The Dallas Stars are one game away from opening the 2022-23 regular season. While there is plenty of pressure on that day alone, there are a few factors that will make it an even steeper challenge.
First, Nashville is returning a huge portion of their team from last season. They had an excellent and surprising year and saw a few key veterans re-find their offensive side. Second, they have already played two games, opening the season with back-to-back games in Prague against the San Jose Sharks. Mix that with the fact that Dallas has a ton of new faces on the ice and behind the bench and a brand-new system, it should be a tough challenge on Thursday in Music City.
“It’s going to be tough,” Head Coach Pete DeBoer said Tuesday. “I watched the San Jose games, they talked about them looking like they are in midseason form. You’ve got a veteran group of guys that had a real good year last year, same systems. They look like they’ve hit the ground running and they’re two games in already, which helps. So it’s a big test for us and we obviously want to get off to a quick start.”
The Predators are off to a 2-0-0 start after defeating San Jose 4-1 and 3-2 over the weekend. But for Dallas, the approach will stay relatively similar to that of the preseason. First, focus on themselves and their team game, then worry about the opponent.
“We have to focus a lot on ourselves,” Jacob Peterson said. “It’s the first game and we’ve got stuff to work on from the preseason games. We know what we’ve got to work on, we know what we can do better, and we know what we did good. Nashville, they are a good team. They played two games, so we’ve got to be on our toes from the beginning. But I think we’ve got to focus more on ourselves to get our game, then we will see about Nashville.”
Dallas begins the season with three straight divisional games. After a home-and-home with arguably their biggest rivals, they will play host to the Winnipeg Jets and former Head Coach Rick Bowness. In a way, it is the perfect start to a season and should give the Stars all of the excitement and motivation to hit the ground running.
“They started really well in Europe,” Esa Lindell said of Nashville. “I always like playing against Nashville either here at home or in there because it’s always a rivalry game, good crowd, and I am just excited to get the season going.”
The first few shifts of a new season can be daunting, especially for players who have not been around long. The Stars will have quite a few of those in Wyatt Johnston, Nils Lundkvist, Jason Robertson, Jake Oettinger, Ty Dellandrea, and Jacob Peterson.
For these guys, and the team as a whole, it is vital to find a way to stay composed and get themselves into the game early. This will be amplified by the extremely hostile and loud environment in Nashville and the heavy push the Predators usually put on early in home games.
“I think be a little bit calm because everybody wants to get out there and just go and just play,” Peterson said. “To be a little bit calm and enjoy the moment more. The first two, three shifts, you are going to feel it but then you are going to feel like normal.”