Dallas Stars, The Best Team in the Western Conference

Antoine Roussel scored the game winning goal against the Sharks on Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
Antoine Roussel scored the game winning goal against the Sharks on Saturday.
Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Stephen Elliott

On top of the of the NHL’s Western Conference is your Dallas Stars. The Stars finished their month with three consecutive wins at home.

The Stars won 4-3 against the Anaheim Ducks and the Vancouver Canucks before winning their final game in October 5-3 against the San Jose Sharks. Even more wins with three-plus goals, something that has carried over from last year, but they are getting this games done differently.

In the Ducks and Canucks games, the Stars found themselves in last year’s familiar situation, down two goals or more early in the game. Most of these games slipped away from the Stars. The offense emptied the tank leading to defensive gaps that opponents took advantage of leading to an insurmountable lead.

This year’s team looks different. Twice in consecutive nights, the Stars overcame a two-plus goal deficit to win. Against the Ducks, the Stars sloppy puck possession and careless play with the puck lead to a three goal deficit after the first period. One period later, the Stars tied it 3-3. The Stars were down 3-1 in the third period of the Vancouver game before tying and winning in overtime.

There are several thoughts as to why this team looks comfortable while trailing. Maybe the new postseason/veteran experience of Sharp, Oduya and Niemi adds more than filling out the stat book. Maybe the Stars are getting lucky or maybe they are confident in their offense to score goals. The bottom line is the team is winning. These types of games are the ones that bad/mediocre teams lose and separates the top eight teams from the bottom six teams in the conferences. It’s early in the season, but the Stars are headed in the right direction for a postseason bid.

There is still some messes to clean up. It would be easier to win games if you didn’t get yourself in deep deficits. These deficits are contributed to careless giveaways. Their defensive and neutral zone passing needs to improve to relieve pressure from Niemi and Lehtonen having to face opponent breakaways.

The Stars won their first 3-on-3 overtime this season Friday against the Canucks. Jamie Benn scored on a wrist shot over the glove hand of Canucks goaltender, Ryan Miller.

It’s fun to watch 3-on-3 hockey. The rink looks more open and the already fast game speeds up even more. For the most part it avoids the nail-bitting and skill tested shootout that is entertaining to watch but gets away from the team-play. Overtime games are important as each loss is a loss of points. Last year the Stars struggled to pick up the extra point and it the new overtime seems to favor fast teams like the Stars.

The Stars have two players leading the NHL in the top offensive categories. Jamie Benn is top in points (17) and tied for 1st in goals (9) while Seguin is tied on top in assists (11). The two guys on the top line every game continue to lead this team. As these guys go, the Stars go.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
11/2   vs Toronto    6:30pm
11/3   vs Bruins      6:00pm
11/6   vs Carolina   6:00pm
11/8   vs Detroit      2:00pm