Marc Methot also dealing with a lower-body injury. However, our main concern is defenseman Stephen Johns, who has been dealing with “post-traumatic headaches”, and while he has been practicing (though not regularly), it’s unclear when he could come back.
So far, our scoring leaders are Tyler Seguin (who we hope will overcome his current goal drought tonight) with 3 goals and 11 assists, John Klingberg with 5 goals and 7 assists, and Jamie Benn with 6 goals and 5 assists. At the time of writing, the Dallas Stars are #3 in the Western Conference with 17 points, right behind Minnesota (18 points), with Nashville on the lead (22 points).
After the first roadie, we talked about how they seem to forget how to play when they are on the road, with something we call “the bug”, and while they seem to have found the cure for that on this second roadie, there were a few things on that Boston game that must be addressed and fixed – the biggest one being miscommunication. The Stars had various scoring chances that were missed because there was lack of communication and focus. Back to the first roadie, we also spoke about the scoring depth problem, which also seems to be improving. Thanks, Monty and company!
All in all, with ups and downs, some really good wins and some truly awful losses, this first month has been quite entertaining. We’ll see how this month goes – but most importantly, we hope Radulov, Carrick, Methot, and Johns will take their time to heal properly, and we will be here to celebrate their returns.