Dallas Stars: defense, depth scoring fueling success

Despite having their six-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, the Dallas Stars are getting the defense and scoring to propel a playoff run.

All good things must come to an end, correct? Can’t win ’em all, right? You  can insert any valid cliche here and they all apply. The Dallas Stars saw their six-game winning streak come to a halt against the mediocre San Jose Sharks on Friday night. It isn’t really a cause for concern, though. Extending the run of good fortune would’ve been nice, but a losing to a team in their own barn is hardly the end of the world.

But enough about that. The intended focus here should be another stretch of excellent hockey. Up until Saturday, the calendar still read “2019” the last time the Stars lost. In fact, as of this exact moment, they stand 2nd in the entire Western Conference, which is pretty dizzying, considering where they started.

But they’re not succeeding by blowing the doors off of teams, either. True to last year’s form, the Stars are employing a strategy of stingy defense and depth scoring to keep their heads above water in the playoff race. It’s working, too. Between December 28th and January 9th, ten different players had registered at least a goal. So they’re obviously not relying solely on the Big Three of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov to carry the scoring load.

Other players are contributing as well. Forwards Denis Gurianov, team-leading goal scorer Roope Hintz, Blake Comeau, and Mattias Janmark chipped in at least two goals during the winning streak, and that is indicative of a team that has the ability to roll four lines and get offense from multiple sources. It is an encouraging trend in face of the fact that they’ve developed this weird habit of spotting teams early leads, as well as only ranking 25th in goals-for in the NHL.

But while that might be an alarming statistic, it’s not nearly as bad as it looks. The Dallas Stars are currently the best defensive team in the league in terms of goals allowed. On the season, the Stars have thus given up 107 tallies, which is four better than the 2nd place New York Islanders. Further, goaltenders Anton Khudobin and Ben Bishop currently sport respective goals-against averages of 2.13 and 2.24, and that’s good for 2nd and 4th in the entire NHL. The cherry on top of all this is that Dallas is also 9th the NHL in goal differential at +14. They’re not on par with with the elite offenses, but they’re doing more than their fair share when it comes to the bottom line.

And speaking of the bottom line, when it comes to what they accomplished during the six-game win streak, they averaged 3.17 goals a game. Contrast this to giving up only 1.33 goals per game during the same span. In a 3-2 league, this is exactly the ratio any given team is searching for. Also, for whatever reason, this bunch has adapted to all the turmoil they’ve created or withstood this past season-and-change. Most of the credit must go to the leadership group in the room. I said it last week, but a lesser team would’ve cratered under such duress.

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The road for the Dallas Stars doesn’t get any easier, though. The Colorado Avalanche await on this current road trip, and the upcoming schedule is littered with challenges, not to mention the fact that they play nine of their next fourteen on the road. The team seems pretty well girded for battle, but we’ll continue to learn more about their character as January progresses.