Star struck: High-octane Dallas puts the fun back in the NHL

Editor’s note: Cold As Ice correspondent Phil Stacey examines the reasons behind the hot start of the Dallas Stars.

Fun.

It’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of the style of play employed by the Dallas Stars. It’s that turn on the jets, fly up the ice, attack-the-net-and-ripple-the-back-of-it brand of hockey that is a welcome change in the modern NHL.

Stars-logo

Sure, the Stars play (somewhat) structured systems at times, and there’s a hint of defensive strategy, too. But Lindy Ruff’s team has young, exciting, fast forwards who know what to do in the scoring areas and make the most of the opportunities they get.

You don’t have to be a fan of the Dallas Stars—and quote chapter and verse on how Pat Verbeek’s best years were in the Lone Star State, how Rob DiMaio was an underrated treasure or that Eddie Belfour was the best thing to happen to goaltending since stackable pads—to appreciate the way they seemingly enjoy themselves every time they hop over the boards.

Tuesday night in Boston was the second of back-to-back roadies for the Stars, and a Monday loss in Toronto didn’t seem to affect them at all when they took on the Bruins. The visitors scored five times on 17 shots (finishing with 19), scored on three of four power play chances and got a hat trick from—oh, this is not what Bruins fans wanted to see—Tyler Seguin for a convincing 5-3 triumph.

It’s the above-mentioned zero-to-60 style of hockey that Dallas willingly plays that earned them four straight goals, turning a 2-1 deficit into a commanding 5-2 lead against Boston.

Filthy is the best way to describe the Stars’ top power play unit—particularly the triumvirate of John Klingberg as the quarterback, reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn as the ‘bumper’ and Seguin the trigger man. Seguin tied the game in such a fashion by ripping a one-timer from the top of the left circle past Tuukka Rask’s glove, with his two henchmen assisting. His third goal of the evening—drawing boos either for the player himself or for Bruins management for letting the prized sniper get away—came after Jason Spezza dished a pass to him along the off-wing wall and Seguin smoked a heater by Rask from just below the dot.

While it’s true Dallas is top-heavy, it’s a team capable of getting contributions elsewhere. Third pairing defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka’s first NHL goal proved to be the game-winner. Alex Goligoski took a backhand pass from the slot and tallied his first goal of the season, coming on the man advantage, to give the Stars a three-goal lead with less than 11 minutes to play. The third line of Antoine Roussel, veteran Vernon Fiddler and Colton Sceviour played with an in-your-face edge.

Defense remains very much a work in progress—no one came out to defend Boston blueliner Colin Miller in the high slot off a defensive zone draw, leading to Boston’s first goal, nor did anyone bother to check in on Loui Eriksson during a power play for the home team, leading The Man Who Was Traded For Seguin all alone for an easy rebound putback score—but that’s for another day.

The Stars are 10-3, playing some of the best hockey in the early stages of the 2015-16 season, and while they might not be ready to hang with teams like Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim over a seven-game postseason series, they sure are fun to watch.

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