Rick Bowness has done a great job coaching the Dallas Stars since taking over for Jim Montgomery on December 10th. That record aside (pre-bubble records don’t mean much to me right now), this has more to do with the feel for his team and how much respect his players have for him.
I was around the Stars during the 2020 Winter Classic and that’s where I saw first-hand how relaxed he was as a coach and how confident his players were in him. Now up 2-0 against the Colorado Avalanche, the Stars have ripped off the last five goals of the series and 10 in the last two games. Their offense has come to life.
“You play the right way and good things happen,” a well-rested Rick Bowness stated. “We’re not going to be able to dictate the tempo against that team for 60 minutes.” And yet, they’re outscoring them. Nobody saw that coming.
The Avalanche injuries to Philipp Grubauer and Erik Johnson have hurt the team, but excuses won’t turn this series around. It’s not like Nathan MacKinnon could do much more.
“He’s an elite player. As good as anybody right now,” Bowness added. “When he gets flying, he’s hard to contain. It’s a collective job to try and contain him.”
Bowness has done a great job with his team’s defense since he’s taken over. The offense has finally awakened and maybe it’s at the right time. Maybe they’re the hot team that will go all the way. Anything is possible in the NHL and this coach has a good philosophy to stop his players from looking down the road.
“Stay in the moment. Stay focused on the moment.”
Bowness said he has faith in both Anton Khudobin and Ben Bishop. Bishop skated today, but the coach was quick to say, “he’s still unfit to play.” He said it quickly almost making sure there’s no hope for the media and fans to think Bishop can back in there soon, and with the team rolling he won’t make a change. At some point, Bishop will be healthy enough to be the backup, and it will be interesting to see how he handles that.
The Stars are a fascinating team. They skate well, they now have the scoring that should have been there all season, and they can play heavy hockey. Those are some of the attributes a Stanley Cup contending team need, and right now the Stars look like a real contender. This series isn’t over yet, but the coach has helped his team play their game.
Check out my new hockey book Sticks and Stones here.