Despite being buoyed by a three-game winning streak, the Dallas Stars were reminded on Saturday that they are far, far away from where they need to be.
Normally, a three-game winning streak would be a cause for optimism for these Dallas Stars. It hasn’t exactly been an exhilarating beginning to the 2019-20 campaign, after all. But after they got off to an unfathomable 1-7-1 start to the season, they managed to rattle off three in a row and appeared to be emerging from whatever funk they were mired in.
And for two periods on Saturday night, they stood toe-to-toe with a Pittsburgh Penguins team that had outclassed them just eight days prior. In fact, as the puck dropped to start the third period, it could be argued that the Stars had thoroughly outplayed the Penguins. But for all their effort and good play, the game stood tied 0-0 to that point.
What followed was a stark reminder of how far the Dallas Stars still have to go if they want to shed the label of mostly perennial also-rans. The Penguins came out and dominated the Stars from the jump. The first goal came courtesy of a mishandled puck behind goalie Ben Bishop’s net. Bishop whiffed on a pass attempt, and then couldn’t deny Penguins’ center Dominik Kahun’s slam dunk to make the score 1-0.
From there, the Stars basically cratered, and the stat sheet showed it. Most notably, until the third period, Dallas enjoyed a 22-11 shot advantage. The game ended 27-25 in favor of the Penguins as they put up two more goals en route to a lopsided 3-0 win. You read that right. Pittsburgh outshot Dallas 16-3 in the final stanza. In short, they had another gear that the Stars presently do not.
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It’s disheartening, too. The first two periods exemplified the improving Stars. They were playing with pace and were dominating the match. But they ended up looking like the the 1-7-1 Stars by game’s end. It was enough to make head coach Jim Montgomery say “We never responded.” That statement, in and of itself, is very troubling. When it came to winning time, they got rolled in their own barn. The bottom line is, this Stars team doesn’t handle adversity well at all. Until they buck up and prove otherwise, they’re destined to miss the playoffs and let everyone down yet again. It’s a repeating and irritating trend that followers of this bunch should be used to by now.
There are a few extremely discouraging patterns developing for this team as well. One of them dates back to last year: goal scoring. As of right now, they’re plodding along at twenty-five goals scored in thirteen games played. That’s not even two goals per game, and it’s good for fourteenth out of fifteen Western Conference teams. Only the lowly Chicago Blackhawks dwell below them.
They’re a little better in terms of goals allowed, but they’re seventh in the West in that category, which is only middle of the pack. It boils down to a -11 goal differential, and that’s only thirteen games into a season that was supposed to be championship-caliber. Worse yet, unless they get on a serious roll–and soon–this team, as presently constructed, won’t sniff seventy points. That would be an abject disaster.
So while the Dallas Stars still have a lot of time to correct their course, they need to do it quickly. The baseball analogy seems fitting now. You can’t win a pennant this early in the season, but you sure as heck can lose it. Right now, that’s exactly what they’re doing. The loss to the Penguins needs to be the anomaly. They have a chance to start a new streak against the similarly struggling Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
- Published on 10/28/2019 at 12:00 PM
- Last updated at 10/28/2019 at 06:57 AM