In case you haven't noticed, Dallas has a powerful hockey team once again. A shootout victory tonight against Anaheim helped maintain the Stars' position as one of three remaining NHL unbeatens.
The victory itself was a bit disturbing. The Stars got press last year for being the best shootout team posting a 12-1 record in such games. However, one third of those games and the shootout loss were the result of blown third period leads. The same way tonight's game shook down, with the Ducks posting two goals in the final frame to take the game into overtime.
We'll give the Stars a pass tonight, though. This was the second of games on back-to-back nights for Dallas with the team in the second half of a four game West Coast road trip. They played two periods of hockey at the level of dominance the Stars have displayed since the third period of the season opener. It was clear they had lost their legs and fought to claim a win.
And while there are clearly other factors involved, two acquisitions stand as the Stars primary reasons for the Stars early success: Eric Lindros and Mike Ribeiro.
Lindros' first Dallas rodeo could be his last. He signed a one-year deal with low risk for the Stars due to his past injury problems. It is clear why Doug Armstrong wanted number 88 in Dallas.
He has flashed his point-a-game talent and Tippet has taken huge advantage of his size and athleticism by putting him on the first line with Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow. His presence has opened up the offensive zone for Modano and raised Morrow's game to a whole new level. The line has combined for 15 points and a +12 in the first five games and helped ignite the power play after the teams 0 for 9 start. If Lindros can stay healthy, the fans will be glad Bill Guerin was sent packing.
Ribeiro is proving to be a steal. The Stars brought him from Montreal for Janne Niinimaa and a draft pick. His slick puck movement and surprisingly physical defense as the third line center gives this club a depth at center they have not had before. He has put guys like Hagman and Miettinen in postion to score creating tough matchups for the opposing team. We will be talking more about this guy as the season progresses.
These two players, along with the development of some of the Stars' younger players, has made this a better team, sans Guerin and Jason Arnott. The penalty killers, with Turco's help, remain strong and the power play is much more lethal making this a team that should not only be able to compete in what may be the league's toughest division, but should be better prepared for the second season.