The Dallas Stars had a memorable 2019-2020 season that ended in heartbreak Monday night loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Their season started off slow losing eight of their first nine games but bounced back with a 17-11-3 record by December 10. At that time, the Stars dismissed their head coach Jim Montgomery for what was described as “unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.”
Prior to the season being put on pause for COVID-19, the Stars finished with a 37-24-8 record losing their last six straight games. During the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, Dallas went 1-2 winning their last game against St. Louis.
The Stars got hot in the postseason taking Calgary in six games in the first round. Colorado Avalanche gave Dallas a tougher run, but the Stars pulled out a tough-played seven-game series. While it wasn’t as long as the Colorado series, the Las Vegas Golden Knights gave Dallas five tough games in the Western Conference finals. It was the Stars who came out at top with winning three straight games that included two overtime wins.
The expectation of the Stanley Cup was Dallas needed to rely on more offense to win games. Tampa Bay struggled in game one with the Stars getting off to a strong start with a 4-1 win.
The Lightning rolled strong winning four of the last five games to take home the Stanley Cup. Dallas didn’t go without a fight taking two games to overtime. In the end, the Stars ran out of energy, but they shouldn’t be hanging their heads after the loss.
What Made the 2019-2020 Season Special for Dallas Stars
Interim head coach Rick Bowness hasn’t been a head coach since 2004 where he also served as interim head coach for the then Phoenix Coyotes. Not many knew what was going to happen to Dallas with a new coach, but they didn’t mess up the team’s momentum. Now Bowness has most likely earned the right to remove the interim title and lead the franchise in the future.
Dallas saw players like Denis Gurianov, Roope Hintz, and Miro Heiskanen step up in big ways to help the team. Gurianov led the team in goals with 20 and Heiskanen was third on the team in points with 35 which is a career-high for him. Heiskanen came up big in the playoffs stepping up with 26 points in 27 games.
The usual stars in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin proved once again why they are the cornerstones of the team. Seguin made his sixth All-Star appearance and dominated with 50 points in the regular season. John Klingberg deserves some recognition for his postseason play stepping up for Seguin who didn’t score a goal in the last 15 games.
This was Dallas’ best season since losing the Stanley Cup Finals to the New Jersey Devils in 2000. They have been building this team around veterans like Klingberg, Seguin, and Benn.
The Future of the Dallas Stars
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There are some lingering questions regarding what will come with the Dallas Stars. One is regarding some players who will be either restricted free agents or free agents. Goalie Anton Khudobin performed well in the postseason being the main man in front of the net. Khudobin goes into the offseason as an unrestricted free agent as Dallas has to decide if they want to bring him back or stick with Ben Bishop full time. Heiskanen is another free agent as restricted as Dallas will have to find a way to ensure they bring him back.
Bowness’ time as interim head coach is over and now Dallas has some decisions to make. It seems unlikely that Dallas won’t bring Bowness back as their head coach, but still something they have to evaluate. His performance as head coach leading the team to the Stanley Cup should go down as one of the most impressive coaching jobs in recent memory. The Stars will most likely bring him back to be the head coach.
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Regardless of what happens this offseason, Dallas Stars fans should feel optimistic about the direction of the team. Will they return to the finals in the near future? Who knows. One thing that can’t be denied is the pieces are there for more success for years to come.