By Martin Iheke
Who exactly are the Dallas Stars? Are they a team that likes to possess the puck with speed and skill? Or are they a team that gets by with enough offense while riding their terrific goaltender, Kari Lehtonen? I ask these questions because through 14 games already, I do not really have a feel for what they are. At 6-6-2, the Stars look like an average team. There will be games where they look terrific and others where they look awful. Heck, they would look good and bad in certain points of some games. When you are this inconsistent, you end up being stuck at .500. Lacking a true philosophy plays a big role in this and that is where the Stars are.
This past week is a prime example of the inconsistencies that continue to plague this team. Last Monday they won at the Buffalo Sabres, 4-3, thanks to a solid performance from the offense. They got goals from four different players with one of the goals scored on the power play, which has become a rarity. At one point the Stars were leading, 4-1, before the Sabres came roaring back to make it a one-goal deficit late in the secondperiod. Nothing has come easy for this team no matter what, but this was a big win. Unfortunately they could not string together another win as they would lose at the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, the next night. The second night of back-to-back woes continue for the Stars as they are 0-3-0 on the season in those games. Lehtonen was terrific in goal with 22 saves, but the offense that scored four goals the previous night was not there for this one.
After a couple of days off, the Stars returned home to face the surprisingly division-leading Colorado Avalanche last Friday. The Stars came out of the gate slowly allowing the Avs to outshoot them, 13-4, by the end of the first period with only a 1-0 lead. Once again, Lehtonen was spectacular keeping his team from being down further in the game. The Avs did go up, 2-0, in the second period before the Stars’ offense awoke in the third period with goals from defensemen Alex Goligoski and forward Tyler Seguin that tied the game. However, they could not sustain the momentum as they would lose, 3-2, in overtime thanks to the goal scored by Avs forward Paul Stastny. The Stars did get a point for at least getting the game beyond regulation but it was not good enough. After the game, Seguin talked about how they have to get off to better starts. “Yeah, we’re doing that a lot to ourselves. We’re not having good starts with myself included so we got to fix that,” Seguin said. “We’re going on the road here for a few games and we need to get that road record better,” as he continued.
Yes, the Stars are a woeful 2-5-0 on the road so far this season and that needs to improve. Getting off to better starts would go a long way in helping that. On Sunday the Stars traveled to Ottawa to play the Senators and they did what they wanted to improve on by getting up, 2-0, before allowing Ottawa to come back to tie the game by the end of the second period. The Stars took a 3-2 lead early in the third when forward Antoine Roussel was credited with a goal because Senators rookie defenseman Mark Borowiecki accidentally put the puck in the team’s own net. They looked like they had the game in hand before the Senators tied it at three a piece before the end of regulation. With no one scoring in overtime, the game would then go into the shootout where captain Jamie Benn would score the only goal as the Stars would win, 4-3. Despite the record of 2-1-1 this past week, it still feels like this team is up and down. What I would like to see is a lot more ups than downs with a true identity. It is the only way the Stars can take that next step.
11/5 @Bruins 6:00 PM
11/7 @Red Wins 6:30 PM
11/9 vs Blackhawks 7:00 PM