Cristopher Nilstorp- He was easily the best player on the Stars, saving 31 of 32 shots. He gave the Stars a chance and kept them in the game, especially when they were in penalty trouble in the first period. He made five huge saves from in close while on the Penalty Kill. He made 8 saves before Zach Parise scored his 1st goal in a Minnesota Wild uniform. The goal came as a Stars penalty expired, making it an even strength 4-on-4 goal. Nilstorp seemed very calm and comfortable in net, showing, through at least the first game, that he’s NHL-ready. And his mask is awesome.
A green-tinted Batman in front of a moon? yes, please.
Benn and Larsen redemption- Larsen was rusty last game and Benn made a huge turnover against the Coyotes resulting in a goal. This game, they both had strong performances. Early on Benn was very active moving the puck out of the zone and he continuously played strong and physical in the defensive zone. Larsen was much better at outlet passes than he was against the Coyotes. He was aggressive on defense and showed great energy. This is what I hope and expect to see a lot more of from these two youngsters.
4th line- yet again, the Stars’ 4th line seemed to be the most active and generated the most energy. They spent most of their ice time on Minnesota’s half of the ice and gave the Wild defense a handful. They didn’t cycle the puck as much this game, but they found a way to constantly get the puck in the zone and get it at the net. They managed 6 shots on net and several more blocked before they reached Harding.
Puck movement- This was blatantly the worst aspect of the Stars’ game in my opinion. True it could very easily be affected by fatigue, but nonetheless, it was a major issue. The Stars could not move the puck out of their own zone most of the night. The Wild kept throwing either two forecheckers deep or one deep while the other attacked the outlet pass at the blue line. Brenden Dillon stood out to me as the most efficient defenseman at getting the puck out of the zone. Once they did get out of the zone, the Stars had a frustrating time on offense. The Wild suffocated the Stars at the blue line. They were rarely able to enter the zone by carrying the puck in. And when the Stars tried to dump-and-chase, the Wild would almost always have a player (or two) already on the puck before the Stars could reach the red line. When the Stars did get in the zone, there would be very little support attacking the rebound or being in position for the centering pass. Jagr skating into the zone along the boards seemed to be the only thing that worked consistently.
Power Play- after going 2-for-4 against the Coyotes, the Stars went 0-for-4 against the Wild. Their Power Play reverted to the look of last season where they had difficulty entering the zone. The few times they did manage to get control of the puck in the zone, if the puck wasn’t immediately turned over and cleared, the Stars would make a few passes and work out about 20 seconds of the Power Play.
Top line- After Jagr, Roy and Eriksson combined for 7 points and 9 shots, they only mustered 3 shots, all of which came from Jagr. Early on they seemed to be the strongest line, but the Wild seemed to focus more on shutting them down and the 4th took over in creating opportunities.
Fatigue- Simply put, the Stars looked flat. And flat-out tired. Mentally and physically. Eriksson stood out to me, you could just see his fatigue every shift, until the last chance of the game where he beat Spurgeon deep in the zone and centered a pass to Whitney only to be robbed by Harding to seal the game. The Stars were 1-11-2 in the second game of back-to-backs last season and the trend seems to be continuing this season. We can give them a little slack considering the lack of a training camp and shortened season, but it’s evident this is a major aspect of their game that the Stars need to fix if they are to be successful this season.
3-man PK- Fiddler-Dillon-Robidas
3-man PK- Nystrom-benn-daley
- Brenden Morrow was hit in the face with the puck and headed straight to the locker room with 5:36 left in the 1st period. After getting some medical attention he returned to the bench wearing a visor and sporting some bandages.
After Morrow was hit with the puck.
Arguably Nilstorp's best save of the night was this one where he stopped a one-timer during one of the PKs in the 1st period.