The Dallas Stars season had a bumpy first month to the season. They finished with a 3-4-1 record, earning just seven points in eight games. There were plenty of ups and downs as they tried to find their game but overall, they still have a lot of improvements to make. Here are the main positives and negatives to take away from October.
Stars Struggled To Score Goals
Dallas continued their ongoing scoring issues. In eight games, they scored just 14 goals, ranked 31st in the league at 1.75 goals per game. What’s more alarming is that they didn’t score more than two goals in regulation throughout the month, while half of their opponents held them to a single goal.
Stars Inconsistency Was Frustrating
The most frustrating part of the month was the Stars’ inconsistent play. At times they heavily outplayed their opponents, created chances, and scored goals. Other times they hardly stayed afloat. The second period was their enemy in the first eight games as they were outscored 10-4 and heavily outshot. On opening night in New York, the Rangers outshot Dallas 18-8, scoring two unanswered goals to tie the game at two. The Stars seemed to fall into a lull or take mini naps during the game and sometimes never woke up. For head coach Rick Bowness, the frustration boiled over.
What’s worse is that Dallas played well once they re-engaged in the game. Unfortunately, by that time, they’d dug themselves into a hole that they couldn’t climb out of. Overall, the Stars have yet to play a full 60 minutes this season.
Stars Top Players Unable To Find Their Game
Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, and Alexander Radulov all entered the season following offseason surgery. While they each hoped they would begin the season in good form, it took some time before they found their game. Seguin scored his first goal in the home-opener against the Los Angeles Kings, but Radulov hit the scoresheet in the seventh game against the Vegas Golden Knights, while Hintz has yet to find the back of the net.
Jamie Benn (1 point), Joe Pavelski (1 goal), Denis Gurianov (1 goal), and John Klingberg (0 points in four games due to injury) also struggled to start the season.
Holtby Solid In Net
Braden Holtby answered the Stars’ goaltending questions almost immediately. In six games, he has a .918 save percentage and a 2.33 goals-against average. In his first four starts, he was even better with a .948 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average. While his last few games have not been as impressive, he has proved that he is still capable of playing at an elite level and has earned the starting job early in the season.
Stars New Faces Fitting In
The Stars have five new faces trying to fit in this season, many of whom had played much of their careers in a single city. However, newcomers Luke Glendening, Michael Raffl, Ryan Suter, Jani Hakanpaa, and Holtby have all fit in nicely so far.
Glendening has shined on the penalty kill and in faceoff dot while also adding two early goals, Raffl has three points and helped solidify the Stars’ checking game, Suter has found a home paired with Klingberg, Hakanpaa has found his physical game, and Holtby has shined as the starter over Anton Khudobin. The good news is that all these players will likely get better as they grow more accustomed to the system and team as a whole.
Stars Suffer Few Injuries
Last season, the Stars’ Achilles heel was injuries. They have struggled with injuries the past few years, both in the regular season and playoffs. This season began with a scare as Jason Robertson and Blake Comeau were ruled out for opening night. Klingberg then needed to be helped off the Madison Square Garden ice after taking an awkward hit behind the net. However, the difference this season is that each player only missed a bit of time; Klingberg missed three games while both Robertson and Comeau missed the first five.
After losing Bishop, Seguin, and Radulov for most of last season and seeing Hintz, Radek Faksa, and Khudobin play through significant injuries, this has been a blessing. Not including Bishop, who was placed on long-term injured reserve before the season, Dallas rolled out a healthy lineup for the first time in years last week against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Stars Trending Up
While the Stars have had their struggles, there are some positives to build on. After being outshot in each of their first five games, they have flipped the script, outshooting three of their last four opponents, often by a wide margin. On top of that, they continue to create a high number of scoring chances. While they have had issues finishing on those chances, it’s something to build on. If they can find a way to convert, they will become a higher-scoring team.
Finally, although their top players have not yet found their game or tallied many points, most of them have played significantly better in each game that passes. There are no moral victories, and eventually, playing better doesn’t mean anything if they don’t win games. However, it is still early in the season, and Dallas will try to build off their recent play and start putting together complete games while picking up more points.
After playing eight of the first 11 games on the road, Dallas will have a home-heavy schedule in November. Following their Canadian road trip, they will play seven of the next nine games at American Airlines Center. If you want the ‘glass is half full’ take early on, the Stars have played poorly but have managed to stay afloat in the standings as they continue to improve their game each night. Hopefully, it only gets better from here.
Sam Nestler is a credentialed 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 Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!