Dallas Stars continue fighting through roller coaster season

The Dallas Stars have been a spectacle to see this season.

Currently, the Dallas Stars have a record of 23-20-4 and are sitting in the first wild-card spot of the Western Conference with a total of 50 points. It’s by no means a bad spot to be sitting at a little over halfway into the season but the road so far has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.

The Dallas Stars had walked into a rough situation right at the start of the season. Although Tyler Seguin had just signed a new eight-year contract, the Stars named their third head coach in three seasons. Jim Montgomery encouraged positive attitudes on and off the ice. For a while, the glow of a new season and new coach lasted. The first quarter of the season the Stars went 11-8-2, not bad for a new coach

It wasn’t long before the Stars roster began to get wreck by injuries. By November 15th, the injury list consisted of Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg, Stephen Johns, Val Nichushkin, Connor Carrick, Marc Methot, and Devin Shore. The team was left with a defense that was stapled together.

From the Thanksgiving break to the Christmas break, the Stars went 6-6-1. Montgomery and his staff began to switch up the lines in hopes of sparking some chemistry between different players, desperately trying to pull his team into a better position.

Following the Stars’ first game back after Christmas, CEO Jim Lites ranted to the media regarding Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin’s production. Lite’s language and tone was, to say the least, aggressive and misplaced. Seguin and Benn, along with Alexander Radulov, have been carrying the Stars this far into the season, alongside goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin.

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Lites’ comments caught the attention of the whole NHL and caused questions to arise regarding the Stars management rather than its players, who had remained positive throughout the whole situation. The team has moved forward, the players have continued with added weight and more focus on the team’s depth.

Where They Are

The Dallas Stars goaltending has saved them on numerous occasions. Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have been picking up the defenses slack when needed. Early in the season, when four of the Stars defensemen were out at the same time, Bishop and Khudobin came to the rescue when need be. In a graph from an ESPN article, the Stars goalies are in a rare spot where both the starting goalie and backup both have a strong save percentage.

Meanwhile, on the scoring side, Seguin, Benn, and Radulov have been lighting up the ice. Currently, this top line is leading in goals, points, and +/- ratings. When it comes to goals, Jamie Benn has 18, Seguin has 17, and Radulov has 14; in fourth place behind them is rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen with nine goals.

There’s a very small amount of production being made from players outside of the top line. In hopes of pushing some more enthusiasm from these other lines, the Stars traded Devin Shore, who was on fire at the start of this season, to the Anaheim Ducks for Andrew Cogliano. With this trade, the Stars are hoping to add more depth and leadership to their locker room.

Defense wise, the Stars have key players that are helping them keep their head above water. Klingberg and Heiskanen have been the standout defensemen that are leading by example. Heiskanen adds the extra ounce of speed and youth that make this defense shine while Klingberg and Esa Lindell add skill that Heiskanen is adding upon.

Where They’re Going

Acquiring one guy is not going to be enough to turn a whole season around. Even if the Stars finish off this season with who they have, maybe make a few small trades here and there, July is going to be an important time for the Stars’ future.

Big names are coming up for free agency in July, for example, center Derick Brassard of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Penguins scouts were spotted at the Stars’ game against Philadelphia, causing fans and media to believe that Brassard can be on the move towards Dallas. He is a 12-year veteran, like Cogliano, with eight goals and six assists in 37 games this season. Brassard’s cap hit for this season is $3 million.

On the other hand, if the Stars should look for a younger guy, Ryan Dzingel is one to consider. Dzingel is a 26-year-old center with 18 goals and 15 assists in 44 games. Dzingel’s cap hit is $1.8 million with the Ottawa Senators.

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If the Stars dream of ever getting further, change is inevitable. The stars of this team are shining but there needs to be talent surrounding them to really make this team blinding to their competition.

Stats from Hockey Reference

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