After dropping a 4-0 decision to the Buffalo Sabres Monday, the Dallas Stars sank to 1-5-1. This is their worst start since 1990-1991, back when Minnesota was home and a 26-year-old Dave Gagner was the leading scorer.
So, what’s going on?
For one, the Stars are 30th overall in goals scored per game at 1.86. Being shut out Monday didn’t help, admittedly, but Dallas has struggled to find twine all season long. They did put 25 shots on Carter Hutton, too, but it didn’t register. Nor did two power play chances, pushing the Stars to one-for-22 on the man advantage thus far.
Defensively, the team is in the middle of the pack.
It’s tempting to say that defence is a strong suit for Dallas, but that doesn’t always get results. After all, the squad got hemmed in their own zone more than a few times against the Sabres and made more than a few mistakes that led to more than a few opportunities.
Sometimes that’s just the name of the game, but right now it seems to be the brand of hockey the Stars are playing.
“You dig in as a group,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “A little adversity never hurt. It seems like it’s magnified with the beginning of the year here. You can kind of get away with stretches like this in the middle of the season, but to have a tough start like this, it sucks. But we’ve got to keep digging in here.”
Right now, Dallas is led by Roope Hintz and his five points in seven games – including four goals. Mattias Janmark is second with four points, including just a goal, while Tyler Seguin has two goals and just three points.
The Stars’ best game was clearly the win against the Washington Capitals, an overtime victory that came after three losses. But then came more losses, three more, and the hole is getting deep. “Digging in” is the only answer from a theoretical standpoint, but there are other issues.
The Stars added depth scoring via Joe Pavelski, but the 35-year-old has yet to produce. You could argue the veteran is trying to gel with his new team, but something’s got to give.
Corey Perry has yet to suit up, but he could be in the lineup by October 18 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And not for nothing, but Dallas has seen some tough competition this year so far. They’ve had a tough schedule. Only the Winnipeg Jets have also played seven games so far, giving the Stars one of the most jam-loaded calendars this fall.
But excuses aside, who are the Dallas Stars? Right now, they’re doing the job of a Jim Montgomery team but failing to win. Shots are down and defence is solid enough to keep it tight for goalie Ben Bishop. The downside is this model is untenable when you don’t score.
And that’s why, for at least the foreseeable future, the losses will keep piling up for Big D.
Photo credit: NHL.com