The four game road trip the Dallas Stars are currently on got off to a dream start yesterday after a well deserved 5-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots and Jamie Benn, who has a quite brilliant 14 points over his last nine games came away with two goals.
I won’t lie to you folks, I was somewhat apprehensive ahead of this game. Coming on the back of a grueling 7-6 overtime win against the Avalanche two days previous, to then face a road trip which includes stops at Carolina, Washington, Pittsburgh and Detroit is about as tough a test as you can get. With any kind of road trip like this though, any coach will tell you, a team has to be steady, respectful, play strong and be prepared. The Stars checked all four boxes yesterday in what in the end was a fairly comprehensive win.
With the greatest of respect to the Hurricanes organization and their fans, we stand to face much sterner tests in the coming days but boy oh boy what a start! With this win, the Dallas Stars became the first team in the NHL to win 10 games on the still young season and to have done so on the road is a true testament to the team cohesion that coach Glen Gulutzan has instilled in these guys.
You can now see players like Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn pitching in, getting their noses dirty and taking the occasional sacrifice for the good of the team. There isn’t a better sight for either a team-mate or coach seeing players making that kind of contribution and with the Washington Capitals laying in wait Tuesday night, it’s going to prove an extremely useful team trait.
One player who stood out for me though was Mark Fistric. Having been a healthy scratch and seeming to struggle through the earlier games this season, he quite simply dominated his defensive zone. A couple of bone-crunching hits were thrown which served as a huge message to the ‘Canes in this game. ‘Fishsticks’ has widely been tipped to be a monster of a defense-man for years in a similar mould to one Derian Hatcher. Provided he can keep the pace up that he showed in this game, who knows; this season could quite easily become the making of that monster. Brilliant performance and that – coupled with Jamie Benn becoming something of a virtuoso – are two of the biggest reason why these are exciting times for Stars fans everywhere.