After not winning a game since February 2nd, and after missing games due to the Texas Winter Storm last week, the Stars finally pulled through and picked up a win against the Panthers on Wednesday. The Stars have lost their fire from the start of this season, and as they picked up their first win in February and their first in nine games, maybe the Stars are finally awaking from their slump. However, after a loss last night to the same team they beat, the Stars are back to square one once again. The Stars seem to be hindered by something, as if they cannot get past it. The Stars will need to work out their problems, and they will need to do it quickly, as March is only a few days away.
The Stars’ Misfires
Since February 2nd, the Dallas Stars had not won a game. Luckily, the Stars finally ended the losing streak on Wednesday against the Florida Panther, but then lost the following day 3-2 to the same team. The Stars look flustered while on the ice and they cannot seem to notch some goals on the forecheck while helping our goalie on the back check. The Stars are putting pucks on the net, but as we saw in this past series with the Panthers, we are not cashing in on as many as we should be.
The biggest problem for the Stars while on the streak was not scoring on the amount of chances we had. Against Florida this week, we put up a total of 90 shots on goal through three games, averaging 30 shots on goal a game. With us only scoring 6 goals through the three games, meaning we are only scoring once every 15 shots. Which compared to Florida during the series, who scored 6 goals on 130 shots on goal, or scoring once every 22 shots. However, even though we have better stats on the percentages, we are not capitalizing on the chances. With us throwing a smaller volume, compared to Florida who throwing more shots and scoring on those chances, we are not finding ways to create a sense of pressure while on the forecheck. The Stars cannot seem to find the back of the net when it counts, especially when either losing throughout the game or losing a lead we had for most of the game.
Even when Dallas scores early and is ahead for a period or two, such as the game last night, we cannot seem to keep the opposition from getting chances on our net. The Stars are allowing too much pressure on our goalies and we are allowing teams to set up in the three zones by the net. The three zones being the left of the goal by the red line, the right of the goal by the red line, or directly in front of the net. With these three positions filled, and with a rotation along the blue line, the Stars play like sitting ducks, allowing the puck to move any of these zones, creating either too much confusion for the goalie as he tries to track the puck or more chances for the opposition to create second-chance shots off of rebounds. And while the Stars run a similar set up while on the forecheck, the problem is that we are allowing the opposition too many chances to control the puck and dictate whether or not they can reclaim the puck off a rebound. When this happens, we are allowing our goalies to face too much pressure and we are asking them to play to save the team. While both are averaging a save percentage over .900, the more that the Stars play in their own zone and are not on the forecheck, the less likely we can hold a lead to win a game. A big example of this was last nights game against the Panthers, where we scored two goals in the second and shut them down, but we could not add a third goal to extend our lead and allowed them to surpass us with three goals in the third period. If the Stars cannot score a third or fourth goal to extend the lead, and we allow our back check and our defense to be sluggish and sloppy, we will continue to lose games and we will slip into the bottom of the division.
🎥 Rick Bowness: “If we don’t defend for 60 minutes, we’re going to struggle. So that’s one side. The second side of it is the inability to get that third goal. We had plenty of opportunities to make that game 3-0.”@ATT | #GoStars pic.twitter.com/mDamWJUUZS
The Climb Back Up
Our biggest problem going into the month of March and the rest of the season is sustaining momentum while shutting down the opponents’ momentum. The Stars need to find a way to sustain pressure while on the ice and they will need to capitalize on the chances we have. We have moments where we look strong as line and look like the team we have seen at the beginning of the season and as well as the bubble, but either as the game goes on or as the game comes to a close, we cannot keep the sense of pressure on the other team and we look like we are scrambling around. We have players who are showing up to play, but as a team, we are seemingly lost on the ice. Pavs is one of the players who has shown up for us the most. He has 10 goals, 10 assists, and 20 points in all of the games that we have played; he leads the team in goals, assists, and points as well. After last game, Pavs mentioned how they are allowing teams to gain momentum is what is killing the Stars. If the Stars cannot keep their momentum going throughout a game, and if we cannot stop the opposition from gaining momentum, then we are gonna keep achieving the same kind of play we have given recently and we are going to continue our trend down the standings.
🎥 Joe Pavelski: “For us to come out like that, feed into their momentum a little bit, it’s a tough loss. It’s frustrating for sure. Understand where we’re at right now and we’re going to have to learn from this, put it behind us.”@ATT | #GoStars pic.twitter.com/D0vULtw9uZ
Something the Stars are going to need to work out is our lines. With Seguin out of the lineup, we are trying to test different lines to see whether or not we can get a few lines that we can bank on. With Alexander Radulov being on the Injury Reserve list and with Roope Hintz missing a few games, the Stars have been shaping the lines around the missing pieces. Lines like the “FCC” line have been broken up a few times this season in order to make up for the injuries we have sustained. Another issue with the lines is finding where and who to put with Jamie Benn in his line and Joe Pavelski in his line. As an example, last night’s game saw Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickinson sharing the first line with Pavs as the Captain Benn shared his second line with Radek Faska, one of the skaters who makes up the FCC line, and Denis Gurianov. With Radulov, Hintz, and Seguin injured, our lines have shift multiple times in order to find a line that can help put some points on the board. With Rads hopefully coming off the IR list within the next week, and with Hintz hopefully returning in the same timeline, the Stars can look at a stronger lineup and hopefully pair our strong suits such as Pavs, Benn, and Gurianov in lines that complement each other.
