From big goals to road woes, we’re taking a look at the Dallas Stars through every 10 game stretch of the season. First up? Mediocrity.
It’s great to have hockey back in our lives. Hopefully your team is tearing it up (Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, etc.) this first month of the season and not forcing you to scream in to a pillow (Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings).
For us Dallas Stars fans, I’d say we’re close to the latter. Through 10 contests, they’ve been exceptional − at home. Unfortunately the team isn’t allowed (we don’t think) to take their beds with them on road swings, and thus they are uh, not good away from American Airlines Center right now.
Yikes. What might be more flabbergasting is that two of those three losses on the road have come against the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings. Those two have six combined wins in 20 total games played now. The Stars don’t seem to pack its goal production on the airplane when leaving Texas, as Dallas has scored only three so far outside the state.
It’s early to be sure, but also concerning. They didn’t play well on the road last year either, and the next five games might as well have them crawling shiv-less through a horde of hungry zombies.
@ Montreal Canadiens
@ Toronto Maple Leafs
@ Washington Capitals
@ Boston Bruins
@ Columbus Blue Jackets
San Jose Sharks
Columbus Blue Jackets
@ New York Islanders
Brutal. But of course, it hasn’t been all bad. The power play is clicking at a monstrous 28.6 percent, the penalty kill is up to 85.7 percent after struggling for a few games, and defensive whiz-kid Miro Heiskanen picked up the first goal of his career in the win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
Fourth-year player Jason Dickinson also shined in that one, picking up three points in what amounted to the best game of his short career so far. When they win, they win. But boy when they lose. Bring out the nose plugs.
Oh yeah, and oft-maligned Jason Spezza has eight points. That’s nearly a third of his total from last year. A few things in that regard:
- The Stars really need this to be a bounce-back year for the 35-year-old Center, especially if it has any shot of competing in the division. Right now it seems he’s doing just that. He looks confident and is back to not only making plays for others, but finishing when he has his own opportunities. It’s nice to see, but has to continue throughout the year. He appears to be making strides in head coach Jim Montgomery’s system. Good for him.
- Dallas is − for now − getting production from guys not named Tyler Seguin-Jamie Benn-Alexander Radulov-John Klingberg. Those four were the only rocks being launched from the catapult the first couple of weeks, but getting timely tallies out of guys like Tyler Pitlick, Blake Comeau, Connor Carrick and others has quelled the notion (for now) that this team can’t score beyond the first line.
- Again no one at all is popping twine enough on the road, though, and Benn and Seguin have to find a way to get back in the goal column. After the loss on Sunday to the Red Wings, neither player has hit the net in six games. They’ve seemed to struggle without Radulov, who has missed a handful of matchups due to injury.
- Should the Stars look to make a trade for more depth scoring? Probably. Do it.
Right now Dallas is sitting in an ugly sixth place within the division, just ahead of the St. Louis Blues. That speaks more to the strength of the Central rather than anything negative Dallas has done, though let’s be clear that the Stars have its negatives and a lot to fix right now.
The Predators and Colorado Avalanche are making cases as the best in the West − both sit at 16 points− while the Winnipeg Jets (whom Dallas finally beat, and handily) are doing Jets things and the Chicago Blackhawks have begun a resurgence. Now would be a good time for Dallas to figure out what’s going wrong away from home. It would not be a good time to lose the next five and likely be chasing the rest of the year. So don’t do that.
So … how should I feel?
You should feel as though you’ve seen this movie before. Literally, you have seen this exact movie already. Dallas started out last season 5-5, going 1-4 on the road. The next 10 didn’t do anything to please us either, as they were 10-9-1 through 20. Yet before disaster in March, the team had found its legs and was 14 games over the .500 mark − and on the way to a neat spot in the playoffs . In a word, let’s calm down.