What a game. I imagine Fabian Brunnstrom is saying the same thing to himself. Over and over for hours and hours.
The new guy looked pretty good, didn’t he? I was thrilled that he got his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. We’ve had a rash of them lately. First Loui Eriksson became the 3rd player in Stars history to do it, then James Neal did it in game 1 of this season, and now Fabian has done it.
Then, he got another goal! Two goals in his first game, that’s pretty impressive! He’s really living up to the hype, I thought.
I chuckled to myself that Ralph and Razor had jinxed him by mentioning hat tricks, as if there were any WAY a kid could have scored a hat trick in his first NHL game.
And then he did it. Fabian Brunnstrom, the highly-touted, late-blooming, Swedish phenom that chose Dallas over some 15 other teams this summer, but that some thought might be overrated, scored a HAT TRICK in his first-ever NHL game! Unbelievable.
Before the game, Dave Tippett was careful to manage expectations. I’m sure he was hoping to keep the poor kid from getting battered by critics if he ended up with no goals in his first game.
“The first game he plays isn’t going to match a year’s hype. That’s not reality,” Tippett said. “He’s got to get in, get up to speed and he’ll continue to improve. Where he is now versus where he is at game 20, at game 40 or at game 80 will be much different.”
Tipp has been working with a long-term plan to ease him into the game, putting him in position to do well, and not just tossing him into the fray to let him fend for himself. Part of that plan was to scratch Brunnstrom in the first two games, so that he could get a feel for the difference in speed and intensity from preseason games. Give him a chance to see what it’s like.
Lots of people last night asked if Tipp should have put him in sooner. Since I’m a fan of Tipp’s methods, I’m going to believe that his plan is at least part of the reason why he did do so well in his first game. Brunnstrom didn’t have the pressure of opening night or have to deal with the rumble that is a typical game in Nashville. He put him in when things had settled.
Seems to have worked out well. I doubt he’ll scratch him again any time soon. I also doubt that Brunnstrom will get another hat trick right away, either. I’m sure Brad Richards, of the 5-assist Stars debut last spring, knows what it’s like to make such a great first impression. It’s hard to match that kind of a game.
As Bob Sturm points out, though, those were some goal-scorer’s goals. They didn’t go in off his knee pad or past a goalie that was looking the other way. They were solid, even fancy, goals. And he could have had a fourth goal, but the whistle blew because a Pred was injured just as the puck went in.
Several people on TV last night and on the radio today mentioned what a nice guy he is and how humble he is. Razor and Morrow both mentioned how much he respects the game and his teammates and his coaches. I am really looking forward to seeing how he does in the long run. He could be pretty exciting.
Kind of lost in all of the excitement was the way Mike Modano played last night, too. He was zipping and zooming all over the place. He got two goals (and I’m counting the empty-netter because it wasn’t an easy one — it was from his own zone and it bounced five feet in the air a couple of times before it got to the net) and an assist. He had some steals and even a hit. He said after the game that he is really enjoying playing on a line with James Neal and B.J. Crombeen.
He also mentioned how much they respect the game and their teammates. I wonder if these are digs at a certain new player who does not, in my opinion, respect the game. I’m probably reaching.
Just like I was trying not to panic after two games, I’m trying not to get too elated after three. We’re 1-1-1. That’s really not telling us anything yet.