With 25 out of their 48 games now behind them, the Dallas Stars find themselves just past the midway point of their 2013 season.
Sporting a roster that is a fusion between bright-eyed rookies and grizzled veterans, the Stars have predictably bounced up, down and all around the Western Conference, and currently sit in 11th place with a modest record of 12-11-2.
Although the digits in those categories – wins, losses, and ties – are the ultimate statistics that determine the fate of any NHL squad, they only show a fraction of the reasons why the team has gotten to that point. Looking closer at the numbers allows one to get a better glimpse of all the various stories and trends that more accurately tell the tale of a team’s season.
That being said, here now is a quick rundown of some of the impressive, distressing and odd numerical notables that help to show who the 2013 Dallas Stars are, how they’ve gotten to this point, and where they might be going as the season advances onward.
.924: When trying to determine who Dallas’ MVP is this season it’s not even a close contest. Kari Lehtonen, as evidenced by his .924 save percentage and 9-5-1 record, has been an absolute lifesaver for the Stars, winning them multiple games that, as a team, they otherwise did not deserve to win. The 29-year old Finn’s numbers might not be as high as other goalies around the league, but few other goalies have had to deal with as troubled of a blueline as Dallas has had this season. Richard Bachman’s .848% and Cristopher Nilstorp’s .897% are a glaring example of that. Anyone that’s watched Lehtonen closely this season knows that his name is completely deserving of being mentioned in early Vezina discussions.
40: Despite being the ripe old age of 40 years old, Jaromir Jagr is showing right now that he is still capable of playing at the NHL level. Jagr’s 18 points in 24 games certainly don’t echo his dominant statistical outbursts from the 1990s, but they are still good enough to lead the Stars up to this point. His five powerplay goals are also tops on the team. Fellow 40 year-old Ray Whitney has been pretty good himself, with six points in nine games, although a broken foot has caused him to miss a ton of action.
12th: While having the NHL’s 12th ranked powerplay doesn’t seem like a huge accomplishment, it’s leaps and bounds better than the dreadful 30th place finish that the Stars suffered through last season. The summertime additions of Jagr, Whitney and Derek Roy, all players acquired in large part because of their powerplay capabilities, have been integral for the PP’s turnaround.
5: Speaking of Dallas’ troubled blueline, one of the group’s biggest issues right now is its inability to create offense. Dallas’ defencemen have only combined for five goals this year, with three of them coming off the stick of freshman Brenden Dillon. Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski, arguably Dallas’ two most important defencemen, have zero between them, although a combined 21 assists (12 for Goligoski, nine for Robidas) help make up for that goose egg a little.
15: Through all 25 Stars games this season, rookie-ish (he played 30 games last season for the Washington Capitals so he’s not technically a rookie) center Cody Eakin has been providing consistent depth scoring (15 points) for a team that desperately lacked it last year. The feisty 21 year-old has created plenty of much-needed offense from the third line center position and hasn’t looked out of place filling in on the top two lines when both Benn and Roy have missed time.
-7: This is, by far, the ugliest single stat on this list, and it belongs to Jamie Benn’s plus-minus rating through 19 games. Even though he is Dallas’ first line center and is tied for second on the team with 16 points, Benn is dead last for plus-minus, and that can’t happen for a player that is pegged as both the present and future of the franchise. Benn’s defensive game has been lacking so far into 2013, and it will need to significantly improve if he is to continue going toe-to-toe against the top lines of other teams.
2: When left wing Eric Nystrom exploded for a career-high 16 goals last season, many Dallas Stars fans were left wondering whether the outburst was Nystrom finally living up to the potential that saw him get drafted 10th overall by the Calgary Flames in 2002, or if it was but a statistical anomaly for a player that had only scored 23 goals in 286 games up until that season. Nystrom’s mere two goals in 25 games for the Stars this year, putting him on a pace for seven goals over the course of an 82-game season, shows that it is a case of the latter and not the former.
9: Having one, two, or even three rookies play for a team during a season is by no means a strange phenomenon…but nine? Yet that’s exactly the case in Dallas, where nine rookies have already dressed for the Stars this season, with varying results. Despite all the inevitable growing pains, this shockingly large number still remains as a testament to how much organizational prospect depth the Stars have accumulated over the last few seasons, and is a bright sign that the team’s outlook for the future is becoming more and more promising.
8/10: This fraction represents the most important stat of all on this list. The Stars have played more games on the road so far this season than they have at home, but play eight out of their next 10 at the American Airlines Center. This crucial homestand could easily make or break the Stars’ season: a strong performance will vault the team right into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, but a disappointing showing could be an early crushing blow to Dallas’ postseason aspirations.
Derek Neumeier primarily covers the Dallas Stars, but also other various topics related to the sport of hockey. A Journalism graduate of Mount Royal University, Derek also writes for Defending Big D, and has done previous work with the Edmonton Oilers as a communications intern and Hockey Canada as a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @Derek_N_NHL