The Dallas Stars are the hottest team in the NHL. After tying their franchise winning streak record of seven games on Monday, they have the attention of the hockey world. While experts may look to the ice to explain the Stars’ turnaround, they need to also look off the ice.
Dallas is beating teams before they even put their skates on. Head coach Jim Montgomery talked to the media about the team’s win streak Monday after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2:
“We don’t want to get too excited and pat ourselves on the back,” Montgomery said. “We got to get better, because there’s certain parts of our game that need to.”
That sounds like something New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would say, but Montgomery’s comments are a reflection of the locker room. The Stars are taking the same approach as several other winning teams have done in the past. They aren’t satisfied. “Players are pushing each other, which is nice to see,” Montgomery said.
Inside the Locker Room
After a career-high night in assists, defenseman John Klingberg said the Stars are staying hungry on the power play. He also said his team is playing with a lot of confidence right now, but believes they still have things to work on.
“I can tell it’s a different team from now and when I got injured,” Klingberg said. “We got to keep doing the right thing here and keep building.”
Klingberg is right. They are a far cry from the team that started the season 1-7-1. The Stars are taking more shots, shutting down the opposition, and are contesting every puck along the boards.
The locker room has the right attitude because successful teams know there’s still work to be done. The ultimate goal is still far off, and staying hungry is only part of the equation. The Stars are also paying attention to details. Forward Alexander Radulov, who had two goals and an assist Monday, told the media that the game against the Golden Knights was going to be decided by special teams.
“Second period, we picked up a few penalties we shouldn’t have taken but I mean the guys battled,” Radulov said. “We just gotta keep rolling, keep working. Tomorrow is another big test for us.”
Special teams have been clutch for the Stars of late. They are 15 for 15 on the penalty kill over their four game home stand. Stopping their opponents dead in their tracks is adding to the team’s confidence. Montgomery said that on the penalty kill the team was playing more cohesively:
“I think there’s a lot more emotion to our game and I think we’re playing a lot faster,” Montgomery said.
That speed can be seen on the defensive side of the ice where the Stars are winning the forecheck and are adding additional pressure to their opponents. The reason is something every athlete has been coached, hustle.
“Everybody’s working,” Radulov said. “Everybody played a good, solid game.”
When Radulov says everybody, he does mean everybody. Another element of the Stars’ mindset is teamwork, which has helped bring captain Jamie Benn back to form and is making everyone on the team look like an All-Star.
15 different Dallas Stars skaters have scored a goal since Oct. 19. And though they were hit with another early wave of injuries (including long-term ones to Roope Hintz and John Klingberg), they somehow look better with each passing game.Josh Clark | Fansided | Nov. 21, 2019.
Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, things were tied and the game was getting late, Benn delivered a monumental piece of leadership. Benn gave a massive hit and then went end-to-end chasing a puck that would be the game-winning goal.
“He was all over the puck,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said about his captain Thursday. “He was refusing to let us lose.”
The road ahead is going to be tough. The Stars face the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets (twice), and the New York Islanders. They will need to continue to energize this mindset in order to continue their unbelievable winning ways.
I’m an Arkansas native and hardcore Stars fan. I’m a former TV/ Digital producer who followed the Kansas City Mavericks (Calgary Flames ECHL) and Arkansas Razorbacks Hockey.