There was a lot to like in the Dallas Stars 4-1 victory on opening night in Nashville. They received goals from newcomers Mason Marchment and Wyatt Johnston, controlled the play for most of the night, dominated the special teams battle, and played a very solid team game.
“Our special teams were good, our goaltending was good, our young guys all came into a really tough building and battled hard and didn’t look overwhelmed,” Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “There was a lot of good things. But this is an 82-game season, so we’ve got to do it again Saturday night.”
The end of that quote is the kicker. It was only one game. Yes, it was an essential first step for a team that had so many moving parts heading into this season. But the work has just begun and the road to becoming a consistent and elite team is a long one.
For DeBoer and his club, there is still plenty to improve on to get to where they want to be. That has been the theme echoed throughout camp and the preseason and it continues to be said after game one. The bottom line is that the new style and cohesion of this team may not fully come together until a few months into the season.
“There’s also lots of things [to work on],” DeBoer continued. “We got sloppy in our breakouts, we got pinned in our zone for extended periods or we took some penalties. So there’s always lots of things to work on.”
So how does the coaching staff analyze this stuff?
For fans and media, it can be easy to swing high and low with the performance of the team on any given night. For coaches and players, one of the most vital skills needed to be successful is the ability to maintain your emotions and see things as a big picture. It’s important to have the right perspective or you can easily get lost in the ups and downs of the season. That’s where experience comes in, and Dallas has that in bunches.
“Just perspective, I think we’ve got a good perspective,” DeBoer said.
"This is the first step in trying to build this," he added. "It's not going to be everything we want on day one, and we can't overreact to that, but it's the first chance to start setting some building blocks on the foundation."
Step one is complete. They won a tough road game, earned two points in the Central Division right off the bat, and got their feet wet with the new system in regular-season play. Now, it’s time to turn around and do it all over again against the same opponent on Saturday in Dallas.