It has been a bumpy road for the Dallas Stars over the first week of the regular season. They finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2-0 record, finally returning home on Friday night. Among the top storylines so far is the lack of production from their elite players. While it is still early, Dallas needs their best players to be their best players.
Stars Top Players Quiet So Far
Through the season’s first four games, the Stars offense has been limited to just seven goals. On top of that, most of their offense has come from their depth players. Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov have zero points and a combined minus-4 rating, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov both have one point with a combined minus-5 rating, and Joe Pavelski has just one goal. In total, the top players for Dallas have accumulated only three points while sitting at a minus-8 overall.
“I haven’t seen enough (from the top players). We need them to produce offense. Our top guys haven’t found their game on a consistent basis. There were some good shifts, but there were too many shifts where they’re not involved in the game enough, they’re not making a difference in the outcome of the game. There are guys who haven’t found their `A’ game yet, and that applies to that group, and we need them to quickly find it.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
Yes, it has only been four games, but the Stars rely heavily on these players for offensive production this season. In the offseason, general manager Jim Nill opted not to add any offensive players to the roster, predicting that a fully healthy lineup would be more than enough.
“It’s frustrating. I don’t think it’s too early to say your best players have got to be your best players. Pavs (Pavelski) got one tonight, but it’s on us. That was our message going into the game, and I thought we did a lot better job competing. But we get paid to produce, and we haven’t found that yet.”– Stars forward Tyler Seguin
Bowness continues to shuffle his lines in an effort to spark the offense. So far, that strategy has worked with depth players Michael Raffl, Radek Faksa, and Luke Glendening, but the top of the lineup continues to struggle to make a difference on a nightly basis. Stars captain Jamie Benn believes they will find their offense and perhaps need to play a simpler game to do so. Benn led by example as he usually does, fighting Ottawa Senators defenseman Josh Brown just two minutes into the game on Sunday.
“I think we started playing with a little jam. When you play with a little jam, you get into a little more, and that’s what we have to do, play with emotion and get on the attack a little more.”– Stars captain Jamie Benn said following the loss in Ottawa Sunday
Unfortunately for Benn and the Stars, they remained stuck offensively following the fight, which continued into their next game in Pittsburgh.
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Radulov, Hintz, Seguin Still Recovering From Injuries
One important factor to remember is that Seguin, Radulov, and Hintz are all coming off surgeries from last season. Seguin on his hip and knee, Hintz on his hip and groin, and Radulov underwent core surgery. While each player suited up in the preseason at least once, the regular season is an entirely different animal.
“It’s going to take some time, no question. Seggy (Tyler Seguin) has missed a lot of time, Rads (Alexander Radulov) have missed a lot of time, we’re just going to have to be patient with them.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
All three players say they are feeling 100% but predicted they would likely need a bit of time to adjust to the speed of the game, even if they hoped they wouldn’t. For Seguin and Radulov, they have played in only 14 total games since losing Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. On top of that, the Stars began the season playing four road games, including two home openers for their opponents.
“I thought there might be an adjustment period. I didn’t want one, but it seems in the first few games there has been. The game has kind of picked up, and it’s been all road games. I think everyone might be thinking a bit too much, but I thought tonight was back to the basics. We saw that in the second and third, and that’s something to build off.”– Stars forward Tyler Seguin
For Hintz and Pavelski, the injury to Jason Robertson has hurt their impact on the ice. Serving as the top line a year ago, the trio has yet to play together as Robertson continues to rehab a lower-body injury. While Dallas hopes he will return soon, it is vital for their success that both players find their game in the meantime.
“We’ve got some guys trying to find their game, we’ve got guys frustrated with their game. We’re just going to have to play our way through it.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
The Stars hope to find their game when they play their home opener Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings. This will mark the first time in over 590 days that Dallas will play in front of a full capacity crowd at American Airlines Center. Perhaps the roar of their home crowd will be enough to inject life into the Stars’ top players.
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!