Stars Can’t Afford to Leave Points on the Table

The Dallas Stars currently sit seventh in the Discover Central Division and are very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. They’re only six points out of the fourth-place position that is needed to secure their entry into the postseason. While it’s a very doable goal, it won’t be if the team keeps leaving points on the table.

So Close Yet so Far

The Stars lead the division in overtime/shootout losses, with nine so far this season. While they are missing Tyler Seguin, who led the team in overtime goals last season, they have plenty of players who are capable of stepping up to fill that role. While it is positive that the Stars are getting at least one point out of those games, it’s still extremely frustrating, especially when they battled back to get to overtime.

Getting wins out of those types of hard-fought games is sometimes what can get a team going. So, when the Stars force overtime or a shootout and then lose, it’s incredibly deflating. It not only affects the team morale, but it also affects the standings more than one would think.

Nashville Predators Pekka Rinne Dallas Stars Jason Spezza
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne and former Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

This season, out of six games that have gone to a shootout and five that have gone to overtime, the Stars have only won one of each. That means they left nine points on the table in those games. This isn’t ideal when they are just six points out of a playoff spot.

When you’re battling it out in the standings trying to secure a playoff berth, every point is that much more important. Even that one point, though it might not seem like a lot, adds up very quickly. In just the past 10 games, four of the team’s seven losses were in overtime or a shootout. One of those shootout losses was against the Nashville Predators, who currently hold the fourth-place spot. So, while that one extra point might not seem like much, it can really affect the Stars’ chances at a playoff spot.

Their Goaltenders Need More Support

The Stars haven’t played well enough in overtime or shootouts to have a chance at winning those games. They’ve given up too many quality scoring opportunities to their opponents, and it forces their goaltenders to make more saves than they should have to. This is extremely problematic for the Stars, especially when Jake Oettinger is in net. Not because he’s a bad goalie, but because he’s still a rookie.

Jake Oettinger Dallas Stars
Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

He doesn’t have a ton of experience and is still learning the ins and outs of the game. When he’s in net, he needs all the support he can get from his team. It puts him in a tough spot when he doesn’t get that support because in overtime, goalies can’t afford to make any mistakes. So, by the Stars giving up so many chances during overtime, it makes both Anton Khudobin and Oettinger’s lives way more difficult than necessary.

Inability to Close Out Games

The Stars’ inability to close out games has led to them having to play extra hockey to decide the outcomes of games, which I’ve already established hasn’t exactly gone well for them. The team has played numerous games where they perform extremely well during the first two periods, and then have a major collapse in the third. If they don’t lose those games in regulation, they — more often than not — lose in overtime or shootout. If the team was able to close out games and hold onto more leads, they could avoid this problem. However, they’ve been unable to do so recently.

Not Quite a Lost Cause

The Stars are a good team that has the ability to secure a playoff spot this season. They have some things to work on in a few parts of their game, one being overtime and shootout, but they have the resources to do so. Once they do, things will start to fall into place for the team, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see their season trend in the right direction.

Sign up for our free ‘Stars Substack Newsletter‘ for all the latest.