Rick Bowness said they will go with same lineup as last night. Said he believes it gives them the best chance to win:Kiviranta-Dickinson-PavelskiBenn-Faksa-GurianovCogliano-Gardner-ComeauRobertson-Dowling-CaamanoLindell-KlingbergOleksiak-HeiskanenSekera-PysykOettinger
I think the last thing that the Stars will need to focus on going forward is assisting our goalies while on defense. Even with Bishop out, Jake Oettinger and Anton Khudobin have played rather well, even while on the losing streak. Dobby stopped 92 out of the 95 shots on goal in the two games he played against the Panthers and Oettinger stopped 32 out of the 35 shots on the goal in the game he played. Dobby is also posting a .928 save percentage and a 2.35 goals against average in the 9 games he has played and Oettinger is putting up a .911 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average in the 7 games he has played. Our goalies are not playing anything out of the ordinary, but the amount of chances we are allowing teams to have while we are on defense is what’s killing us. Too much puck movement, puck control and second-chance shots are plaguing on zone while on defense, and the Stars are gonna have to play aggressive in our zone if we want to keep the opposition off of Dobby’s and Oettinger’s backs.
Positives Out Of Negatives
There are plenty of negatives for the Stars coming out of February, but as we look forward to the rest of the season, there are some things that either the Stars can look forward to or there are some things that are actually working out for the Stars. Such things as us having a good amount of home games in March, as 12 out of the 17 games we slated for the month are at home and only 5 are on the road. We also have more games to look forward to in May, as the games that have been rescheduled or postponed have been spread throughout the next three months, with quite a few games before the playoffs start in May. With the schedule looking promising, the return of key pieces to the team in March/April, and with the things we have going for us as of now, the Stars are looking to push past February and get ready to look forward to the rest of the season.
With March coming up, we get to look forward to warmer weather, especially after that insane winter weather we had last week, and we get to look forward to some home games. Stars’ fans can look forward to the home games as the Stars are outscoring their opponents at home 27-19, while we are getting outscored 19-21 while on the road. We are also posting a better record at home with 4 wins and 4 losses, or a 50% win percentage, compared to the 2 wins and 7 losses, or a 22.22% win percentage, we have on the road. So with 12 games at home and 5 on the road, I am hoping that we can post a better record in the month of March, and the rest of the season as well.
Another aspect that Stars’ fans can look towards is the return of Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop. From what I can find, it seems that Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop are aiming for a return to play in April. In an article from the Dallas Morning News, Tyler Seguin is projected to return to the team on an assumed date of April 2nd. I could not find any recent articles for Ben Bishop, but from what I can tell is that the majority of people assume he would also rejoin the team in April as well. With Seguin and Bishop back in the lineup, the Stars can look to have a better set up on their lineups for the rest of the season and the playoffs, as long the Stars can turn their season around starting tomorrow against the Lighting.
A positive for the Stars during the losing streak is that their is depth on the bench and with the Taxi squad. Our younger players are learning to step up and are finding where they can fill in for the missing pieces that we have. Our more experienced young players such as Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov are contributing to the team as they make up top 6 players on our team in points, with all three being in the top of goals and assists on the team. Even younger guys on the Taxi squad such as Jason Roberston, Ty Dellandrea, and Nick Caamano learning how to play in the NHL and are keeping up, for the most part, with the more experienced teammates. We have a good portion of the team under the age of 25, and these players are shaping their future with the Stars during this season, and we are going to see who can be helpful in our times of need.
The Dallas Stars have 41 games left on the shortened season, 20 at home and 21 on the road, including a road game tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Lighting, the first game since the Stanley Cup Finals Game 6. We have a lot to work on if we want to work our way out of this pit and towards a spot in the playoffs. Even with all of the negatives we have as fans, I still believe this team can turn it around and prove the league wrong. I said at the beginning of the season that this isn’t a “Redemption Tour” as I have seen some people say, but that this is a Revenge Tour against the league, and if the Stars want to see Lord Stanley this playoff season, they will have to play aggressive and angry against the Central division that we are in and work our way to the top. The Revenge Tour month 3 begins on March 2nd at home against the Lighting. But before we look towards March, we have to close out February. Watch the Stars take on the team that stole the cup from us as we play the Tampa Bay Lighting on Saturday at 6 pm CT in the first meeting since Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Photo Creds: @DallasStars / Twitter.com / https://twitter.com/DallasStars/status/1365119097596436482/photo/1
Dallas Stars Stats | 2020-2021 / NHL.com / https://www.nhl.com/stars/stats
Dallas Stars Schedule / NHL.com / https://www.nhl.com/stars/schedule/2021-04-01/CT
The Dallas Morning News Seguin Article / DallasNews.com / https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/stars/2021/02/05/stars-center-tyler-seguin-says-his-goal-is-to-return-before-playoffs/