By Martin Iheke
The word “ugly” is what I can describe the past week for your Dallas Stars. After starting the season, 2-1-0, the Stars have lost five out of their last six games including three out of their last four within the past week. They are now in last place in the Central Division at 3-5-0 and there are reasons why. First, the defense has been nothing but horrendous. They are fourth in the league in shots against at 34.3 according to ESPN.com. This has a lot to do with poor defensive coverage in their own zone. Too many guys are getting caught out of position which leads to a lot of scoring chances by the opposing team. Granted, they are adjusting to a new system and that takes some time but there is no reason for them to be playing this awful like this.
Second, the power play has been bad at times. According to ESPN.com, the Stars are ranked 18th on the power play and have only scored four goals on the man advantage. This was an area the team really wanted to work on and get better at before the start of the season. So far, they do not look like they have a clue at times on what they want to do and pretty much mirrors the power plays of the past few seasons. Third, there are some players on the team that have not lived up to their end of the bargain. Defensemen Sergei Gonchar has been the worst player for the Stars thus far. He has only recorded a point and no goals. He is a -5 and has been absolutely terrible on the defensive end. This is not what general manager Jim Nill had in mind when he traded for him this past offseason. He looks every bit like a 39-year old out there looking slow at times and showing a lack of effort. If he keeps up this play, I do not think he will be a Dallas Star for long.
Another player that has been disappointing is defensemen Alex Goligoski. He has yet to record a point this season and is a -7. The Stars are paying these two a lot of money to be the top defensive pairing for this team and they are not even close to playing like one. It will be interesting to see if head coach Lindy Ruff finally breaks this pair up and goes in a different direction because, right now, it is not working. I have not been too thrilled about the play of forward Shawn Horcoff, another offseason acquisition, and defensemen Trevor Daley and Brenden Dillon because their play has been too inconsistent. There have been a few bright spots on the team like the play of the first line in Tyler Seguin, Captain Jamie Benn and Rich Peverley and for the most part the second line in Cody Eakin, Alex Chiasson and Ray Whitney. The problem is the first two lines cannot carry this team alone as well as goaltender Kari Lehtonen whenever he gets back from injury. This has to be a team effort all around.
I do not want to push the panic button just yet because we are only eight games into the season, but with how strong the Western Conference is shaping up so far it would be wise for the Stars to get this ship turned around as soon as possible. If they keep up their poor play, do not be surprised if Nill starts to make some changes to the roster. Accountability is a big thing to him and lacking that will not be accepted. The Stars will not play again until Thursday night when they host the Calgary Flames. The Winnipeg Jets will be in here on Saturday night before the Stars embark on a brief two-game road trip out East against the Buffalo Sabres next Monday and the Montreal Canadiens the following night.
10/24 vs Flames 7:30 PM
10/26 vs Jets 6:00 PM
10/28 @Sabres 6:00 PM