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Five thoughts on Stars-Predators
Dallas won 3-2
First of all, Happy Holidays from all of us (me) at Shap Shots.
Second of all, let’s talk about how weird Dallas Stars coverage has evolved.
When the Stars ran line rushes on Tuesday morning in Nashville no one from an independent outlet was there to document it.
The Dallas Morning News is still in the process of replacing my old pal Matt DeFranks, who has moved to St. Louis to cover the Blues. Another publication that employs a beat writer didn’t travel for this one.
I’m sitting on a couch in the metro Detroit area, writing on a Substack. Not exactly mom’s basement, but pretty close to checking all the old blogger cliches.
Anywho… the Stars defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 and if you like game observations from a semi-knowledgable writer, I’ve got your fix…
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1. I had a conversation recently with Dimitri Filipovic on the PDOCast about how Alex Ovechkin has had two careers.
There was the dynamic rush offense, combined with a physical devil-may-care attitude early in his career. As he aged, Ovechkin morphed further into the one-man wrecking unit from that spot on the power play, you know the one, and was able to extend his career.
In that vain, I’m seeing similar adjustments made this season by Roope Hintz. Not into a one-timer threat, but adding a second scoring element.
Hintz has and will continue to be a rush threat, but his ability to use his skill and size around the net has been more prevalent this season.
That’s how he scored in the second period, tipping a shot by Jason Robertson, and he was in a similar spot to score the game-winning goal in the third period with just 53 seconds remaining.
Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn do the work in front of the net, and Hintz doesn’t over commit, but he reads the play well to get the rebound and flip home the game-winning tally from this spot.
(Hintz is the Stars player farthest away from you in this image)
Hintz has 10 goals and 16 points in the month of December. Pretty good way to end the calendar year.
2. Benn scored his 343rd career goal with the Stars, moving into second-place in franchise history.
Mike Modano is still No. 1 with 557 tallies… Benn isn’t going to catch him.
Benn’s goal was a bad turnover and an open lane conceded by Nashville, it was also a great wrist shot.
This angle tells a story for me.
Juuse Saros has a clean line, he’s square to the puck, not Benn’s body, and technically has done everything perfectly to set up a potential save.
But Benn beats him on the low glove side. Saros should make this save, especially with the shot location.
Benn’s goal came after a turnover caused by pressure from Tyler Seguin and Ty Dellandrea.
It was an early theme-setter for a forecheck that rattled the Predators.
Dallas and Nashville are the closest thing to a rival for each other — it’s why they played in the 2020 Winter Classic — and if there’s been a theme to the rivalry it’s been the ebbs and flows of the Stars forecheck.
When the Stars have been at their best against the Predators, it has started with the forecheck, no matter who the coach was (and there have been many), the Stars have seemed to find their forecheck against the Predators.
3. Jake Oettinger lost his skate blade on the Predator’s first goal.
As he pushed left to right, his blade popped out and had to be quickly replaced by the Stars equipment staff.
I’m not blaming the equipment malfunction for the goal, but this is a perfect time to talk about the skates that Oettinger wears.
Oettinger wears the new Bauer KONEKT skates, which essentially look like ski boots. The skates are extremely light, many goalies have switched to them, but they have had some durability issues and have had more instances of goalies losing a blade than competitors.
I’ve spoken to some NHL goalies who have tried the new Bauer skate, but haven’t committed to it fully. For example I spoke to one goalie, who is a Bauer client for everything, who told me he still travels with a pair of True skates as a backup because he’s not sold completely on the durability of the KONEKT.
Also, this allows me to remind you that I wrote a fun story about this trend and the opposite side of the spectrum back in October.
4. For whatever reason I’ve always liked Yakov Trenin’s game.
It’s far from consistent, but when Trenin is playing well he’s a human exclamation point that can impact the game in a multitude of ways.
His shorthanded goal that made it 2-2, was a combination of offensive poise and awareness, he used Ryan Suter as a screen and picked the top corner against Oettinger.
Suter, as I wrote about for D Magazine, is playing a larger role than he should be at this point in his career. He’s a fine third pairing defender, albeit with a bad contract, but the extended trust he’s been given on the power play is frustrating.
5. Fredrik Olofsson is a good story.
He was drafted in 2014 — yes, the Honka draft — by the Chicago Blackhawks, but never found a lane to North American success and returned to Sweden after a four-year NCAA career.
Because of the NHL’s late withdrawal from the Olympics, Olofsson was able to represent his country in China. His Olympic play, combined with his two-way play in the SHL, grabbed the Stars attention, and they signed the free agent winger as a depth piece on a one-way contract.
And on Tuesday he made his NHL debut against the Predators.
Olofsson played the game he’s played in the AHL, it was simple, yet effective, and he nearly scored in the third period but missed the net on a point-blank chance.
Assuming the Stars remain healthy, Olofsson is never going to be anything more than an AHL call-up piece for Dallas, but he was impressive enough in his debut to make sure he gets at least a second opportunity.