Dallas Stars: Up and Down Performances are to be Expected

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 17: Martin Hanzal
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 17: Martin Hanzal /

The Dallas Stars arguably had the best offseason in the NHL but they’ve struggled with consistency this season – but that’s to be expected.

The Dallas Stars made headlines all offseason, putting together one of the best offseasons in recent memory.  They added top defensemen as well as top goal scorers. They even added the best available netminder on the market, unquestionably upgrading their biggest weakness from a season ago.

The Stars entered the season on a high. Players and fans both felt Dallas added enough to not only make them postseason contenders, but Stanley Cup contenders. That excitement was tempered early when Ben Bishop was injured and the Stars lost their first two games of the season.

They turned things around since then and now stand 7-5-0 hovering in second place in the Central. But each game offers a mystery as to how the Stars will play. Just when we start to think goaltender is a backbone, the Stars give up 19 goals in a four game stretch. Just when you think scoring is the backbone, they  go two consecutive games only scoring a total of three total goals in regulation.

To be expected

Considering all that has happened between the end of last season and the start of this season, up-and-down performances are to be expected. As surely as the Stars are loaded from a talent perspective, they are deficient from a continuity perspective.

One of the biggest changes this season was replacing coach Lindy Ruff with Ken Hitchcock. This fundamental change to gameplay cannot be overstated. The game has changed and EVERYONE must learn it.

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When personnel changes, there are natural growing pains as the new additions integrate into the system and mesh with new teammates. But when you add a new coaching staff and new system to the mix, incumbent players need to learn those new things as well.

This is no small task and something that is completely expected. To think Dallas could hit the ground running this season is misguided to say the least. This is going to be a season-long process that will hopefully have Dallas peaking at just the right time.

Better than expected

If anything, the Dallas Stars are doing much better than expected. Their power play percentage is tops in the league at 30.8 percent and their penalty kill is second best in the NHL at 90.5 percent. They may have lost to some poor teams but they’ve also beaten good teams.

The Stars aren’t a dominant force because they haven’t had time. Mistakes will continue as they work out issues with the system and with each other. The important thing is that everyone buys in and keeps working. You can bet Ken Hitchcock won’t tolerate anything less than everything.

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There’s no reason to temper enthusiasm for the season because the issues we’re seeing from time to time are correctable and perfectly fixable. This up-and-down start to the season is as predictable as a Stanley Cup run at the end of the season.