The Dallas Stars currently occupy first place…not just in the Central Division and the Western Conference, but first place in the National Hockey League. Their 3.41 goals per game is tops in the league, while their goals against average of 2.56 marks an improvement of more than half a goal per game over last season. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are currently tied for second in the NHL’s scoring race, while defenseman John Klingberg is second among defensemen and is tied for eighth among all players. Thus far, the team has been relatively injury-free. Off the ice, attendance is up: Through twelve home dates, the Stars have six sellouts and are averaging 18,114 fans per game, a significant bump up from last season’s per-game average of 17,350. The Dallas Stars are in high cotton, as the saying goes, but they do have one particularly worrisome issue.
Every team commits turnovers, and teams which possess the puck more also turn the puck over more. Particularly worrisome for the Stars of late is the number of turnovers which have resulted in goals for the opposition. Dallas has surrendered nineteen goals in the last six games, eleven of which were the direct result of turnovers. What is both comforting and confounding is the wide variety of turnovers. In other words, the Stars aren’t making the same mistake over and over again; instead, they keep finding new ways to cough up the puck. Here are just a few examples:
1) Klingberg Channels Zubov
Stars fans old enough to remember Sergei Zubov remember not only his offensive genius, but also his penchant for committing (what seemed like) one egregious turnover per game. Just as they forgave Zubov his trespasses, so shall they forgive John Klingberg, though many will wonder why such a talented player does things like this:
Or this, in the very next game:
2) Forward Foibles
The turnover problem isn’t all Klingberg’s fault, not by a long shot. In addition to the other defensemen on the roster, Stars forwards have committed their fair share of costly gaffes, as seen here:
3) The Stars’ “Puck-in-the-Skates” Problem
Because of the bulky gear hockey players wear and the need to keep ones head up at all times, the area of the ice directly below the player is a blind spot. When the puck gets in there, bad things happen, as Tyler Seguin can attest:
It’s hard to lay the blame for this one at Jyrki Jokipakka’s feet, even if that’s where the puck was:
After a gaffe-tastic 7-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Stars’ Captain Jamie Benn said, “We gave them pretty much all their goals, just bad turnovers.” He wasn’t off by much: Five of seven Senators scores originated with Stars turnovers. In their last six games, Dallas has allowed eleven goals off of turnovers. Surprisingly, their record in those games is 3-1-2. Though netting eight points from six games is good, that level of success is simply not sustainable over the long haul if the Stars keep turning the puck over with such frequency. Sometimes the puck gets lost in a player’s skates, sometimes it simply flutters off the stick blade; those types of turnovers can’t be helped. Where careless/sloppy turnovers are concerned, however, Dallas definitely has room for improvement. They must correct those issues before the law of averages catches up with them.