The Dallas Stars have a problem. They do not score a lot of goals, currently averaging just 2.7 per game (24th in the NHL). This is not a new problem and has been their achilles heel for many years. Now, they finally have a top line that can score at will but the issue of overall scoring remains. The main factor? A lack of depth scoring on a consistent basis. For a team to be successful in the long-term and into the playoffs, they need to have scoring throughout their lineup. That means consistent production from their top six, goals from the blue line, and a bit of chipping in from their bottom-six group. Unfortunately for the Stars in 2021-22, they have been a one-line team and continue to struggle because of it.
Stars Top Line Can’t Do It All
The Stars have one of the best top lines in the entire NHL. The trio of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Joe Pavelski has been an offensive juggernaut for Dallas since they were put together last season. This season, that group has accounted for 28 goals, 31 assists, and 59 total points through 25 games. The problem with that is that they have also accounted for nearly 60% of the Stars total offense. While it is great to have such a dominant line on your team, there has to be some support behind them in order to be successful.
“That’s why I’ve been saying for the last week we need balanced scoring,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said. “We need another line or two to step up and we need offense from our defense and we’re going to keep preaching that.”
Behind that stellar top line, is a load of talent that has struggled to find their game all season. Through the first 25 games, Tyler Seguin has 11 points, Jamie Benn has 13 points, Alexander Radulov has just one goal, Denis Gurianov has four points, Joel Kiviranta has yet to score a goal, and depth players Radek Faksa, Jacob Peterson, Luke Glendening, Tanner Kero, and Michael Raffl have just not chipped in enough.
Balanced scoring becomes even more important on the road, a place where Dallas has struggled this season. During a road game, the home team has the ability to match up with the last change. This makes it far easier to shut down a one-line team, meaning it is no coincidence that the Stars have lost eight of their last nine games on the road this season.
Nothing Coming From Stars Blue Line
Defensively, things do not get much better. After a hot start to the season, Miro Heiskanen has just four points in the last 13 games. Behind him, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Jani Hakanpaa, and Andrej Sekera are all still searching for their first goals of the season. Newcomer Ryan Suter has been the most consistent on the backend, tallying 14 points in 25 games. For any NHL team, this lack of offense from their defense is alarming. For a Stars team that relies heavily on their backend for scoring, only recording six goals all year is sounding every alarm in the building.
On paper, the Stars have plenty of offensive talent. That is a large reason why general manager Jim Nill opted to simply add more defensive-minded players this summer. Unfortunately, what looks good on paper does not always translate to on-ice success. When the team was winning, they rode a smoking hot power play and dominant top line to victory at home. Unfortunately, once their power play cooled down and opponents shut down their top line, things got messy.
If Dallas is going to find consistent success this season, they will need a large increase in production from the rest of their lineup. If they do not get it, it is going to be a familiar struggle, attempting to win every game 1-0 or 2-1, a recipe that has not led to much success in the past.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!