The opening week of the NHL season couldn’t have gone better for the Dallas Stars. They sprinted out to a 4-0 start on the strength of sweeping Nashville and Detroit at home. They managed to score seven goals twice in that span and looked every bit the Stanley Cup contender we witnessed last summer.
Of course, you can’t win them all, and that was on full display during a weekend back-to-back in Raleigh, North Carolina against the Hurricanes. I’ve touched on this before in this space, but Stars fans tend to be a fragile bunch. A couple losses in a row can be sufficient cause for panic. And who can blame us? This team’s put their fan base through a lot over the years.
The Dallas Stars show signs of humanity in dropping back-to-back games.
Now, if the Stars had come out on Sunday afternoon and had gotten drubbed like they were on Saturday night, then maybe it feels different. But even in Sunday’s shootout loss, the Stars displayed the toughness and resolve we’ve now come to expect from this bunch. Further, they managed to pull a point out of Sunday’s setback, and there’s nothing wrong with a record of 4-1-1 at this early juncture.
So while their current status in life isn’t necessarily cause for concern, there are a couple of areas that could all of sudden use some work, and that’s the power play and the penalty kill. On the former, the Stars are doing a good job drawing penalties and getting on the man advantage. They’re just not converting. Conversely, they’re taking too many penalties and giving up goals in return.
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During the weekend set versus the Hurricanes, the Stars were down a man ten times and gave up goals on four of those occasions. A 60% kill rate will not win you many games. You’d better be converting your chances on the power play. Well, Dallas did manage eleven power plays, but only converted on one chance. A 9% conversion rate won’t will you many games, either. Now will this be a likely trend moving forward? It’s hard to say. Special teams were off-the-charts good during the home stand, but were the exact opposite away from home. It will warrant monitoring to see if that continues as this adjusted season moves forward.
What was encouraging to see was the return of team captain, Jamie Benn. He had been out of the lineup since suffering the ever-nebulous “lower body injury” on opening night against Nashville. He seemed none the worse for wear, though, in posting an assist and nifty wraparound goal to give the Stars a short-lived lead in yesterday’s game. If Benn can come back like he didn’t miss a beat, then that’s only good news for the Stars. The unorthodox bend to his knee when he got hurt looked like it could’ve potentially been much worse.
Two more road games against the Columbus Blue Jackets await this week. Those should be a formidable test, and the Stars better be ready to stay out of penalty trouble if they have any expectations of winning either game. But after Thursday, the Stars will have two full weeks at home to try to pad their record before hitting the road again. So for right now, so far so good in this weird NHL season.
- Published on 02/01/2021 at 16:01 PM
- Last updated at 02/01/2021 at 15:21 PM