The 2019-20 Dallas Stars are one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League with a 9-1-1 record over their last 11 games. It is remarkable that during this run they are doing it without production from their two highest-paid players. The reason why the Stars are doing so well is they are finally buying into head coach Jim Montgomery‘s system. This has led to depth scoring, better defence, and good goaltending. Let’s a look at what is behind the Stars turnaround.
The Secret Behind the 2019-20 Dallas Stars Success
Coming into the season the expectations were set high for the 2019-20 Dallas Stars. The Stars brought back pretty much the same team that lost in Game 7 of the second round to the St. Louis Blues. Their biggest departure was Mats Zuccarello, who was acquired from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. When the team could not re-sign Zuccarello, the Stars invested in Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry.
These new acquisitions needed time to adjust to a team and structure. As a result, the Stars got off to a poor start. In their first nine games of the season, the Stars had a record of 1-7-1. The only player producing for the Stars was Roope Hintz. Hintz burst on the scene last year for the Stars during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. To say there was growing frustration was a big understatement. When you look at the Stars, the acquisitions they made, everything they have done in the last three to four years, this is a team on paper that can contend for a Stanley Cup and they are off to another tough start.
Over the past 11 games, the Stars have a record of 9-1-1. What has led to this turnaround? It is pretty simple, the players are buying into Montgomery’s system by getting back to their identity of a good defensive team. In the first nine games, the Stars allowed 3.22 goals per game. In the past 11 games, the Stars rank second in the NHL in goals-against average 2.35 goals per game. It also does not hurt that goaltender Ben Bishop is starting to find his game.
Defensively the Stars are playing a much better structure than at the beginning of the season. Like the New York Islanders, the Stars realize taking care of your own end first is more important than scoring goals. Playing good defence leads to opportunities to score. The loss of John Klingberg will be massive, but the Stars are in good hands with Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell back there. In addition, the Stars got some good news as Roman Polak returned to the lineup. He will provide much-needed physicality on defence.
As noted earlier, one thing that is amazing throughout this 11-game stretch is that Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are nowhere to be found on the scoresheet. While Seguin does lead the Stars in points, his numbers are indicative of how he was playing. Not to mention Benn only has one goal in 20 games this season. For the second time in two seasons, both players were called out for their poor play.
In the win against the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night, Seguin had a goal and an assist. Benn recorded an assist to break a five-game point drought. While this is a good sign for the Stars and an even better sign is the secondary scoring they are getting. Aside from Hintz, who is out injured, players like Alexander Radulov, Pavelski, Justin Dowling, Jason Dickinson, and others have picked up the slack. Each night it is somebody else getting that timely goal. Not to mention that Pavelski has found his role with the Stars and now his leadership is coming to the forefront.
What The Future Holds
No team likes going through adversity. However, a little adversity can really show what a team is made of. Adversity can make or break a team. The 2019-20 Dallas Stars have rallied behind each other and are playing much more of a team game. They are getting back to the team everyone expected them to be before the season started. Let’s see if this continues.