Now, onto my thoughts:
Kari Lehtonen was the story of the game.
Whew, now that we got that over with, let's go to the second story of the game that everyone wants to talk about _ the move of Cody Eakin to the second line, and the subsequent sterling performance of that line in scoring both goals in a 2-1 win.
As soon as Daryl Reaugh posted the pre-game video that hinted at a possible move by head coach Glen Gulutzan with the second line, the energy on the internet started to crackle. There was frustration in the fan base with the pace of the Jamie Benn contract negotiations, with what was perceived to be an underwhelming performance by Tom Wandell, and with the fact that this team really could start out 1-2-0 with a hard weekend upcoming against two of the best teams in the NHL _ Chicago and St. Louis.
People needed a sign, and they needed it now. They wanted to see some shuffling somewhere, they wanted to see the coach push some buttons. So he did. It was a subtle move. Tom Wandell is a talented center who played second line minutes in Russia. Cody Eakin is a talented center who played first line minutes in the AHL. Honestly, their games aren't that different.
And yet, chemistry is a funny thing, because that revamped line, with Eakin in Wandell's spot, shot out of the chute and created scoring chances early. And when Eakin made a nice save to keep a puck in the offensive zone at the blueline and then found Ryder, (who roofed a snap shot from distance), everything seemed right with the world.
Dallas scored 5:41 into a game that would be determined by goaltenders. It was exactly what Minnesota had done to the Stars on Sunday. It was exactly what the Stars needed to do to a Detroit team that had played the night before in Columbus.
That all speaks to momentum and timing and confidence _ and mental toughness, really. The coach challenged the team to be better, he made a change that allowed it to be better, and it responded and was simply…better.
The Red Wings came back, as a talented team will, and put the Stars on their heels. But, a balanced team effort, and another big goal by the Eakin line, sealed the game.
This time, after the Stars controlled most of the second period and put tremendous pressure on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, the Eakin line broke through early in the third. Dallas was close on several occasions, receiving strong scoring chances from Derek Roy, Trevor Daley and Wandell (who had a solid night on the fourth line with Reilly Smith and Ryan Garbutt). But it was Ryder again who had the difference-making shot.
Now, onto my thoughts: