The MVP of the Dallas Stars is already apparent

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 10: Martin Frk
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 10: Martin Frk /

The Dallas Stars have only played three games this season, yet it’s already become glaringly apparent  who this season’s most valuable player is.

The Dallas Stars haven’t started the season as they hoped they would have. After winning the offseason by upgrading their offense, defense, net, and possibly even coaching staff, the Stars have been a trendy pick to be a Stanley Cup Finals competitor.

But after starting the season 1-2-0, the excitement has been tempered. The poor start has not only pumped the breaks on the enthusiasm, but it’s reminded us all how fragile this situation really is. More importantly, it’s signaled who the MVP of this season really is.

The 2016-17 Dallas Stars

To say the Dallas Stars have struggled in goal these past few seasons is a bit of an understatement. The team that won the West in 2016, essentially lost the West in 2017. Injuries had a significant role in the Stars’ decline, but netminding carries the bulk of the blame.

The Dallas Stars are able to survive the loss of any one forward or singular defenseman, but they cannot afford to lose Ben Bishop and still expect to compete.

Last season Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen combined to provide the Dallas Stars the worst save percentage in the entire NHL (.894 tied Colorado for 30th). It was clear even the best offense in the NHL couldn’t win with those numbers and a healthy offense alone wouldn’t turn the franchise around.

So Ben Bishop became the obvious solution.

Ben Bishop

Ben Bishop was arguably the most important move of the offseason. As a repeat Vezina Trophy finalist, the free agent netminder was the top option available to the Dallas Stars in free agency. Jim Nill wasted no time signing the 30-year-old All-Star to a six year, $29.5 million contract (technically trading for him first, and agreeing to a deal second).

Bishop came to the Dallas Stars with a .919 save percentage, a 2.32 goals against average, and 19 career shutouts. He’s played in 36 Stanley Cup Playoff games and rather than wilting under pressure like Kari has been known to do, Bishop stepped up his game, improving his postseason numbers to a .927 save percentage and a 2.09 goals against average.

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As if his importance wasn’t obvious from the start, everyone in Stars Nation was reminded of that this season when Bishop fell to injury in the first game of the season. Four minutes into the third, with the Stars leading the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights 1-0, Bishop took a hard shot to the mask landing him the NHL’s concussion protocol.

Replacing Bishop was familiar face, Kari Lehtonen. He checked in a proceeded to give up two goals and the game.

Kari’s struggles continued in the Stars’ second game despite leading the St. Louis Blues in shots on goal.

In the 1.3 games Kari has played, he has a 5.00 GAA and .813 save percentage. Those first two games, The Stars led the NHL shot differential (plus 17.5 per game), yet they found a way to lose both contests.

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Last night against the Detroit Red Wings, Bishop made his way back into goal for the Dallas Stars. The team continued their dominant shot differential stats by leading Detroit 33-25 in shots. But this time the net did not disappoint.

Bishop stopped 23 shots on Tuesday giving the Stars their first win of the season and giving Bishop an impressive 1.15 GAA and a .955 save percentage.

By now we know what we have in Kari and it’s just not good enough to be a contender in the NHL. Ben Bishop makes all the difference on this team and that’s why he’s the real MVP.

Next: Sustainability may be the Stars' biggest accomplishment

The Dallas Stars are able to survive the loss of any one forward or singular defenseman, but they cannot afford to lose Ben Bishop and expect to still compete. That’s why Ben Bishop is, and will continue to be, the Dallas Stars’ MVP of the season.