By Wiley Singleton
As the NHL season marches on teams with losing records find themselves in increasingly dire situations. Last year’s regular season Western Conference champions are no exception.
The Dallas Stars need to beat division rivals with losing records if they want to make the playoffs. They have struggled against Winnipeg this season. The Stars went 1-4 against Winnipeg this year, including a humiliating 8 goal defeat. Last year the Stars excelled against Winnipeg, going 4-1.
The 5-3 loss marked the second consecutive division loss for the Stars. The Stars were coming off of a brutal loss vs the Predators that involved a squandered 3-1 lead. Winnipeg offered a nice opportunity for Dallas to right their road woes. Winnipeg is one of only four teams to have a losing record at home.
The Stars did not give up a power play goal, despite having the worst penalty kill in the league. The Stars penalty kill has had trouble adapting without Vernon Fiddler. Fiddler was signed by New Jersey in the off-season but was recently traded to Nashville. Fiddler was the veteran anchor for the Stars penalty kill last year.
The Dallas Stars have struggled profoundly this season. They have only won seven games on the road all year. They are 1-6 in their last seven games. The Stars also have the issue of combining the worst penalty kill the in the league with some of the highest penalty minutes.
The Stars do have a few bright spots this year. Patrick Eaves is having an electric year. Jamie Benn is finally starting to hit his stride. Devin Shore is showing flashes of brilliance.
The same problems that existed last year for the Stars still exist this year: goalie inconsistency. This year there have been new wrinkles added. A plethora of injures, several new defensive players, a completely different penalty kill, and significantly worse offensive output have all affected the Stars this season.
The Stars look unable to replicate the success of last year, and are at risk of missing the playoffs after having the best record in the Western Conference last year.