Some thoughts and observations following Friday’s game that saw the Dallas Stars beat the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 at American Airlines Center.
The Stars did not a nice job of salvaging this homestand. After losing the first three, they rattled off three straight wins and outscored the opposition 15-5 in the process. They ended up going 3-3-0 on the homestand and came out with an 8-4-0 record overall. That overall record has them right in the middle of the things in a tight Western Conference and it’s probably going to stay tight all season long. The points are important, especially against teams from the West.
As for Friday’s game, it was another impressive effort overall and special teams again played a big part of how things played out. The Stars got a couple of big penalty kills early and then finally busted through on their third power play chance of the game to finally take the lead. They ended up going 4-6 on the power play and 5-6 on the penalty kill. Both ends of the special teams game have been trending up for the Stars here in recent games. They have eight power play goals in the last five games and are 20-23 on the penalty kill over the last seven games.
As for individual efforts, Loui Eriksson was great again with two goals and two assists. That’s four goals and three assists in the last two games. The goals have been typical Loui and some his assists have been slick. The redirection goal he scored off the pass by Mike Ribeiro to make it a 1-0 game was a work of beauty. And he finished off a nice play by Matt Niskanen, who made a slick move to slip by Derek Morris at the Phoenix blue line just before sending a cross-ice pass to Eriksson.
A couple of other notes on Eriksson. After Friday’s games, he’s tied for fourth in the league with nine goals and leads the league in plus/minus with a plus-13 rating. He’s also tops in shooting percentage (33.3%).
Brad Richards had another big game, registering two goals and one assist. He’s second in the league in points with 18 and second in assists with 12. Both he and Eriksson are riding five-game points streaks. That top line, which also has James Neal on it, is playing really well.
Mike Ribeiro chipped in with three assists and now leads the league with 13 helpers. Brenden Morrow had some great chances in the game and finally scored late in the game. It was the 200th of his career.
With 15 goals over the last three games the Stars are now averaging 3.42 per game, which is tops in the league. The goals against average is a respectable 2.67, which is middle of the pack (16th) in the league. As I mentioned, their special teams are trending up and so are things like shots for and shots against and stuff like that. Overall, they are playing very well. As Marc Crawford said after the game: “We are becoming a very good club.” And right now they look like a very good club. Long way to go, but right now there are a lot of positives.