Over a month into the 2022-23 National Hockey League season, the Dallas Stars are no strangers to the road. Through 16 games, the Stars have only played six contests at home in the American Airlines Center. When their current road stint comes to a close Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, Dallas will have played 11 of their first 17 games on the road, desperate for a prolonged period in front of their home fans.
Luckily, Dallas has faired quite well in opposing barns, going 5-3-2 in road games. Although they suffered a 5-4 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night, the Stars still look like a playoff team almost a quarter through the season, with a legitimate chance of the top spot in the Central Division.
Don’t look now, but Jason Robertson is in the process of making his new four-year, $31 million contract look like a bargain. Just 16 games into a season following up a 79-point campaign, the 23-year-old winger is on pace to shatter that mark in 2022-23, with already 25 points to his name. After his two-point effort against Tampa Bay, Robertson finds himself amid a nine-game point streak, matching the longest of his young career. During that streak, he has registered 18 points, averaging two points a contest during that stretch. If Dallas’s 2019 second-round pick can record at least one point on Thursday against Florida, he will become the first Stars’ player to record a double-digit point streak since Patrick Sharp in 2015-16. Sharp’s point streak lasted 12 games. He finished the season with 43 points in 68 games. Of course, Robertson may surpass that total before the season’s mid-point.
Remarkably, Robertson is not the only Stars’ player sporting a nine-game point streak. Registering an assist on the Mason Marchment goal Tuesday, Roope Hintz extended his consecutive game point streak to just under 10. Not only can he join Robertson as the first player to record a double-digit point streak since Sharp, but the duo also became the first pair of Stars’ teammates to simultaneously post nine-game point streaks since Mike Ribeiro and Louis Eriksson in 2010-11.
Set to become a restricted free agent this summer, Hintz continues to demonstrate why he will earn a significant salary increase on his next contract. Recording six goals and 20 points through 16 games, Hintz leaves no doubt that he is a legitimate number-one center and an essential piece of Dallas’s “new core.”
Climbing up the Scoring Ladder
While Robertson and Hintz represent the Stars’ future on the top line, 38-year-old Joe Pavelski continues to prove that age is just a number as their more-than-capable linemate. Already up to nine goals on the season, the Plover, Wisconsin native scored his 430th NHL goal Tuesday, surpassing Bill Guerin for eighth place among United States-born players.
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With 741 career goals, Brett Hull tops the list of future Hall of Famers and sets an impossible task for Pavelski to reach. Even though he appears ageless, over 300 goals for the rest of a 38-year-old’s playing career is as nearly impossible as it gets. However, there is still room for Pavelski to climb. Ahead of him is Patrick Kane, the only active player on the list, with 432 goals. Although Kane’s number will continue to rise, Pat Lafontaine’s 468-goal mark is not totally out of reach. If Pavelski can reach the 30-goal mark, or at least come close, this season, it becomes a realistic number to pass next year.
Gurianov Making Progress
After missing two games with an upper-body injury, Denis Gurianov made strides in his recovery, practicing with the team Tuesday in Tampa Bay. Not quite game-ready, he did not play in the game against the Lightning. However, one can assume that he is close to a return, potentially even being available for Thursday in Florida.
Suppose Gurianov is ready to return by Thursday or Saturday against the New York Islanders. In that case, it will be interesting to see if head coach Peter Deboer decides to place him back in the lineup. In Gurianov’s absence, 22-year-old Stars’ prospect Matej Blumel has received playing time on the second line after getting the call-up from the American Hockey League. In his short three-game stint, Blumel is averaging 12:09 of ice time and has scored one goal. Although Blumel has not done much to secure a lineup spot, neither has Gurianov, who has failed to produce consistently for multiple seasons. The second-line right-wing position is the one spot on the roster that still needs improvement without clear answers. If Deboer feels Blumel may have more to contribute, given the proper time to get comfortable with the NHL game, he may decide that the best place for a healthy Gurianov to reside is in the press box.
The Stars finish their current three-game road trip Thursday against the Florida Panthers and then head back to Dallas for a much-needed prolonged home stretch of games. Starting Saturday, Dallas hosts the Islanders, the Colorado Avalanche, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Winnipeg Jets. Following next Friday’s contest against Winnipeg is the opening of a back-to-back where Dallas will travel to take on the Avalanche on Saturday. Finally getting some games on home ice, the Stars will face a lot of division foes next week, looking to cement themselves as a superior club in the Central Division.
John Gove is an experienced hockey writer who admires the game at all levels. Currently, John is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers.