In this edition of Dallas Stars’ News & Rumors, Jake Oettinger shines in his recent call-up and Jamie Benn has found his game with new linemates.
Oettinger Shining in First Opportunity This Season
Oettinger is the future in net for the Stars. There has been little doubt about that since they traded up to draft him 26th overall in 2017. However, after making his NHL debut in the playoff bubble in 2020 and exceeding expectations last season, Oettinger was forced to begin this season in the American Hockey League. As he has since his draft day, he took it like a professional and worked hard to get his next opportunity.
“I was playing pretty much every game down there. To just get the opportunity to know you’re playing all the time was really good for me. I think that’s the biggest thing I need, just more and more games. Obviously, practice is practice, but where I think I’m going to get the most work done is by just keep getting games and getting more comfortable. It’s a really hard position and a really tough league, so I just need to keep driving.”– Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger
When his chance finally came last week, he made the most of it. After being called up last minute due to the injury to Braden Holtby, Oettinger was then told he would start against the Detroit Red Wings the following night. He responded with an excellent performance in a 5-2 win for Dallas on home ice. Since his return to the NHL, Oettinger is 2-0-0 with a 1.43 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.
“It’s great to watch. He’s an extremely talented kid, he works hard and has a great demeanor. He came in at a time when we needed him to be real solid and he’s done it”– Stars goaltender Braden Holtby
With the injury to Holtby and the inconsistent goalie play so far this season, Oettinger has certainly changed the dynamic of the position for the Stars. Head coach Rick Bowness does not reveal any information on goaltenders until the day of the game, but his response of “it’s changed” gives a hint of what is coming in the near future. Now, the question for the Stars and their fans remains, is the future goalie also the answer in the present?
Benn, Raffl, & Gurianov Finding Success On New Line
Jamie Benn struggled offensively early in the season. On top of that, it was tough for Bowness to decide where he fit best in the lineup, at center or left-wing and on which line. Now, with the combination of Benn centering Denis Gurianov and Michael Raffl, all of those questions seem to be answered. After playing together through the preseason, this trio was finally reunited last week. The result, three goals in four games for Benn and the most consistent and dominant performances of the season from Gurianov and Raffl.
“They’re all physical. We tried to get everybody more involved physically tonight. We didn’t like our physical play in Minnesota and the guys responded to that tonight and I thought everyone was involved physically.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
The emergence of the captain and his line overall is huge for the Stars. The team struggled early to score and play consistently in their own end but has found their game as of late. The performance of Benn’s line has allowed Dallas to find consistency and chemistry in their lineup, something they have been looking to do for years. It has also seemingly gotten the best out of Gurianov who has struggled to play consistently since dominating in the 2020 playoffs. While he has not scored much, he is playing a better overall game and seems to be inching closer to re-finding his offense.
“He’s playing the right way right now,. He’s got all of the tools to be a very elite player. He’s going to get going on the scoresheet too very soon, I believe it.”– Stars forward Michael Raffl
The Stars continue their current three-game homestand with a matchup against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. While they remain five points out of a playoff spot, they have improved their standings and overall game over the past week and will look to continue that trend as we head into the holiday season.
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!