My first reaction to this game: Dallas found the intensity and team structure that their head coach has been looking for…on the road again.
Wednesday's Stars-Avalanche preseason matchup was another example of the way that Dallas and Pete DeBoer want to play. From defensive coverage, neutral zone gaps, and forechecking, to special teams and goaltending, there is a lot to like about how a young Stars team played against a very NHL Colorado lineup, despite the Avs taking over the game late in the third period.
This was the third road game of the preseason for Dallas. The Stars have played very well and won all three. Should we worry that they have not looked the same in any of their three home games? DeBoer doesn't think so and has seen the natural uptick he expected overall.
"I am not overreacting to that, I just don't like those games," DeBoer said about the team's performance on the road vs at home. "If you look at our exhibition games, the games we won, we had some detail and a real compete ethic to our group those nights. That's not an accident, a lot of those lineups were guys trying to make the team. It's hard to manufacture that desperation in game one or two of preseason for guys that know they are going to be here. But that shouldn't be the case now, now it's go time."
If tonight was the final tryout for many of those Dallas bubble players, a few of them certainly made their mark. Others did not.
Among the most impressive was Riley Damiani. The 2021 AHL rookie of the year tallied his first goal of the preseason and finished with three shots and one post in only 12:52 time on ice.
The 22-year-old netted his first career goal last season during a seven-game stint with Dallas. Don't get me wrong, Damiani had a very good chance to make the NHL roster when camp began. But now with Ty Dellandrea expected to miss a few weeks with a hand injury, his chances, along with a few others, have certainly gone up. Three others on that list, Oskar Back, Fredrik Olofsson, and Fredrik Karlstrom, also impressed against Colorado on Wednesday.
As he has done since coming to Dallas late last season, goaltender Scott Wedgewood delivered a calm, solid performance in net. Stopping all 18 shots in two periods, he held his team in the game in the first few minutes and consistently made 'that' save when things broke down. Even better for Dallas is that those breakdowns were few and far between. With agruably one of highest rated goaltenders in Jake Oettinger backed up by a consistent guy like Wedgewood, Dallas looks very comfortable in goal heading into the season.
Sam's Three Stars
First Star: Alexander Georgiev, COL (32 saves on 33 shots: .970%)
Second Star: Scott Wedgewood, DAL (18 saves on 18 shots)
Third Star: Riley Damiani, DAL (1 goal)