Dallas Stars (finally) hit the ice after COVID shutdown

The National Hockey League’s 2021 season is just over a week old, and the Dallas Stars are undefeated. In fact, they’ve yet to surrender a single goal to an opponent.

Of course, they haven’t scored any goals either. Or won any games, for that matter, because they haven’t actually played any opponents.

The defending Western Conference champions’ season has been in stasis following a COVID-19 outbreak that saw 17 players test positive — by far the largest concentration for any NHL team to date. It was an outbreak that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league was still “trying to get our arms around how the spread occurred” a few days before Dallas was due to start the season on Jan. 14.

After their first four games were postponed, the Stars will finally open up on Friday at home against the Nashville Predators (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+), raising their conference championship banner in front of a smattering of fans. Dallas is one of three NHL teams that are allowing ticket-buyers into their arena for the start of the season.

Their opponents in the realigned Central Division have gotten a head start in the standings after completing uninterrupted training camps. The Stars have had no such luxury, as their facilities were shuttered for a few days and their first road trip was postponed.

“We’re going to fall behind on game conditioning. There’s nothing we can do about that. You need real games to get that conditioning back,” said head coach Rick Bowness, who was given the job on a permanent basis after leading the team to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final as interim coach.

But adversity is nothing new for the Dallas Stars. Or at least it hasn’t been for the past year.

“We had adversity last season. We fought through it. We have adversity now. Hopefully we’ll be better for fighting through it,” forward Andrew Cogliano told ESPN this week.

Original article: https://www.espn.com/nhl/insider/story/_/id/30755873/dallas-stars-hit-ice-2021-nhl-season-covid-shutdown

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