Brought to you by: Big Shucks
By Wiley Singleton
The Dallas Stars fell again Tuesday night to the Minnesota Wild. The Wild have gotten at least a point out of Dallas every time they have met this year.
The Wild have been surging. They currently lead the Central Division and have multiple players in the top ten of plus-minus. The Wild rely on an array of goalscorers to do their bidding. They do not rely heavily on one offensive threat or line, they work well as a cohesive unit. The lynchpin of that unit is Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk currently leads in the NHL in save percentage and goals against. The Wild have used a consistent, defensive minded approach to win a plethora of games this year.
The Stars’ style is vastly different from that of the Wild. Dallas favors an aggressive, offense focused style. This style lets elite forwards like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin rack up huge point totals. The Stars defense and goaltending is the weakness of the team.
Despite flashes of brilliance, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen both share the same flaw of wild inconsistency. The consistency problem is so severe for both goaltenders that often games are almost unwinnable because of severely early deficits.
A perfect example of this flaw came in this game against the Wild. Antti Niemi was awful. He let in the first three shots and was immediately pulled. The Stars battled back against the Wild, and managed to at least get the game to overtime before losing.
The Stars find themselves in 28th place in the league after winning the Central Division last year. They have gone from having the best offense in the NHL to the 18th best offense. Last season the Stars were top ten in both penalty kill and powerplay. This season they are bottom ten in both. The offense has struggled with injuries this season. At one point in the season Antoine Roussel was the only healthy forward in the top three lines.
The Stars playoff chances look incredibly bleak. They lack valuable pieces from last year. Vern Fiddler and Kris Russell both leaving severely hurt the Dallas penalty kill. The Stars also take the 3rd most penalties in the league, a bad habit to get into when you are constantly near the bottom in killing penalties.
Last year the Stars ended the Wild’s season in the playoffs. They boasted the best offense in the league after going out in the first round of the previous year. This season the Wild look to defense to win them the Central after being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs last year.