Dallas' 3-1 win over Columbus on Wednesday produced some performances that could bode well for later this season. As always, the question is whether the Stars can sustain any kind of momentum they generate. But there were things about Wednesday that had to please coach Marc Crawford.
Alex Auld. I'll admit that I was surprised he played as the schedule isn't too compact right now. But Auld had 33 saves and was steady.
Matt Niskanen. He returned, played more than 21 minutes, and didn't have any glaring mistakes. It's a start. I still think sitting him the other night against San Jose was a smart move and one that could pay dividends. He's a young guy who is trying to find some confidence. Crawford sent a clear message that he wanted Niskanen competing at a higher level. It needs to happen on more than just one night here and there. So we'll see. Wednesday was a good start, though.
Overall, the Stars played the kind of defense Crawford has been stressing the last few weeks. He was pleased after the game about it. "Our defense tonight did a terrific job and kept them to the outside for the most part," Crawford said. "I was really pleased with our coverage down low, the help we were getting from the forwards, the determination of blocked shots and the willingness to compete. We said that's what we needed going into the game, and I'm happy to say we got it."
What did you think of moving Mike Modano to wing? I'm not sure how I feel about it, but mixing and matching the third and fourth lines aren't easy at this point. We'll see how it looks in the next few games (If Crawford keeps Modano on the wing with Mike Ribeiro).
James Neal. He continues to play well, creating scoring chances and finishing them for a team that has struggled to put the puck in the net at times even when great opportunities present themselves.
What were your thoughts on the game? Are you encouraged?