The NHL season is now a week old, and believe it or not, teams are already separating themselves from their competitions within the various divisions. The Central Division, considered by many pundits to be one of the toughest around, has found an emerging team leader in the form of the Dallas Stars. Yes, it’s probably way too early to make any relevant predictions but the Stars are sitting at 3-0-0 and have only given up three goals so far this season.
Maybe the Stars new-found success can be placed at he feet of new head coach Robert DeBoer. Whatever plans DeBoer made this summer in putting the Stars back together after a quick postseason exit last year seem to be working. In all fairness, former head coach Rick Bowness already had plans in motion to restore the Stars to relevancy and keep them as competitive as possible in the Central Division. Remember, the Stars are only two years separated from a Stanley Cup final appearance in the Covid bubble tournament to salvage the remains of the 2020 season. With Bowness leaving Dallas at the end of May to return to his old stomping grounds in Winnipeg, he still left a lasting impact on the players and coaches alike with DeBoer, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin all expressing their respect and admiration for one of the top bench bosses in the NHL.
Whatever the case may be, Rick Bowness started something positive in Dallas and Peter DeBoer has been able to build on that momentum in the early days of the new NHL season so far. The Dallas Stars seem to be motivated by the mantra of scoring early, holding the lead and using their defense to swiftly control their opponents and with scores of 4-1, 5-1 and 4-1 this season, this mantra seems to be working.
The Stars entered training camp without their young, burgeoning superstar in Jason Robertson since he held out from any participation due to the distractions of contract negotiations. DeBoer was left at trying to figure out his top line which last season included Roope HIntz, veteran Joe Pavelski and of course the young Robertson. The top line question mark was settled with the Stars and Robertson wrapping up a new contract extension just in time for the regular season and the Stars’ top line is in full force. The results have been impressive with HIntz putting in two goals and three assists, Robertson contributing a goal and four assists and Pavelski finishing off with a goal and two more assists.
One of the areas that Peter DeBoer wanted to see improve this season was a more high-powered offense and in terms of the first three games this season, DeBoer certainly has seen the results of this training camp shift come into fruition. Veterans Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen certainly haven’t been outdone by the top line offense this season as they have put in a goal and three assists and two goals with another assist, respectively. Youngster Mason Marchment may be well on his way to becoming the new Jason Roberston this season and has already made a statement with three goals and two assists to add to the Stars offensive onslaught early on this season.
Jake Oettinger is Putting Up the Big D in Dallas
Jake Oettinger made many top ten lists for NHL goaltenders during the preseason and his performance so far in this budding season shows why so many people think highly of the 23 year old’s skill at protecting the pipes. In three games so far, Oettinger has allowed a total of three goals on 87 shots taken with a goals-against average of 1.00 and an equally impressive .966 save percentage. Of course, the season is young and teams are just settling down into their “grooves” right now but if Oettinger’s early success is any indication, the Stars are playing “lights out” between the pipes. If Jake Oettinger can keep up this performance through the mid-season grind, the Stars should be looking to stay very competitive in the Central Division and look for a number two or three playoff spot come next spring.