Dallas Stars: three-game road streak turns season around, for now

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 23: The Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the third period at American Airlines Center on October 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 23: The Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the third period at American Airlines Center on October 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Only a week ago, the Dallas Stars looked lost away from home. Now, three straight road wins suggest they’re finding their form.

Last Sunday, the Dallas Stars skated into Detroit on the first game of a season-long six-game road trip. They exited Little Caesars Arena on the wrong end of a 4-2 loss. To that point, the setback looked like every other Dallas Stars road game: bad.

They looked listless and incapable of getting out of their own way. To be sure, there was a bit of alarm sounded in this very space regarding their general direction.

Well, to prove that it only takes a good week to change their fortunes, the Dallas Stars promptly ripped off wins in their next three games, all away from home. This culminated in Saturday night’s edge-of-your-seat 4-3 overtime win against the defending champion Washington Capitals. If you missed that one, then you missed what was arguably the NHL’s best regular season tilt of the 2018-19 campaign to date.

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But above and beyond Saturday night’s drama, there are a few takeaways from the Stars’ recent uptick. For one, they’re finally getting some depth scoring. They’re not the one line team they devolved into last season. Secondly, they’re getting better defensively. I haven’t noticed as many odd-man rushes, and they’ve mostly kept a lid on some pretty good offensive teams. Lastly, their goaltending has been outstanding.

For the first time under new coach Jim Montgomery, the Stars are looking like a team that is thinking less, doing more, and believing in their coach’s highly-touted “process”. And the results bear this out.

During this three-game road winning streak, they’re giving up less than two goals per game on average. Conversely, they’re averaging over three goals a game in that same span. Of course, this is a small sample size, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that this is a winning formula.

The other thing worth noting during Saturday’s game was that they didn’t get flustered. Earlier iterations of these Stars might’ve buckled after coughing up a 3-1 lead in the third period. If anything, that game got more and more playoff-like in its intensity as both teams tried to end it in regulation.

The encouraging thing here is that the Stars didn’t make a critical error down the stretch. In fact, if anyone committed a blunder, it was the Caps’ Jakub Vrana wobbling and missing a pass intended for him at his own blue line. Dallas Stars winger Jason Dickinson capitalized on the mistake and fired a deflected wrister passed Washington goalie Braden Holtby for the win.

For the moment, it’s mostly a warm and fuzzy vibe surrounding this team. They’ve picked up six of a possible eight points on this road trip. Furthermore, they’ve already guaranteed themselves a .500 win rate on this stand even if they lose the next two.

We’ll know soon enough, as the Stars continue this voyage tonight in Boston before wrapping it up in Columbus tomorrow night. A break-even trip would be nice, but a winning trip would be better. I’m sure it’s safe to assume the team realizes this as well. For as good as they’ve been, there’s a lot of work left to be done.

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So for a team that looked lost as little as seven days ago, they’re enjoying new life right now. The only problem is that they’re still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

The bottom line is that their recent winning ways need to become the rule and not the exception. We could be back to square one a week from today, but the good news is that the Dallas Stars have displayed that they’re wholly capable of winning their way into contention.

  • Published on 11/05/2018 at 18:00 PM
  • Last updated at 11/05/2018 at 10:24 AM