Dallas Stars: Who Is Hot & Who Is Not

After their game against the Minnesota Wild on March 6, the Dallas Stars will have just under 30 games left of the regular season, and time is ticking away to make a playoff spot. They have had a wild season full of high and low points, with inconsistent play still being their greatest weakness.

But there are still some games to go. There is still room to push themselves, to rely on the heavy players and encourage those that haven’t had the greatest of seasons. With that to consider, let’s take a look at whose season is looking up and whose still needs some work as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach.

Stars: Who Is Hot

The Benn-Seguin-Guiranov Trio

While the Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski line has been getting the most attention, the second line is proving they deserve some too. 

Head coach Rick Bowness made the decision in December to put Tyler Seguin back with his line-soulmate Jamie Benn, along with Denis Gurianov. All three players had a tough start to the season, unable to score or produce chances, but the minute they were back together, there was a noticeable improvement in all three of their games. They started producing more points and adding consistency to the team.

Denis Gurianov Dallas Stars
Denis Gurianov, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What really propelled the line was putting Seguin in the centre position. Currently, the forward has 30 points (17 goals and 13 assists). Bowness has recently praised his skating abilities, saying that the Brampton-native is beginning to find “his legs, his body, and his game.” Despite the fact that he was scratched for the game against the Winnipeg Jets on March 4, he’s been looking more like himself on the ice.

Benn and Gurianov both have seen improvements themselves, although neither generated as much momentum as Seguin has on that line. However, the Stars’ captain has 29 points (13 goals and 16 assists), and Gurianov has 24 points (nine goals and 15 assists).

While there is still room for improvement, the line is well on its way to becoming a dominating force as the season rounds out. They’ll need to stay consistent if they want to stay hot enough to fight for a playoff spot.

Jake Oettinger

The Stars’ goaltending situation has been rocky since the start of the season, rotating between Anton Khudobin, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger amidst their own inconsistencies. But lately, the youngest goaltender has been shining the brightest.

Related: Dallas Stars: Who Is Hot & Who Is Not

Despite starting off the season in the American Hockey League (AHL), he has proven in the last few months that he deserves to be the starting netminder. His save percentage is currently .922, and he’s been the starter in net for the past several games up to March 2. He’s been a favourite among his teammates and his coaches as well. 

Jake wants the ball. He wants to run with it. You’ve got to love that about him. If you asked him to go to practice tomorrow for an hour, he’d be the first guy on the ice.

Stars head coach Rick Bowness

At just 23 years old, he’s proving to be a strong part of the team and perhaps a key to their consistency. He’s 7-2-1 since the beginning of February and has stood solid between the pipes for his team. He has a desire to be there for his teammates and self-improve unlike any other player, and his drive just may inspire his teammates to make the playoffs.

Stars: Who Is Not

Alexander Radulov 

There was a time when Alexander Radulov was a major player on the roster. While he still remains a well-known face of the franchise, he hasn’t really convinced the fans that he deserves to be. Even earlier in the season, he wasn’t putting up the points he should’ve been.

Normally a first liner, he’s been consistently sitting on the fourth line with Joel Kiviranta and Jacob Peterson and only has 18 points so far, with only three of those being goals.

Alexander Radulov
Dallas Stars right wing Alexander Radulov (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

In short, he needs to be better. He’s nearly unnoticeable on the ice when the game is underway. He used to be one of Dallas’ top scorers, and the team isn’t seeing that from him. As a veteran forward, many younger players may look to him, but now, they’re turning their heads to new veterans like Pavelski. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, he may end up finding himself a home somewhere else.

Unfortunately, Radulov has fallen into the shadows, and while his old linemates (Seguin and Benn) have seemingly found their groove, albeit late in the season, he hasn’t seemed to have found his.

The Stars’ Inconsistent Game

This isn’t the first time that the Stars’ issues with inconsistency have come up, and frankly, it may not be the last either. If there is one aspect of their game that needs to improve overall, it’s this. All NHL teams know that failing to be consistent in their play during the season and playoffs will be detrimental to their success. And after their NHL bubble season, where the Cup slipped through their hands at the very last second, this team should be hungrier than ever. 

They need to ask more of their veterans and their young blood, they need their goaltenders to be unbelievably confident in the crease, and they need their intensity to be at an all-time high. Grittier play and healthy, strong athletes are the only thing that can save them in these last months of the regular season.

Time is set to fly as these last few games unfold for the Stars. As they take on the Wild on March 6, their playing abilities may just set the tone for the rest of their season. Let’s hope the team isn’t on borrowed time until then.

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