The Dallas Stars have been pushing vigorously for a berth in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In a competitive and heated Central Division, it is no surprise that they have struggled a bit here and there. Now, with only so many weeks left in the regular season, the Stars have hit a rough patch. Roster shakeups, lack of offence, and poor special teams have led to a skid in the Stars playoff chase.
Dallas Stars Playoff Chase Hits Speed Bump
While the Stars are 4-4-2 in their last ten games played, they are also 2-1-2 in their last five games. While several of those games have gone to overtime and have been competitive, the result of two have been a loss. However, this week the Stars are coming off back-to-back losses to the hands of the Ottawa Senators and the Nashville Predators.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 7, 2018
Struggles on Offense
The Stars have looked like they have struggled in those games offensively, and with their defence being down a man in the injured Esa Lindell, players like John Klingberg were playing double, even triple shifted times. Dallas is also missing centerman Radek Faksa to injury. His line with Tyler Pitlick, and Antoine Roussel are the Stars best at getting through the neutral zone and into the offensive end.
Without Faksa, you can see the struggle Dallas has gone through. They were unable at times to get through centre ice and into opposing territory to generate some offense and shots. Pitlick and Roussel saw their Corsi numbers drop, with Pitlick at 40.0 CF% during the back-to-back series (50.5 CF% is his season mark), and Roussel dropping from his high of 53.5% to 38.4%.
Being without Faksa and Lindell is bad enough, but recently Ben Bishop has been sidelined with a knee injury. This just makes things worse, but not horrible. One must tip their hat to the recent play of Kari Lehtonen, who has stepped up in the absence of Bishop and has played great. He has done his best to keep the Stars in games, but due to their recent lack of scoring, his efforts have gone to waste.
Special Teams Lacking
While the Stars penalty kill has been excellent in their past ten games played (all season too actually), their power-play has been missing. In their past ten matches, the Stars have scored just a mere three goals on 18 total power-play opportunities. That equals out to around 17% on the man-advantage. It has been lacking especially when the Stars needed it most.
In Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Preds, the Stars PP went 0-4, failing to convert in the big moments, and as a result, it led to the loss of the game, and them being blanked by Pekka Rinne. In their 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on February 24th, the Stars went 0-4 and again on Feb. 21 against the Anaheim Ducks (2-0 loss). It is disappointing to see the power-play struggle, especially when the Stars are involved in very close fights. And it hurts, even more, knowing that the Dallas power-play unit was top dog in the NHL earlier this season.
No Need to Jump Ship
The Stars sit at 37-24-6 with 80 points total. Eighty points in 67 games is a thing to be happy about, but one cannot get too giddy. With 15 games remaining this season, there is still plenty of time for teams to jump around the standings, and that includes the Stars. As of right now, Wednesday, the Stars sit in the first Wild Card Slot in the West, three points behind the Minnesota Wild for third place in the Central Division. The race is on, and it is up to the Stars to buckle up and fight their way into the post season.