In this edition of Dallas Stars’ News & Rumors, Dallas gets their first preseason win in El Paso, Jason Robertson is picking up where he left off, and Jake Oettinger continues to struggle.
Stars Record First Preseason Win in EL Paso
After a few losses, Dallas recorded its first win of the preseason on Sunday night. The Stars faced off against the Arizona Coyotes in the Kraft Hockeyville 2020 game in El Paso, Texas. The game was a huge success after being postponed last season due to COVID, the Stars win being the icing on the cake.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said of the game played in the cozy atmosphere. “It was a great game for the fans, it was a great game for us. It’s been a wonderful experience.”– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
It was a great event as well as a much-needed win for a Stars team that has struggled so far in the preseason. The key to success was the play of their special teams, likely a huge factor in the success of this season. Making big plays was even more important after Dallas recently blew a third-period lead, losing past regulation twice in the previous games.
“We needed that,” Bowness said. “The penalty kill came up with a huge kill in the third, and the power play came up with the game-clinching goal, so we needed that.– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
The Stars finish up their preseason schedule this week with a home matchup against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday and two games (home & away) with the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and Saturday.
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Robertson Picking Up Where He Left Off
Jason Robertson was the runner-up for the Calder Trophy after an incredible run in the second half of the 2020-21 season. However, things did not happen right away for the young forward as he struggled early in the season. After serving as a healthy scratch, he found a way to make a difference in each game. Not only did he make plays but he fought hard to get into the tough areas on the ice, playing the style of hockey necessary for success in the NHL. So far in the preseason, he has picked up exactly where he left off.
“At the start of last year, he wouldn’t have done that,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said after Robertson battled through an unfortunate shot to the groin to score a goal Wednesday in a preseason game against Florida. “It hurt to score a goal, but he hung in there. Those hard areas, if you want to score in this league, you have to go to the hard areas, which he wasn’t doing when he first started last year, but as the season went on, he got much better at it.”– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
While Stars fans hope Robertson can avoid the sophomore slump, the key to his success will be persistence. Last season, he took the league by surprise, scoring 39 points in the final 39 games. However, teams will be leaning on him this season, far more aware of his abilities.
“We talked to Robo right after the season about that second year,” Bowness said. “Everyone knows who you are now, the matchup changes on the road now. You’re not against the third pairing, you’re against the best D, so you have to play through those things, and you have to grow and learn from them.”– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
Oettinger Struggling in Preseason
It has been a strange offseason for Jake Oettinger. After exceeding expectations in his first NHL season, he represented Team USA at the World Championships and watched as Dallas added yet another goalie to their roster in Braden Holtby. While the goalie situation was already blurry, it became anyone’s guess who would start in net on opening night. For Oettinger, however, he simply put his head down and got to work.
“I don’t really think there are a lot of changes for me,” Oettinger said. “I’m really confident in my game and what I did last year, and I’m just going to continue to build on that. I think I have a lot in the tank and I can help this team win. Now, it’s my turn to go out and prove that. They’re giving me an opportunity to earn my spot, and that’s all I can ask for.”– Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger
Unfortunately for Oettinger, he has not played his best hockey so far in the preseason. Not only have his numbers been poor but many of the goals against have looked stoppable. In his most recent start, he recorded a win but struggled with a .823 save percentage against the Arizona Coyotes. In his previous game against the Florida Panthers, he held a .893 save percentage and watched the Panthers make a late comeback to win the game in the shootout. For the young goalie, this was the second straight loss past regulation, a demon from last season fresh on the mind of the Stars.
“That’s last year. We’re just working now on this year,” Bowness said when asked about the overtime and shootout woes. “We’ll fix it.”– Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness
Oettinger will likely play in one of the Stars’ final three preseason games this week. It is vital for him to play well to put one last bit of doubt into the minds of the coaching staff. If he doesn’t, it will likely be Holtby and Anton Khudobin in the net for Dallas to start the season.
As Dallas hits the final stretch of the preseason, they have reduced their roster, shuffled some lines, and put together some good and bad hockey. In the final week, we should find out everything we need to know heading into opening night on October 14.
Sam Nestler is a 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 NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!