The Stars were shutout on the second night of a back-to-back by the Minnesota Wild, 0-1. Back-to-backs were the Stars’ weakness last season, and at first blush it seems that it could be a problem again this season. The Stars looked fatigued at times, mentally absent at others, and were totally stymied by Minnesota’s defense.
Only the Jagr-Roy-Eriksson line seemed to generate any offense, and even then it didn’t amount to much. Minnesota was content to clog the lanes and block shot after shot (26 blocked in total). Wild goaltender Josh Harding was named the 1st Star of the Game, but honestly didn’t have much to do until the end of the game when the Stars made a short-handed bid to tie the game.
Harding wasn’t even the best goalie in the game – neutral observers would award that title to the Stars’ rookie netminder Cristoper Nilstorp. The lanky Swede looked very composed yet active, using every bit of his 6’3″, 191 lb body to cut off angles to the net. The lone goal of the night came off of a Zach Parise blast that Nilstorp likely couldn’t see through the 3 bodies ahead of him. A few more performances like tonight, and Richard Bachman might have a hard time winning back the backup job – or the Stars might have a nice piece to trade at the deadline.
It would only seem natural for Stars fans to be frustrated after another back-to-back loss. “Here we go again,” they might be saying. I’d preach a little more patience in this instance though. This was the first back-to-back game after one week of training camp, and a team with many new faces that are still trying to learn how to play together. At the very least, the Stars kept the game close, which is an improvement over last year’s squad in the second game of back-to-backs. Let’s reserve our judgment just a bit, and enjoy the fact that hockey is back.