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5 thoughts Stars-Sabres
The Sabres won 3-2 in OT
The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime.
Here are my thoughts. They are for paid subscribers for 24 hours and will be unlocked tomorrow evening.
1. Roope Hintz returned to the lineup and the Stars eased him back into action, limiting him to 14 minutes, 38 seconds.
Hintz was noticeable in limited time. His skating created chances, and his in-zone decision making — power play assist to his credit — looked sharp even with time away.
In the third period, when the Stars needed a goal they moved Hintz back to the top line with Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson.
That trio remains one of the best lines in hockey, and Robertson tied the game at 2-2 in the third period.
You’ve heard this before, but it’s a top line in Dallas that can be deadly when creating off opposing mistakes.
And when Pavelski and Hintz combined to force the turnover below the goal line, it setup an easy finish for Robertson in front.
From a health perspective, Hintz performance on face-offs may be the most encouraging thing.
Face-offs are a battle, physically taxing, and for a player coming back from an upper-body injury, it’s a vulnerable moment. And Hintz went 10-for-11 on draws, not losing a face-off until the center-ice draw in OT.
2. Buffalo played fast and loose and it made for a fun first period.
The Sabres turned the puck over constantly and consistently failed to pick up proper coverages as the Stars entered the offensive zone. It lead to a barrage of chances for Dallas, and frankly the Stars should have scored a couple of times in the opening 20 minutes.
The overall play was a good reminder, in my view, of why the Sabres won’t make the playoffs this season.
Buffalo is technically in the playoff hunt, and has a bright future in general, but for now the lack of structure for long stretches is the difference between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, who will likely hold those wild card sports.
3 Let’s talk about Swedish defensemen.
First on Rasmus Dahlin, who scored on a power play blast in the first period.
Dahlin is on pace for 96 points this season, he could conceivably hit the century mark with a surge in the second half of the season.
He’s also refined his game in the defensive zone and has legitimately entered the Norris conversation.
Onto Nils Lundkvist, who watched this game from the press box.
Lundkvist was scratched for the third straight game in favor of Joel Hanley.
Hanley has played well, but because contracts make jobs — and not actual play — it’s never an internal question of Lundkvist vs. Ryan Suter or Jani Hakanpää and will always be a question of Hanley vs. Lundkvist.
Once you accept that frustrating reality, and it is a reality, you can properly discuss the conversation of Hanley vs. Lundkvist in this game.
And when it comes to the long and short-term development for the Stars, Hanley should have been scratched in this game. It’s one of the reasons the Stars signed Hanley, he can go in and out of the lineup with ease and understands that role.
Lundkvist is still early in his career, has a much higher ceiling, and when you’ve bet the equivalent of Jim Nill’s farm (you know how much he values first-round pick) you have to keep him playing.
4. Not Swedish, but a defenseman.
Owen Power scored the game-winning goal in overtime for Buffalo. Let’s take a quick look at how it developed.
The threat of a Tage Thompson shot drew the attention of all the Stars, including Jake Oettinger, who essentially committed to staying square to the big Sabres forward.
That commitment to focusing on Thompson allows Power to shift into a more wide-open shooting lane and you can see Oettinger is slower by a second to his left because of the threat from Thompson.
5. Some housekeeping things.
Frustrating news in the sports media world last week when Vox essentially decided to quit on hockey coverage, which included cutting funding/support to Defending Big D.
Defending Big D was, and still is, a vital part to the Stars community and extended coverage of the team. It was a space where voices and writers could develop and learn their craft. It was also a space to take the real temperature of the die-hard fan base, which is important to properly covering a team — after all, media coverage is just an extension of the game and this is really all about entertainment in the end.
I know the folks at DBD are trying to figure out what’s next. Hopefully they find a feasible solution.
I’ve been working on a newsletter project with former Stars goalie coach Mike Valley. It’s a daily newsletter that comes out Monday through Friday and acts as a TLDR-style snapshot of sports in DFW, including the Stars.
From an additional Stars perspective, we have recently setup a regular feature with Marty Turco for “Turco Tuesdays.” Turco is going to provide some insight, give his thoughts, and basically riff on DFW sports on a regular basis.Just had a great chat with for my new regular feature, "Turco Tuesdays," you've gotta sign up here for free so you don't miss it tomorrow morning.
Not related, but shoutout to David Castillo for building a Stars community discussion space on Discord. You can join that here if you are interested.