As if it is being summoned by the American Airlines Center gods, the Stars power play has been busy at home this preseason. That trend continued on Monday as Dallas racked up five power plays against the Avalanche.
Unfortunately, the chances did not lead to results. Dallas went 0-for-5 with the extra man and allowed an Avalanche power-play goal early in the third period. The good news? Both Dallas units had plenty of chances to convert and looked far more dangerous than the numbers show. Something that is far more noticeable this season is the number of players that look dangerous during the power play and get chances at the net.
“This forward depth is crazy,” Ryan Suter said of all of the threats on the power play. “When I have the puck, there are so many options, you just want to make sure you find the open one, the one that can make the next best play.”
The second unit, featuring Suter, Nils Lundkvist, Mason Marchment, Denis Gurianov, and Mavrik Bourque, was especially dangerous. Lundkvist scored the only goal for Dallas, his second of the preseason, just after their fifth power play had expired.
“I thought it was good,” Suter said. “I thought both units were moving it well. It would have been nice to score a couple but for a first time together, I thought it was pretty good.”
For Pete DeBoer and his staff, the uptick is promising. Of course, they would love to see pucks go in and wins on the record sheet. But as the preseason goes on, coaches look more for a slow build in all categories, which includes the power play.
That uptick has been obvious on the ice, especially Monday as Dallas looked more dangerous, had better structure and defensive play, and recorded over 40 shots in the game.
“I’m not looking for results,” DeBoer said. “It would be nice to win some games, but I am looking for us to make strides in how we’re playing. It’s not about wins or losses, we want to look like a dangerous team, an organized team, and every day we’ve got to take a step towards that.”
To the surprise of nobody, Jake Oettinger was excellent in net for Dallas. The 23-year-old stopped 27 of 29 shots, only allowing duplicate goals from point blank in the slot. It was a key game for Oettinger to get his confidence high heading into the regular season.
“It’s always fun to play games, it feels like training camp and summer has been long,” Oettinger said. “This is when the fun happens, when you get to play in games. If I could fast forward to next Thursday, I would. I am just trying to get myself in as good of shape as I can and get my game to where it needs to be so I am ready to hit the ground running.”
Dallas now has two road preseason games remaining and a lot of building blocks to work off of. So far, both road games have been excellent, two of the three home games have shown plenty of signs, and it seems that the team is beginning to play the way the coaching staff wants them to.
“Some steps in the right direction for sure,” DeBoer said. “I thought our first period wasn’t great. We challenged the group to get engaged a little more and I thought we did. When we got physically engaged in the game in the second and third, we started to look like the team that we have to be. We have to play with that identity. We’ve got to be heavy and hard and hard to play against. Over the last 40 minutes, we did a much better job of that.”
Sam’s Three Stars
- First Star: Artturi Lehkonen, COL (2 goals)
- Second Star: Pavel Francouz, COL (38 saves on 39 shots: .974%)
- Third Star: Jake Oettinger, DAL (27 saves on 29 shots: .931%)
He Said It
“I am already into it like that, I would have been pissed at Reeser [Jeff Reese] if he tried to pull me out of there,” Oettinger laughed about being pulled after two periods to rest. “I was happy to play the whole game. The last two games I have played felt like real games, the intensity has been good. I like where my game is at right now.”