Stars’ News & Rumors: Harley, Scoring Struggles, & The Big Line

In this edition of Stars News & Rumors, Thomas Harley was called up ahead of the road trip through Canada, the Dallas Stars remain confident despite their scoring struggles, and Rick Bowness has put the big line back together. 

Harley Called Up 

Dallas called up top prospect Thomas Harley from the American Hockey League (AHL) on Monday, ahead of their three-game road trip through Canada. Harley has played in one NHL game during the round-robin of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was drafted in the first round in 2019 and has been the top prospect in the system with loads of potential. Now, he has earned the trust of his coaches and will get his chance to play at some point on this trip. 

“He’s been playing very well down there. He’s going to come up, and at some point, he’ll play.”

Stars head coach Rick Bowness

Harley has only one point in six games in the American Hockey League but his defensive game has drastically improved. 

“For me, it’s defensive consistency. I think that’s something I’ve really improved on in the ‘A’.’ These past six games, I’ve been really hard on pucks, ending plays on the wall, and gapping up really well, so I think that’s a big part of it.”

Stars defenseman Thomas Harley 
Thomas Harley Stars Draft-Stars' News & Rumors: Harley, Scoring Struggles, & The Big Line
Thomas Harley, Dallas Stars, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With the improvements to his defensive game, Bowness believes that Harley will bring an offensive boost to his team that ranks 31st in goals for this season. If he can compete in the NHL, the Stars will have a highly-skilled offensive defenseman on all three pairings, with Harley, John Klingberg, and Miro Heiskanen.

“He gives us another offensive defenseman. It’s clear we’re struggling to put the puck in the net, and he gives us an element that’ll help us.”

Stars head coach Rick Bowness

Stars Confident Despite Goal Scoring Issues

The Stars have scored 14 goals in eight games this season and are averaging 1.75 goals per game. They have struggled to create offense at full strength; however, despite the negatives, the players and coaches remain confident they are close to breaking through. 

“We want to build on tonight (Wednesday against Vegas), 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

Dallas has created plenty of scoring chances but has failed to convert, still looking to score three goals in regulation for the first time all season. In two straight games last week, they heavily outshot their opponents but were beaten by a hot goaltender. While a goalie can steal a game, it’s happened to the Stars far too often in recent seasons. Now, it’s time to find a solution from within. 

“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 

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Stars Big Line Reunited

The dynamic trio of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov has lit up the scoreboard as recently as the 2020 Playoffs and are lethal when they are on their game. Unfortunately, they have struggled together early in this season. They have only played together for brief stretches, but they have not created enough offense and had trouble defensively. However, Bowness continues to show his confidence in his top players and believes they will find their game soon.

“They read off each other, there’s chemistry when they’re on. They’ve had some games this year where they’ve been awful together, and I know that, but you still go back to that there’s some history there, there’s some chemistry there. They’ve made some plays over the years that they just read off each other, know where the other guy is. We’ve got to get that back.”

– Stars head coach Rick Bowness 
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A dynamic shift from the Stars’ big line in the 2019 Playoffs

On Friday against the Ottawa Senators, the trio was reunited and was Dallas’ best line. While they did not score, they created loads of scoring chances and were essentially on the ice every second shift. During practice on Monday, Bowness kept the big line together. Seguin skated at center for most of practice, but he is likely to alternate positions with Benn as both players have experience at the position.

“I think, honestly, it’ll be a bit different now. Rads has been going, I feel like I’ve been going, too. Jamie’s one shot away from breaking out. A lot more promising feeling right now than maybe the first few games. We were just in our own zone too much when we were first playing together this year.”

– Stars forward Tyler Seguin

Benn has shown that he is more dangerous and active when playing in the middle, so Bowness will try to find the right magic with this line and his entire lineup ahead of their three-game road trip, starting Tuesday in Winnipeg against the Jets before visits to the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks to finish out the week. The Stars have a 3-4-1 record, so this trip is important for the outlook of the season. 

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