The Dallas Stars are not known for lighting up the scoreboard, that much we know. However, they are winning a lot of games, thanks to the goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin.
Currently ranked 25th in goals for with 178, Dallas has managed to work its way to a 37-21-8 record, recovering from a slow 1-7-1 season-opening stretch to set themselves up nicely for a playoff spot.
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But before any awards can be handed out, the remainder of the season needs to play itself out. Interestingly enough, Dallas was in a similar position last year at this time, vying for the William M. Jennings Trophy.
Last Season’s Jennings Trophy Race
Looking to be headed to the playoffs for the second straight season, the 2019-20 Stars are doing it much like their predecessors. Last season, Dallas scored the third-fewest goals in the league (210) which was 18 goals fewer than the next playoff team — the New York Islanders (228).
Funny enough, the Islanders were the only team to eclipse the Stars in goals against with their dynamic duo of Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss, which won the Jennings Trophy with just 196 goals given up, while Dallas let in 202.
How is the Race Looking in 2019-20?
Coming down the stretch this go-round, a number of teams are in the mix for the award and in prime position among them is Dallas. Bishop and Khudobin have let in 170 goals through 66 games, a 2.58 team goals-against average (GAA), second behind the Boston Bruins (2.51 GAA) with 168 goals against in 67 games.
With fewer than 20 games remaining, sights are becoming clearer, but there is a lot of hockey left to play. Also in the mix are the Colorado Avalanche (177 goals, 66 games), the Arizona Coyotes (178, 67) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (181, 68), but time is running out for the teams lower on the list.
An In-Depth Look at Ben Bishop’s Season
Bishop is in his third season in Big D and is coming off of finishing second in Vezina Trophy voting last season with a 1.98 GAA, a .934 save percentage (SV%) and seven shutouts (all career highs). It’s no surprise he is back to his usual antics.
While his numbers aren’t as glowing as last season’s, the 6-foot-7 goalie is still dominating with a 2.49 GAA and a .921 SV%; both rank ninth among goalies with 25 games played (the minimum to accept the Jennings Trophy).
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Bishop is still a solid No. 1 goalie and the Stars are lucky to have him. However, it will be interesting to see if Bishop, who played all 13 games last postseason, will start every game this playoff, seeing as though his No. 2 is having a career year himself.
An In-Depth Look at Anton Khudobin’s Season
Well, well, well, who could’ve foreseen this? Khudobin, who has started 29 games this season, has better stats than the three-time Vezina finalist.
Khudobin sits second on the goalie list with a .929 SV% and third with a 2.22 GAA, both career highs. Standing a solid eight inches shorter than his teammate, “Dobby” has a different style of play.
Unlike Bishop, who can look up and over many screens, Khudobin ducks low, stands on the toes of his skates and contorts his body in just about any way possible to get a look at the puck — and he does.
The second-year Star has captured the hearts of those deep in the heart of Texas with his dazzling saves easy-going personality, commonly making jokes and keeping things light-hearted especially when he sits between the benches at American Airlines Center.
Unfortunately, due to strong play, Dallas may lose a cog in its dynamic duo come October.
What Will the Stars’ Goalie Situation Look Like in 2020-21?
Half of the goalie tandem is in jeopardy of relocation this offseason, and rightfully so. Khudobin is in the last season of his deal and with the numbers he has put up, a team could be in the market to make Dobby a No. 1 goalie for their squad next season.
Bishop has three more years before he becomes a free agent, so what happens if Khudobin packs his bags? Well, the Stars could always shop for a backup, but when their premiere keeper sat out on March 3, Dallas’ 2017 first-round pick Jake Oettinger made his first NHL appearance, backing up against the Edmonton Oilers in the 2-1 overtime loss.
So while there are lots of questions that need answers before the Stars take the ice in October, they have more pressing issues at hand, namely, a run at the Stanley Cup thanks to the outstanding play of their potential Jennings Trophy-winning goalie tandem.