Stars coach wanted team to emulate ‘The Patriot Way’
On the surface, comparing the 2018 Dallas Stars to the New England Patriots might seem a touch outlandish.
But when head coach Jim Montgomery said his team needed to emulate the NFL’s model franchise, he did it in a very specific way.
Following his team’s 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, Montgomery said he wanted the younger players to adopt the next-manup mantra so often preached by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
His players, particularly the young call-ups embraced that challenge, despite suffering a 5-4 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center Saturday afternoon.
“They (the young players) battled and played hard,” said Stars center Jason Spezza, who was honored by teammates and players around the league before and during his 1,000th career NHL game.
“It would’ve been a feel-good moment for us to win the game. That’s one of the best teams in the league and we played with them and probably should’ve won tonight.”
“That should spring board us, knowing that with the injuries that we can still compete every night and be good.”
Those injuries have forced the Stars to play short-handed in some form or another for much of this young season.
Saturday, the Stars were without defensemen Marc Methot (lower-body), John Klingberg (upper-body), Stephen Johns ( post-traumatic (headaches)) and Roman Polak (illness). Montgomery was also without the services of fowards such as Alexander Radulov (lower-body) and Martin Hanzal (recovering from back surgery).
Defenseman Roman Pollak also missed Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators, the best team in the Western Conference standings, due to illness.
Klingberg remains second on the team in points with 13 (5 goals, 8 assists), but reports indicate he is expected to miss at least three weeks.
But their replacements filled in admirably.
You’d be forgiven if you found yourself heading to the Google machine to find some of these names.
These were the d-pairings on the lineup card:
Esa Lindell-Julius Honka
Dillon HeatheringtonMiro Heiskanen
Joel Hanley-Benjamin Gleason
This season, those players have only participated in 45 games, collectively.
Gleason’s journey to the league happened fast.
The Stars were so impressed with his performance during the 2018 NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City and his free agent tryout last summer, that they eventually signed him to three- year entry-level contract.
At 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Gleason got the call to drive up from the Austin area.
He even notched his first career assist assist on the team’s fourth goal, a deflection by Denis Gurianov.
“Playing in the NHL is something you dream about when you’re a kid,” Gleason said. “I knew. A goal is a goal and an assist is an assist. I was glad he scored I was glad to be a part of it.”
Honka also chipped in on offense. The d-man pulled off a brilliant fake pass at the blue line, skated down the right side of the right circle and threaded a cross-crease pass through traffic that Tyler Seguin slammed home to give the Stars a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Defensively, the unit did a solid job of getting sticks in lanes, clearing out (as Montgomery says) the blue-paint areas and killing penalties (the Stars killed four out of five man-down situations).
The forwards deserved credit, too, for helping the younger players adjust to the dramatically increased ice time on short notice.