Stars coach wanted team to emu­late ‘The Pa­triot Way’

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Sports - BY PETER DAW­SON pdaw­son@star-tele­

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.

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