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Five thoughts on Stars-Wild
Dallas won 4-1
The Dallas Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Thursday.
These are my observations, for paid subscribers only for 24 hours. They’ll be unlocked for everyone else tomorrow evening.
1. Tyler Seguin has been taking a physical beating this week, back-to-back games have featured ill-advised head contact featuring Dallas’ No. 91.
He’s also been playing rather well.
(And this was all written up before he scored his second goal to make it 4-1.)
Seguin’s cap hit is always going to be a discussion point, which is fair, but it’s important to remember how much Seguin has battled back to get healthy since he dragged his injured body through the 2020 Stanley Cup bubble run.
During his time away from the Stars, Seguin considered retirement in January of 2021 and wondered if he’d ever get back. He did make it back for a trio of games during the 2020-21 season, but even with 81 games played the following year “100 percent” was still a foreign concept.
This is now the closest thing we’ve seen to a healthy Seguin since the 2018-19 season.
It’s been refreshing to watch. It’s nice to be able to talk about Seguin without having to think about the cap implications every second.
I was at the NHL Board of Governor meetings in early December, and I was talking to a team exec from another team, and because of my history covering the Stars we started discussing Dallas and Benn and Seguin.
The conversation actually started with, “Hey are you the Sean Shapiro that Jim Lites vented to a couple years back?”
After that “fun” trip down memory lane, this exec shared his opinion of Benn and Seguin and the way the Stars have progressed.
“If this is who they are now, well, that team can win this whole thing. Especially since they only have to be the supporting cast,” they said.
2. Seguin kicked off a theme of scoring on tipped point shots when he scored his eighth goal of the season to make it 1-0 in the first period.
Wyatt Johnston scored on a tip in the third period, so did Jamie Benn.
Ryan Suter, Nils Lundkvist, and Jason Robertson had the primary assists.
Even with different names on the scoresheet, each goal felt like a carbon copy of the first one with a simple formula. Bodies to the slot and the front of the net, shots lowish (about 18 inches off the ice) and shot with pace so that even if they weren’t tipped they still require the goalie to do some work.
Picking one at random, look at Johnston’s stick on the second goal (No. 53 in white) and the target he’s creating for Lundkvist to shoot through while traffic develops behind him.
3. I’d love to see the Wild scouting report for Jake Oettinger.
There were multiple incidents throughout the game where the Wild took what felt like ill-advised shots, particularly on plays where Oettinger was setup against the post.
And then late in the first period they scored that way when Kirill Kaprizov banked a shot off the back of Oettinger’s head from the corner.
Oettinger is in the RVH here, also known as a post lean, but he’s not really leaning against the post — you shouldn’t be able to cleanly read “OETTINGER” as well as you can in the photo below. His head is almost hovering farther out, which can help with tracking on passes, but also can create a potential backboard for a world-class shooter.
Stars goalie coach Jeff Reese, I’m sure, will have a conversation with Oettinger about this. If the Wild are picking up on it, and the Wild TV broadcast even noticed it, then other teams will take note as well.
4. Oettinger got caught in that moment, but I thought this was also an important game that showed why he’s a bona fide No. 1 in the NHL.
Goalies are overly technical now, they have goalie coaches from the time they are young kids, and in many cases it’s created a position of robots that don’t have much creativity.
And when a robot’s programming goes slightly haywire, it can’t perform.
Oettinger isn’t a robot. He’s technically great, but he’s also got a bit of the athletic flair and most importantly an attitude that his technique is important, but not the most vital thing to stopping the puck.
Great goalies have this attitude. Oettinger is a great goalie.
5. Some additional notes.
Give me more of Colin Miller on the power play. Liked seeing the Stars role him out in that spot in the third period.
Johnston could have been playing for Team Canada at World Juniors right now, in fact that was kind of the plan before the season started. Now he’s tied for the NHL rookie lead with 11 goals.
Minnesota thought they had scored with 1:04 remaining but it was called off after an offside review. Add another chapter to the legend of Kelly Forbes.