It's so hard to read exactly what to take out of a preseason exhibition against your AHL affiliate, but I will fall back on the old Alex Auld line and say this is much better than the alternative.
The Dallas Stars were afraid they might lose to the Texas Stars, and they kept that in the back of their minds en route to a 5-1 victory against the kids.
``It's an American Hockey League team, but if I was on the other side I would give everything I have,'' said defenseman Stephane Robidas. ``You've got everybody from the organization here, so you have nothing to lose. It was kind of scary for us coming into a game like this. We didn't want to look bad.''
The Dallas Stars didn't. They appeared to grasp the concepts of Marc Crawford hockey a whole lot better after a couple days of team building and practice in Cedar Park, and they seemed more confident and more calm. That's huge coming off of that St. Louis game, where it would have been very easy for the players to question the system. But Jeff Woywitka, who is very much making a case to be in the lineup on Saturday against Nashville, did exactly what Crawford had in mind when he activated from the point, pushed up behind the net and threaded a pass to Mike Ribeiro in the slot for one of the goals. It was a clear display that taking a few risks can pay off.
`That was a very nice goal, and a sign of what we can do with our offensive defense this year,'' Crawford said.
The goalie situation was a little weird as Alex Auld started for Texas and Marty Turco started for Dallas. Turco did not allow a goal on 12 shots, but he was out of position early when Matt Beaudoin rang one off the post. Still, this was a nice stepping stone for Turco after a bad night last Saturday against St. Louis. It was something he needed. Auld was under fire, so it was tough to read his performance. The first two shots were screened or deflected, and the Ribeiro shot was a nice one that went against the grain.
As for the Texas Stars goalies, Brent Krahn actually looked pretty good in net playing for Dallas and Matt Climie was very good against heavy pressure while playing for Texas. Climie got beat on a scorcher off the stick of Fabian Brunnstrom and on a puck that deflected up over his head and behind him.
Brunnstrom looked much better, and seemed to be a decent fit on a line with Brian Sutherby and Krys Barch.
The top two lines (in whatever order you want to put them) looked great. Neal-Richards-Eriksson had a bunch of chances, and Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn looked like it was developing chemistry.
Ott-Modano-Petersen was fine. It doesn't need to be great every night, just quietly effective.
Jere Lehtinen could skate in practice on Thursday, so that opens up the possibility of him being in the lineup Saturday. We'll see how that works out.
As for the arena, the crowd was into it. They announced 6,223, which looked pretty accurate (with a capacity of 6,800). The Texas Stars are a work in progress and they're battling some key injuries, but I think they'll be fine. The Dallas Stars will face a much tougher team on Saturday, but this was a nice boost for the team right now, and one that was probably needed.