Weekly Recap: How Dallas Stars Approach the New Year

Ben Bishop snags his fourth shutout of the season this week against the San Jose Sharks. The four shutouts is second most among NHL goaltenders. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
Ben Bishop snagged his fourth shutout of the season this week against the San Jose Sharks. The four shutouts is second most among NHL goaltenders. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
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By Stephen Elliott

Happy New Year!

Like most of us, the Dallas Stars hope the new year brings better prosperities than the previous. The 2017 year was filled with disappointment after a prior season built up with so much hype. Even the loud offseason that saw additions of star talent, such as Alexander Radulov and Ben Bishop, could not drown out the bitter taste of the previous season.

In 2018 the Stars still have a lot of work to get rid of that bitter taste. The team started the new season (and latter part of 2017) as a top eight team in the Western Conference but have not found consistent play that head coach Ken Hitchcock would like to see.

Yet, the team does not lack of talent. Radulov has proven to be a comparable piece with Seguin and Benn while Bishop’s play is a definite upgrade at the goaltender position from a season ago. But putting up consistent play has been hard to come by. A strong showing from the previous week suggests better play might be around the corner. It will be interesting to see how if the team can continue their constancy after the bye week against an Eastern Conference heavy schedule.

Weekly Recap
Just before Christmas, the Stars took on top Central opponent in the Nashville Predators. The Stars went down quickly as the Predators opened the scoring 30 seconds in. Predators extended their lead with just their third shot of the game. Seguin’s power-play goal, however halved the score just before the horn in the first. Antoine Roussel evened the score on a batted puck after a chaotic offensive zone scramble. Martin Hanzal gave the Stars their third consecutive goal and gave the Stars the lead. But the Predators answered back in the third sending to the game past regulation. The Predators failed to score on a  5-on-3 power-play opportunity in overtime. In the shootout,  Seguin and Radulov scored on their attempts and Bishop stopped both Predators opportunities. Stars pick up the extra point, 4-3.

The Stars faced the Wild after Christmas for their first meeting of the season. Seguin’s deflection opens scoring after a fleury of scoring chances against Wild goaltender Alex Stalock. The Wild scored with less than a minute left in the first to take the Stars only lead in the game. Two Wild goals in the second gave the Wild a lead they would not surrender. Mattias Janmark snagged a power-play goal but the Stars squandered opportunities in the third losing to their Central foes, 4-2. 

Back at home against the Blues, goaltender Ben Bishop had a game that sums up his season so far. For the first two periods, Bishop was playing some of his best hockey of the season. Point blank shots were denied and a shutout was carried into the third period. But with a one goal lead to start the third, Bishop allowed two goals in a span of a minute. Luckily for Bishop and the Stars captain Jamie Benn scored late off a turnover late in the final period. Just two minutes later Radulov scores on the power-play giving the Stars the 4-2 win.

On New Year’s Eve, the Stars showcased one of their most dominating performances of the season against the San Jose Sharks. Six goals by five different players was plenty for Ben Bishop as the Stars goaltender picked up his fourth shutout of the season. The Stars outshot the Sharks 17 to five in the first period and scored two goals in each period. Stars beat previous Western Conference champs, 6-0.

The Stars brought a four-game home win streak on the turn of the new year against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was a tale of a different story for the Blue Jackets as they were losers of six of their last eight. Equipped with that information, Hitchcock expected better play from what he got in the first game of 2018. Scoreless through two lackluster periods, Devin Shore opened the scoring just 44 seconds into the third period. However the Jackets would quickly answer, scoring two goals less than two minutes apart. Blue Jackets end the Stars home win streak, 2-1.

News and Notes
The Stars could be getting some good news on the injury front. Defenseman Mark Methot could return Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. Dallas Stars writer Mark Stepneski reported Hitchcock would monitor how Method felt on Thursday before making a decision. Method has missed 26 games with a knee injury. Hitchcock said Martin Hanzal could also return on Thursday. Hanzal has missed the last three games with a lower body injury.

Short week for the Stars as just two games remain before their bye week.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
1/4  vs  Devils    7:30 p.m.
1/6  vs  Oilers    2:00 p.m.