The return of Rick Bowness has been delayed, as the former Stars Head Coach tested positive for COVID a few days before his Winnipeg Jets traveled to Dallas. After morning skate, current Stars coach Pete DeBoer showed his respect to the longtime NHL coach.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” DeBoer said. “When I took the job, some of my opening comments reflected on that. I think he did a fantastic job here in laying a foundation of defending and being hard to play against and playoff success in hockey. His fingerprints are on this group from his time here.”
I believe that is something that is very overlooked in Dallas.
Yes, the fan base grew frustrated with the defense-first style of play that Bowness emphasized. And yes, the Stars had serious issues when it came to putting the puck in the net on the other end. But visiting coaches and teams consistently spoke of the Stars as being a very tough team to play against and one that you can never take a night off against. A lot of that attributes back to the lessons that Bowness implemented on the players that are now part of the corps of this team.
Although DeBoer brings a new style of play, he is well aware and hyper-focused on not losing that foundation that Dallas has built.
“You’re not starting from the ground up here,” DeBoer said before training camp. “We want to keep some of the really good things this organization and previous coaches have done. They built an identity of being hard to play against and defending well. So this is more about finding a happy medium where we keep some of the really good things and add some other layers to that.”
While Bowness will not get his reunion, there are still two big Central Division points on the line on Monday night. With a victory, the Stars can move to 3-0-0, increase their lead on the division early, and put themselves in a great spot ahead of a four-game Eastern Conference road trip.
The focus for Dallas is to just keep getting better. DeBoer has liked what he has seen in his new system so far but there is a lot of room for growth.
“We found a way to win, we did some good stuff, but everything we’re doing has to get a little better,” DeBoer said. “It's early in the season, that’s normal. You wouldn't want to be peaking right now and I don't think anybody is. But you can't look at the standings and go ‘oh, we’re in a good place’. When you watch the tape, it becomes obvious all of the areas we still need to get better at, and that's everywhere.”
One area that Dallas can certainly improve is taking fewer penalties. In two games against Nashville, the Stars racked up 25 penalty minutes, giving the Preds nine total opportunities with the extra man. Looking on the bright side, they only cashed in on one of those chances, their lone power-play goal coming at the end of a 5-on-3 scenario.
On the flip side, the Dallas power play has looked elite early in the season. They went 2-6 in the two-game series against Nashville and looked dangerous in nearly every opportunity.
A large part of that comes with the personnel. There is something about the players on both units that makes this Dallas power play far more intimidating. Here are the units so far:
The puck movement has also been noticeably quicker than in previous seasons. In moments where a player might’ve skated or held onto the puck to make a play, instead, they have made a quick pass, moved their feet, and opened up lanes by letting the puck do the work. That, along with the new mindset of attacking the net at all times has made this group successful so far.
“I liked that we scored a couple and we could’ve had more,” DeBoer said. “I thought we had a real attack mindset. For me, puck movement and an attack mindset are what make a power play dangerous and I thought we had both those things. In zone, we were snapping the puck around and creating looks. And as importantly, on breakouts off the rush, we were attacking.”
Stars Projected Lines
Jets Scouting Report
There is a lot of unknown surrounding the Winnipeg Jets this season. They have been all but counted out by most experts, and have a new coach that is returning to one of his first jobs, yet they still have a solid corp of players like Mark Scheifele, Connor Hellebuyck, and Kyle Connor.
“When you write down their lines and their goaltending, it’s a really solid group," DeBoer said. "The NHL is a hard league to win in and you need a lot of things to go right. I was in a similar situation in Vegas, with a good team on paper that derailed. That’s on every coaching staff, including ours here, to try to get it on the rails and going the right way.”
The Jets have only played one game this season, a 4-1 victory over a very good New York Rangers club. Nicolaj Ehlers and Scheifele led the way with two points each and Hellebuyck was special, stopping 40 of 41 shots (.976%).
He Said It
“Being liked and respected, it’s really hard to be both,” DeBoer said. “Rick [Bowness] is one of those guys that has that ability to do both those things. I think we all like to think we can do a little bit of that, but he’s got that down pat.”