Dallas Stars first half report card

Despite great play from forward Tyler Seguin, it's been a tough first half for the Dallas Stars. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Despite great play from forward Tyler Seguin, it's been a tough first half for the Dallas Stars. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The first half of the NHL season has not been kind to the Dallas Stars, yet they find themselves just three points out of a Wild Card slot. Here’s a look at why they’re in that situation.

The 2016-17 NHL season hasn’t exactly looked the way Dallas Stars fans expected. After winning the top overall seed the year before and falling in the Western Conference semifinals, this season meant more.

It meant repeating for a top seed and making a stronger playoff run. It meant becoming one of the league’s best. But instead, they’ve found themselves struggling to stay afloat. However, there’s not one clear place to point fingers with this team. Perhaps there’s more going on under the hood worth taking a look at.


Almost all of the best hockey takes place between the pipes. Rarely do you see video compilations of face-offs, saucer passes and one-timers unless they end up putting the puck near the goal. That’s why the backbone of any hockey team runs straight through the crease.

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You can have a team of offensive and defensive All-Stars, but a sieve for a goalie can create a myriad of problems. You can’t win if the opponents can score at will.

For Dallas goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, it seems this way for them. They rank 39th and 42nd among qualified goaltenders in save percentage. Combined, they’ve saved just 90.1% of shots by opponents and rank 27th in the NHL for save percentage out of 30 teams.

They need better and more consistent play from their goalies if they want any chance at success this season. Believe it or not though, there hasn’t been a huge drop-off since last season. Dallas finished the 2015-16 season ranked just 23rd in save percentage. Either way though, their play has been sub-par and cannot continue this way for the Stars to do anything of note this season.

Grade: D-


Dallas has two of the league’s top offensive players in Tyler Seguin and Captain Jamie Benn. The duo has combined for 88 points in 50 games with both ranking in the NHL’s top 20 for assists. Both of them distribute the puck well and get it to the right guy at the right time.

On the first scoring line with Benn, Patrick Eaves has also put up good numbers. He’s tied for the team lead with 18 goals and has 13 assists to make him third on the team in scoring. He couples well with Benn and although he doesn’t fare well on face-offs, his scoring ability more than makes up for that.

As for the third piece of the first scoring line, Cody Eakin has struggled offensively. But that’s not really his game. He’s developed into more of a defensive role, assigned to cover the leading scorer for opposing teams. But he hasn’t fared too well with that, either.

Bear in mind that Eakin began the season on the IR and didn’t make his season debut until November 17 against Colorado. His suspension at the end of the calendar year didn’t help things, either. Perhaps he needs to consistently receive more ice time, but his play has left much to be desired. Not to mention, he’s also struggled on face-offs with a 48.8 win percentage.

The Stars have also seen some bright spots from Devin Shore and Lauri Korpikoski. Those two, along with Patrick Sharp, have combined for 19 goals and 30 assists to make a formidable third scoring line. Their performance could mean the difference between playing hockey in mid-April and not.

Grade: B

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For years, defensemen have formed the backbone for the Stars. But unlike the offense, their defensive struggles begin at the top. Defensemen Esa Lindell and John Klingberg have had a difficult time holding onto the puck.

Klingberg ranks ninth in the NHL for most giveaways with 54. Add in that he has only 18 takeaways and you quickly realize how careless he’s played. Lindell hasn’t provided much support with his 17 & 25. Their Corsi and Fenwick numbers aren’t that great, either.

In Klingberg’s defense, he does have 20 assists this season, but that’s not really enough to make up for the turnovers. He is a defenseman, after all.

Jordie Benn has played some pretty even-keel hockey to this point. Although he’s -16, himself on takeaways vs. giveaways, he has also blocked a team-leading 87 shots. Needless to say, he’s done his share of stopping the puck before it reaches the goaltender.

But if the top defensive line is struggling, then things will go bad against the top lines of Dallas opponents. It’s crucial that the Stars get more out of Lindell and Klingberg if they want to don’t want to waste this season. Perhaps the break will do them some good and they come back fully-charged.

Grade: C-

Special Teams

There’s really no other way to state this, but the Stars have played terribly on special teams. They rank just 20th in power play scoring percentage at 17.2%. Good teams will score regularly and become extremely efficient with a one man advantage. It becomes even worse when Dallas has to kill a  penalty.

Unbelievably, the Stars rank dead-last in penalty kill percentage at 74%. While defending five men with only four on your side is difficult, they’re essentially conceding a goal every game or so at that rate. It’s impossible to win games if you’re giving away an extra score every night. These two deficiencies need attention immediately.

Grade: F

Next: Something is seriously wrong with the Dallas Stars


In all, this has been a difficult season for Dallas to endure. Major players have missed some time due to injuries, but that doesn’t cover everything. They sit in contention currently, but one bad stretch of games could ruin that. It’s on the Stars to come back like gangbusters after the All-Star break and regain their focus for the end mission. With some adjustments here and there, they could become contenders in no time, which is really all the time they have left to get something done.

Grade: C