The Dallas Stars closed out the decade with back-to-back wins against the Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche. Keeping the good times going into the New Year will require a few resolutions for Rick Bowness and company.
Pump-up the Power Play
When Derek Laxdal took over the Stars’ power play, few people knew his name outside of the Austin area. Needless to say, most fans still don’t know his name. The Stars have one of the worst power plays in the NHL, ranking 25th. The Stars have only been able to record 19 power play goals this season. Since Laxdal took over, the Stars have only scored three times on the power play.
“Bottom line, the Stars need their power play to add that all-important half a goal per game that helps convert their stingy goals against average (second in the NHL this season at 2.44 per game) into victories. Of course, they also want to add positivity and make sure the power play doesn’t drag things down — as it did earlier in the season during the 1-7-1 start.”Mike Heika | NHL.com
The Stars’ power play has been about as dangerous as a box of kittens at times. However, it was only a couple of weeks ago, before the Jim Montgomery firing, that the Stars’ power play was outperforming the team’s five-on-five work. Dallas needs to find the right combination to add the potency back into special teams. The answers could also lie in the Stars’ developing talent.
Invest in Young Talent
While Monday night against the Coyotes saw Stars veterans like Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov make drastic impacts, over the last few games Dallas has seen regular contributions from their younger players. Over the last five games, defenseman Miro Heiskanen, and forwards Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz have all recorded points. The days of Benn and company being the face of the franchise isn’t over, but the kids have come to contribute in Dallas.
Over the last few games, the biggest young gun for the Stars has been Gurianov. In his last four games, Gurianov has points. The 22-year-old Russian is earning his spot on the roster and deserves a bigger role in the Stars’ gameplan. Hintz is also making the younger players look good, leading the team in goals and sits fifth in points. With Stars in the bottom tier of the league in goals per game, getting the younger players more opportunities could boast production.
Find More Offense
The biggest trade thus far this season has been Taylor Hall going to the Coyotes. The jury is still out on how successful that trade will turn out. When rumors were still swirling around the Hall trade, multiple reports say the Stars were in the mix but the asking price was simply too high. Much of what the New Jersey Devils were looking for concerned young talent like Gurianov. The Stars also lacked the pick values the Devils would have also needed. But come February, the Stars will need to be in the market for a solid piece of offense again.
When you look at the offensive statistics for the season, the Stars never crack into the top half of the league. In fact, the only stat the Stars break out of the top twenty is shots on goal, where they rank 18th. No one on the roster has recorded fifteen goals and only three players are in double digits. The team already has an elite defense, so finding a player who can contribute around the net is critical come playoff time.
Last season, the addition of left wing Mats Zuccarello was the answer. He was dynamite in his thirteen playoff appearances and seemingly unlocked the Stars roster potential. While he was in Dallas, the Stars saw the deepest playoff run they had in years. The Stars need to go hunting and find that type of lightning in the bottle again.
The new year has a high ceiling for the Stars and if the team can keep these resolutions they will be successful. This is a talented team that’s found themselves in the divisional race, despite a skid or two. The Stars ring in 2020 in the Winter Classic Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.