When the horn signaled the end of the game in Boston, the Dallas Stars had notched another one in the loss column—something that has plagued the team much of the season while on the road and contributed to their failing to make it into a playoff position with just five games remaining in their season. Of course, with the Boston Bruins starting goaltender in net and able to see all the shots he faced, it perhaps wasn’t surprising that Tuukka Rask earned his seventh shutout of the season.
“It basically comes down to we’ve had some bad luck scoring, we haven’t scored enough, so I think that’s the biggest issue,” head coach Lindy Ruff said of their road game woes. “You know, we scored one in Montreal, we scored one in New Jersey in regulation, and we didn’t score tonight, so I think at the end of the night, you know it comes down to a little bit of the offense.”
For goaltender Antti Niemi, it was his first start in seven games, and he probably wished to have the first goal back in which Brad Marchand was able to bounce it off the netminder before it went in. However, he didn’t seem to feel he was rusty.
“It felt good, had a pretty good warmup. I was excited to get in the game, it’s been awhile,” Niemi said. “Even giving up a couple goals, I had fun playing today.”
As the season winds down and with them having no chance of getting to the playoffs, it becomes a good chance to work with their younger players. One such young player who got called up was Julius Honka.
“Well, we’ve had a few games with him,” Ruff said Thursday morning before the game. “We want to play him to his strengths, which are, he’s a tremendous skater. We’re probably going to put him on one of our power play units and we just want to see him play his game.”
Honka had 23 shifts that totaled 20:06 of time on ice. And he did spend time on the power play—accumulating 2:26 of time with his power play unit. He and the other young players stepped up as Ales Hemsky ended up going down the tunnel due to an injury he’s been trying to work through and then the Stars lost Curtis McKenzie to an errant high stick from Kevan Miller that resulted in a serious injury very near his eye—which fortunately was spared.
“I thought they worked extremely hard. I liked what our young guys did, you know we lost a couple guys during the game, you know,” Ruff said after the game. “I think for the first time being in this building, I thought [Remi] Elie, [Jason] Dickinson, [Devin] Shore, those players did very well, played hard. Against a team that’s tough to generate, we generated enough probably to have a 2-1 game on them.”
As a veteran of the game, Tyler Seguin now offers advice to some of the young players, especially when they need to deal with a loss—which hockey players never like and some of the younger players newly called up to the NHL may worry more about.
“[I tell them to] learn from that night and try to move on pretty quickly, especially with young guys, you know. I’ve had linemates here for six, seven games in a row now and it’s just trying to talk with them, obviously not really yell or anything, just trying to talk and ease them through everything,” Seguin shared of his approach. “I remember, it feels like yesterday that I was the rookie, you know, I had Shawn Thornton yelling at me and I didn’t like when he yelled at me so I try to do it differently.”
Though only 25 years old, the Brampton, Ontario native has almost completed his seventh season at the NHL level. There aren’t many jobs where you can be considered a veteran at such a young age.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Seguin said of the strangeness of being a veteran. “I just played my 500th game last week, I mean it goes by quick. I can’t believe how fast it goes. Obviously time to keep growing up and take it day by day and be a good vet.”
Unfortunately for the Stars they continue their road trip. They will play the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday evening and then down to Tampa to take on the Lightning less the 24 hours later. They will then close out their season with a three-game homestand.