Dallas Stars Coming Back Down To Earth – A Little


The Dallas Stars split a weekend back-to-back and appear to be coming down to earth a bit, but a 3-1-2 December record is hardly reason for panic.

After scorching the NHL in October and November, the Dallas Stars have cooled off a little as the calendar nears Christmas. What’s most concerning is that there are elements of last year’s lapses seeping into their play at times. This was acutely on display in what was almost a catastrophic loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on December 8th.

Leads of 4-0 and 5-1 evaporated into 5-5 tie late in the third period. To their credit, though, they managed to stand firm and pot a power play goal with 18.5 seconds left to secure a 6-5 win. While it was very alarming to watch them squander such a large lead, that was a game they would have found a way to lose last year. At the end of the day, a win is a win.

They followed up with what was probably their most complete effort of the season on Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite not capitalizing on numerous early power play opportunities, the Stars were positionally sound on defense and eventually grounded the Flyers into submission on the strength of goals from budding young centerman Mattias Janmark and left winger Antoine Roussel. Captain Jamie Benn salted the game away with an empty net tally for the 3-1 win.

Friday’s win set up what was probably an inevitable result on Saturday night versus the St. Louis Blues. The tone was set very early when the Blues were gifted a power play and subsequently scored. The Stars didn’t appear to be in the mood to display any grit in their game, and the 3-0 loss was indicative of a tired team that put a lot of effort into winning the previous night.

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One would like to see the Stars put up more of a fight against a possible playoff opponent, but their play wasn’t horrible for the entire game. They had some stretches where they dictated the pace of play – especially in the second period – but they also ran up against St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen playing at the top of his game, as he posted his fourth shutout of the season.

What all this means is that the Stars are showing signs of slowing down a bit. They have lost three of six in the month of December. But if there is a positive to take away from this lull, it is that they’ve garnered at least a point in each game, save for Saturday’s whitewashing. They still hold an eight point lead in the brutal NHL Central Division, and that will come in handy as they encounter more divisional foes in the coming weeks.

A 30-game record of 22-6-2 is anything but fool’s gold. The sample size is large enough to say this Dallas Stars club has played to their paper. Their unannounced start has given them enough of a cushion to withstand a stretch of shaky play. In other words, as the law of averages extracts its pound of flesh, the Stars have done themselves a huge favor by stocking up their proverbial ounce of prevention so early in the season.

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What remains to be seen is if the Stars can get their defensive issues in order, get their power play back on track, and keep scoring goals at a clip at or near what they’ve been showing all season. If they can, there’s no reason to think they can’t shake loose of this “slump” and start piling up wins yet again.