Tuesday night marked the fourth straight loss for the Dallas Stars, and unlike the previous three, the game was never in doubt. The Winnipeg Jets came out and absolutely smacked the Stars 5-1, dominating in every phase of the game. In the post-game interview, head coach Jim Montgomery said it was the “worst game of the season.”
“We never responded throughout the game,” Montgomery said.
“Talk is cheap right now,” forward Tyler Seguin said about Thursday night’s rematch. “It comes down, probably to how we compete.”
While teams win and lose together, the Stars’ biggest issue isn’t on the defensive side. Goalies Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin are playing well and defensemen Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg have both scored in the last two games. Dallas needs to address its forwards over the recent losing streak.
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The Stars’ corps of forwards are not playing their best hockey over this stretch. The losing streak has seen the team fall from one of the hottest scoring teams in the NHL to going ice cold. The Stars haven’t scored in the first period over the last four games and have committed a significant amount of turnovers.
Radulov Doing More Damage than Good
Forward Alexander Radulov is probably the Stars’ biggest issue over the four-game losing streak. Radulov has without a doubt cost the Stars two of their last four games. When the Stars lost to the Blackhawks, Radulov recorded a late penalty that killed momentum while hunting for a game-tying goal. His second offense came against the Minnesota Wild. Dallas was winning the game when Radulov committed a holding penalty. The Wild’s power-play goal sent the game into overtime where they won in a shootout.
Tuesday night, Radulov picked up a slashing penalty. The slashing didn’t cost the Stars the game, but it’s part of an alarming trend. Radulov is tied for second in the league for minor penalties with 15 this season. He also leads all forwards in the statistic.
Yes, Radulov is a pitbull on the ice, hunting down pucks and being physical. However, there is a distinct difference in playing aggressive and playing recklessly. Over the losing streak, has not recorded a point and he is minus-three. Radulov has to start playing more with his head and not his brawn in order to help lift the Stars out this dip before it becomes a hole. If he can’t do that, then it will be time to search for players who will.
Next to Nothing From Hintz
He might be the team’s leading goal scorer, but it’s time to start questioning why the Stars have a losing record with Roope Hintz in the lineup.
Hintz’s return from injury was surrounded with optimism and the expectation that Dallas would more firepower to the offense. But what looked like a machine gun scoring nearly four points a game, suddenly jammed when Hintz came back. The Stars are averaging 1.5 goals a game (in regulation) in the last six. The team is 2-4 over the stretch and haven’t won a single game on the road. Hintz has contributed two goals but has zero assists and is minus-four.
The zero assists over the last six games is the most telling stat in all of this. Hintz has to start finding his teammates. Denis Gurianov, Radulov, Seguin, and Jamie Benn have all been on the same line as HIntz since Justin Dowling’s injury. None of those linemates have scored a goal and Benn has the lone point of the bunch. If Hintz cannot increase his assist totals, Montgomery needs to look at adding him to the third line instead of second or first.
“Monty, Where’s Dowling?”
Dowling has gone MIA in the Stars lineup over the last few nights. It’s not his fault, he was considered day-to-day because of an injury. Since the injury he played one game against the St. Louis Blues – he had no points and spent two minutes in the penalty box. Assuming Dowling has recovered since he played Friday, you have to ask why Montgomery isn’t putting him on the ice.
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Earlier this season, Dowling’s line with Benn and Seguin scored 16 points over a three-game stretch and Dowling was walking away with a point per game. The three of them were in agreement the line had outstanding chemistry. Since Dowling’s injury, Seguin hasn’t picked up a single point and Benn only recorded a single assist. Montgomery needs to stop tinkering with this line and understand that he’s already cracked the code.