Dallas Stars at the midway point of the season

By Martin Iheke

The only positive news for your Dallas Stars last week was that forward Tyler Seguin will be the only Stars representative to play in this year’s NHL All-Star game. Other than that, it was a bad week for the team. They have now lost four in a row after winning the previous four. They are still within striking distance of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Only five points back with a game in hand, but with the way the team played last week, it is looking like they are back to the team we saw in the first couple months for the season.

The biggest issues from last week appear to be backup goalie, the power play and overtime. These were three of my four keys to the season in which they had to improve on from last season if they wanted to not only make the playoffs but potentially be a top three team in the conference. Right now, they are getting nothing out of their backup goalie in Anders Lindback, who was not very good in a 4-2 loss at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets last Tuesday night. He is now 1-6-0 on the season with a 4.26 GAA and a .856 save percentage which is pathetic. Also in that game, the Stars went 0 for 5 on the power play. Last Thursday night at the Nashville Predators, the Stars went 0 for 3 on the power play and lost in overtime, 3-2. They are 0-6 in overtime games this season and 2-13 in the last two seasons including the Game 6 overtime loss at home to the Anaheim Ducks last spring that ended their season.

In overtimes during the regular season, it goes to 4 on 4 which means there is more space for players to create more offensive chances. With the offensive talent the Stars have, you would think this would favor them but it has not. Turning the puck over and your goalie not coming up with some critical saves has played a huge role in their inability to win in overtime.  These are some valuable extra points the Stars are leaving on the board they cannot afford that. “It’s a big concern, it’s frustrating.” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said according to dallasnews.com. “The last two games we had the puck and we gave it away. That hurts.” Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen tries to offer a reason why this team is bad in overtime. “I think the game opens up so much when it’s 4-on-4,” Lehtonen said according to dallasnews.com. “We have our most offensive players and so do they. I’d like to believe that it’s going to turn the other way and we’re going to get the next six. But I don’t know what to make of that stat. It’s not good for us.”

As for the power play, the Stars continue to struggle in this area. Last Saturday afternoon at the Colorado Avalanche, the Stars went 0 for 6 on the job and lost 4-3 after leading 2-0 through the first period. In the last five games, the Stars are 1 for 19 on the power play and 23rd overall in the league. “We have to change, because we’re not successful enough the way it is,” Ruff said according to dallasnews.com. “Kudos for making the plays we did, but the fact is we’re in the lower third of the league in the power play. If we want to win games, we have to be better game in, game out.” One thing that would help is for them to shoot the puck more towards the net. Too many times, this team looks like they are waiting to set up the perfect play to score a goal. That is not how it works most of the time. If it takes scoring an ugly goal, score the ugly goal. A goal is a goal. The power play must improve as well as the backup goalie position for the Stars to have any chance of making the playoffs for the second straight season. They need to start winning in overtime as well. Right now, they are officially at the midway point of the season with a record of 18-16-7 through 41 games.

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