Stars Look For Change of Fate On Upcoming Road Trip

The road has not been kind to the 2021-22 Dallas Stars. After 17 road games, they hold a 4-12-1 record away from the American Airlines Center. Their last victory came on Nov. 27 against the Arizona Coyotes, with seven straight losses bringing us up to date. Now, as they face a four-game road trip across the east coast beginning on Thursday, Jan. 20, they will look to change their fate one game at a time. 

Stars Face Lower-Tier Teams On Road Trip

Over the next six days, the Stars will face off against four opponents that rank between 18th and 28th in the NHL as of today. First, they will play back-to-back nights against the Detroit Red Wings (18th) and Philadelphia Flyers (25th), followed by another back-to-back against the New Jersey Devils (26th) and Buffalo Sabres (28th). 

While these teams have struggled this season, a loss to the 32nd placed Montreal Canadiens at home on Tuesday (Jan. 18) proved that nothing comes easy in this league. This is even more true away from home and goes a step further when embarking on an extended road trip. Dallas will face all of those challenges this week.

“Hopefully this is just a blessing in disguise in a way that we have no choice but to get our act straight on the road coming up going on a long road trip here,” Seguin said. “There’s no excuses. We’re getting down to not do or die but the urgency has to be very high.”

Stars Struggling In All Areas Right Now

As a team, Dallas is not exactly the hottest team right now, no matter where they play. They have lost three games in a row, have seen their young superstar goalie pulled in two straight starts, have a 5-5-0 record in their last 10, and sit six points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

Related: Stars Road Record Remains Among League’s Worst

“These are growing pains,” Rick Bowness said of Jake Oettinger’s struggles lately. “He is going to win a lot of games for this franchise down the road but there are growing pains that come with that to get him there. He has the character to battle through this, learn from it, and fight back.”

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

Their biggest issue, as it has been for a few years now, is scoring goals. After putting up three goals in their last game, they have scored a total of 100 goals over 36 games. That 2.78 goals per game rank them 22nd in the NHL. 

“You can only say that so much,” defenseman Ryan Suter said when asked about “learning” from the losses. “We can work harder. When you’re not scoring goals, you dig in and get dirty and find ways to score. They don’t have to be pretty goals. You have to will the puck into the net. That’s what we need to focus on moving forward.”

Related: Stars Continue Missing Offense From Their Defense

When it comes to defense, the Stars’ usual strength, they have also struggled. They have allowed 15 goals in their last three games and currently rank 13th in the league after finishing in the top three nearly every season since their team makeover. 

What Are The Positives For Dallas?

The good news among all of these negatives? Their next four opponents have struggled even more in both areas of their game. In goal-scoring, Buffalo (26th), Philadelphia (27th), New Jersey (17th), and Detroit (24th) have had issues all season. On the flip side, they rank 27th, 24th, 26th, and 23rd in goals-against per game. To put it simply, after wasting a golden opportunity on Tuesday, the Stars must return home from this trip with a minimum of six points. 

“Today we came out hard, we took the game against them and we went after them,” Esa Lindell said after a home win against the Seattle Kraken on Jan. 12. “I think that’s been a really good thing for our team. That’s something we haven’t had on the road, and that’s something everyone’s spoken about in the locker room, and the coaches have brought it up. We should be able to do the same on the road that we’ve done at home.”

Esa Lindell Dallas Stars
Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The team has continued to preach that they are fully bought into what Rick Bowness and his staff are trying to do. Everyone in that room believes they are a great team and just need to find their stride. On the other side, when asked if he feels if his players are still buying in right now, Bowness responded quickly: 

“Yes.” 

Now comes the time to show it on the ice. When they return from the road trip next week, everyone will either be feeling much better or will be one step closer to desperation. 

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