FRISCO — For new coaches in the NHL, sometimes it takes time to get their system in place and their players integrated into their style. They are switching instructions and changing behaviors, and sometimes drastically.
For Stars first-year coach Jim Montgomery, Thanksgiving should be a checkpoint for Dallas.
“Realistically, that’s when you should start seeing, Wholesale nhl jerseys
as a coaching staff, we should know what to expect from our own group,” Montgomery said. “Right now, you don’t know what to expect, and that’s normal with change.”
The Stars host Minnesota on Friday night after a two-game road trip in which they lost to Ottawa and New Jersey on back-to-back nights. The swing sullied a 3-1-0 season-opening homestand and also revealed old wounds — a lack of road success and a dearth of depth scoring — that sank the last two seasons in Dallas, when the Stars missed the playoffs.
Given Montgomery’s style change to a more up-tempo puck possession and pressure type of game, it’s not surprising that a middling 3-3-0 start has opened his campaign. Especially as he tries to coach the Stars after Lindy Ruff’s offensive style and Ken Hitchcock’s defensive one.
“It’s very similar to any transition I’ve had where you come into a new job,” said Montgomery, who comes to Dallas after five years at the University of Denver. “It’s changing habits and behaviors, and it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
It’s not an unusual situation for the other coaches in the NHL. Excluding the six coaches currently in their first season with a team, the other 25 coaches were (on average) about 2.5 points better after Thanksgiving than they were before Thanksgiving in their first season with their current team. A team on pace for an 89.6-point season became a team on pace for a 92.1-point season.
Last season gave two prime examples of marked improvement. Under Bob Boughner, Florida began the season 8-11-2 but went 36-19-6 the rest of the way. Under Bruce Cassidy, Boston began the season 9-7-4 but went 41-13-8 the rest of the way.