The Dallas Stars have a goal-scoring problem. Over the past few seasons, they have finished near the bottom of the league in goals and near the top in goals against. This season, with the return of a fully healthy lineup, it was expected that they would be able to put both pieces together. However, through eight games, Dallas has only scored 14 goals, ranking 31st in the league at 1.75 goals per game. On top of that, they have yet to score more than two goals in regulation, have scored only one goal in half of their games, and currently rank last in the league with just seven 5-on-5 goals.
Stars Are ‘All Swedish, No Finish’
This phrase is a hockey classic used to describe a team or player that creates plenty of scoring chances with skilled play but cannot convert them into goals. The Stars have done just that early in the season. While they have struggled mightily to score goals, it has not been due to a lack of chances. Dallas currently sits in the middle of the pack, averaging over 30 shots on goal per game, and continues to create many high-danger scoring chances.
“Again, 20 scoring chances and one goal. The chances we’re getting should put us back in the game and we don’t score. The right guys are getting the chances and it’s not going in for them right now. We can’t give anybody three goals like we did tonight [Friday night], but we’re generating enough offensive chances to get back us back in the game at the right times, but we don’t capitalize on them. It’s that simple.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness following a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators
Specifically, over the last two games, Dallas has created plenty of offense to win. They have dominated play at times, resulting in high-quality chances from high-danger areas on the ice. Unfortunately, whether they miss the net, ring the post, or see a highlight-reel save from the goalie, they have not found a way to finish those chances on a consistent basis.
“You’ve got to find ways to score goals in this league, and we’ve had some great looks. We had second chances, we had breakaways, we had back-door one-timers, we had zone time, it’s just not going in right now. It’s a little frustrating. Some of the looks we had tonight, I would take those all over again. There’s a lot of good chances out there, and at the end of the day, you have to score.– Stars forward Joe Pavelski
Meanwhile, on the other end, Stars opponents have found a way to convert, even on minimal chances. While players and coaches continue to preach about not getting frustrated, that is a lot easier said than done. When your team dominates play, creating loads of chances only to see the opponent score on one of their two shots in the entire period (Friday night against Ottawa), frustration is only natural.
Opposing Goaltenders Shine Against Stars
At some point, you need to shine the light on the common theme. While the Stars can look at many of their games and say they were outplayed by a netminder, that excuse eventually expires. When this happens over and over against goaltenders of all skill levels, it becomes clear that the issue lies within the team itself.
“If there was a simple answer to that (how to fix goal-scoring issues), every guy who played in this league would be a 30-goal scorer. There’s not a simple answer. You get out there, you see an opening and you take your shot. The important thing is you’re getting Grade A chances and then it’s up to the player to put the puck in the net.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
Unfortunately for the Stars, their head coach is absolutely correct. At this point, it no longer comes down to strategy or coaching. The players need to find a way to bear down and make sure their chances count.
Stars Have A Lot To Build On
If you are more of the ‘glass is half full’ type, there is certainly a lot to build on for this team moving forward. They finally have their full roster healthy, have heavily outplayed their opponents in the past two games, and seem ready to blow the lid off of their goal-scoring. It feels that if they can have one offensive explosion in the next few games, it could open the flood gates for the rest of the season. The Stars firmly believe this and think they are very close to putting it all together.
“It was a direct game (Wednesday against Vegas), and it started with our compete level. It was a game we wanted to go out and win. You saw it up and down the lineup. Guys were engaged and ready to play. We were feeling good and did a lot of the little things right. The process was there. It was one of our most complete games. That’s how you win in this league. You have to put that game out continuously. You’re going to find some wins.”– Stars forward Joe Pavelski
Echoing the issues from last season, Bowness continues to show his confidence in the way his team plays, believing that the puck will eventually start going in the net. He and his staff believe the Stars are doing more than enough to win games and want to see the same effort on a nightly basis.
“They came on hard in the third, we battled back, Robo (Jason Robertson) hit the crossbar in overtime, but it was one of those nights where the puck just wouldn’t go in. At least we put a lot more shots on the net and we had a lot more scoring opportunities, so that’s the good news. It’s disappointing to lose that point, but we certainly did a lot of good things.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
For Dallas, the focus will be on building off what they have done but finishing more of the chances they are creating. With Roope Hintz and Jamie Benn sitting empty in the goal-scoring column and many other top players struggling to find their game, this team seems capable of putting it all together. Now, it is about doing it.
“We want to build on tonight, for sure. Offensively, that’s the best game we played. Zone time and quality chances were clearly on our side. The puck’s got to go in here at some point, so we’ve just got to stay with it.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
The Stars will try to build as they head on the road for a three-game trip through Canada. Dallas will begin their trip in Winnipeg tonight before traveling to Calgary and Vancouver later in the week.
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!