The Dallas Stars currently sit in sixth place in the Central Division with a record of 18-14-1. In their past five games, the Stars have gone 2-3-0. In those five games, the Stars have scored 12 goals and have let up 16. On the surface, these numbers are not horrendous. They certainly are not satisfactory, but they do not seem too bad. But what is concerning is how inconsistent and streaky the Stars have been this season. Let’s take a look…
Dallas Stars Inconsistency Creating Issues
The Stars have been very streaky this season. One week they are hot, then another they appear to be off, and fall out of the win column. Then they will start to heat up, only to have that come to an end and hit a slump for a bit.
After an embarrassing 6-1 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Stars were desperate. They needed to gather some points and get something going. Towards the end of November, they did just that. They won two games back-to-back, lost one, and then went on a five-game tear. They were looking sharp in all aspects of the game- goaltending was on point, the Stars were scoring (23 goals in those five games) and the defence was stout (11 goals allowed). But then they suffered a 5-2 loss against the Nashville Predators, followed by a 3-0 shutout defeat against the hot St. Louis Blues. After a day off, they lost yet again to the Vegas Golden Knights 5-3.
The Stars were looking to get back on track, setting to the east coast for a road trip. They beat the New York Rangers in a shootout 2-1, then followed that up with a dominant 5-2 victory against the New York Islanders. The Stars were looking to make it three in a row Friday night in New Jersey against the Devils, but were out-gunned 5-2.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) December 16, 2017
Looking at these past several weeks, we can see one major theme in the Stars play- inconsistency. Now every team goes through streaks like this, but it is al
“They have been so inconsistent, that’s it’s tough to pinpoint that one. Their special teams play has declined, their goal-scoring has declined, their goaltending is more inconsistent. If they can play like they did Monday, then I would say they are much better at keeping their sticks on the ice and clogging passing lanes, they are much better at gap control, and they are much better at supporting their teammates with strong positioning. Monday’s game was textbook Hitchcock with hard work and smart play dictating control of the puck and driving the other team crazy. It showed that they are learning what the new coaching staff wants, so that is progress.” (Via Stars beat writer Mike Heika following the Stars shootout victory over NYR)
The Stars schedule is starting to pick up before the holiday break sets in. They face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, a team that is looking to make Dallas its sixth straight victim. The Philly game will be a huge test for the Stars. A test to break out of their inconsistency woes and rebound after that loss to the Devils. After Philly, they take on the Washington Capitals, the Chicago Blackhawks, and then wrap things up against the Predators. These three games are crucial and the Stars need to win two of the three in order to not fall behind in the standings.
Motivation is Needed in Order to Rebound
The Stars need to be determined and motivated to win these last three games. An 82 game season is demanding and with things like injuries and line shuffles- this makes it all the more challenging. The Stars are 8-10-1 on e road, and need to avoid making that record worse on Saturday in Philly. They then will return home for the final three games before Christmas. In order to be successful during this stretch, Dallas needs to capitalize on their chances and score.
“Most of it is on us,” said winger Alexander Radulov in an interview with SportsDay Dallas. “We had chances to come back, really good chances. Five-on-three for me and five-on-four we get a lot of chances, but we didn’t put a puck in the back of the net. Then we get scored on. Like the coach said, the way we played in our zone today, we can’t do that. All of us, it’s just not acceptable.”
Radulov is right- it is not acceptable. The Stars were hot when they were on their win streak and were scoring plenty of goals, but after that, they failed to score enough to win. Dallas needs to be strong in the neutral zone and generate chances, both by the forwards and the defense.
DALLAS, TX – NOVEMBER 10: Dallas Stars Right Wing Jason Spezza (90) handles the puck during the NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars on November 10, 2017 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)