It seems like just yesterday I was writing about the Dallas Stars’ recent success that saw them go on a 7-1 run. After last night’s 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Stars are now 14-1-1 in their last 16 games and winners of a franchise record-tying seven straight. No team has gained more points than the Stars in this time frame and it has been the reason they’ve gone from last in the division to one point off the Central Division lead.
There’s a lot to credit the success to. The goalies look better than ever, depth scoring is rampant and the big boys have found their offense. The team as a whole has found their scoring touch which is the true factor to this win streak. After turning around the 1-7-1 start, Stars head coach Jim Montgomery admitted that he was too defensive-minded and they haven’t looked back since. (from ‘After topsy-turvy first month, Jim Montgomery shares how the Stars rediscovered their identity,’ Dallas Morning News, 11/09/2019)
The Quick Turnaround
All hope seemed lost when the Stars started off with losing eight of their first nine games. Ever since then, the Stars have really clicked and are now firing on all cylinders. Below is a league-wide comparison showing just how dominant and revitalized they are between their first 10 and their last 10 games.
|Goals||Goals Against||Shots||High-Danger Chances||SV%|
Across the board, the Stars have found what makes them so successful. Their goalies are back to playing great hockey and the team is generating offense at a pace they haven’t seen since they finished No. 1 in the Western Conference back in the 2015-16 regular-season. The turnaround happened much more quickly than I or anybody really expected. As aforementioned, a lot of this success comes from the coaches embracing a much faster and offensive styled game plan.
The Beasts Have Awoken
The Stars are first in the NHL in goals over their last 10 games. This is not a sentence you thought you’d read if you watched the start of their season. Through their first 10 games, they were 29th in goals scored. The power play was an abysmal 3-for-33 and the top guys like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn weren’t producing.
All of that is now in the past. The big boys getting paid to score are doing so with Seguin leading the way. He has 12 total points in his last 10 and has looked dominant doing so with a 60% expected goal share while on the ice. Benn and Alexander Radulov are also on the uptick with seven points each in their last 10. Benn especially is back to his vintage self as he showed in this shift against the Winnipeg Jets just a few nights ago.
When Benn is playing like this, nobody can stop him. With less than five minutes to go in a tied game, he lands the big hit on Scheifele, steals the puck in the offensive zone and skillfully goes backhand into the open net for the game-winning goal. An absolutely beautiful sequence that gives hope there’s more to come from the captain in the 2019-20 season.
The Two-Headed Monster in Net
One of the big worries coming into the season was if the Stars’ goalies would be able to play as well as they did last year. Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin were finalists for the Jennings Trophy and Bishop himself was a Vezina Trophy finalist. As the chart above mentions, they combined for the 20th save percentage in the league during the first 10 games of the season.
But just as the top forwards like Seguin, Radulov and Benn have improved, so have the goalies. As a tandem over their last 10 games, they hold a save percentage of .940, good for first in the league. Over their past 16 games, Bishop has an all-strengths save percentage of .941 and a goals-against average (GAA) of 1.86. Khudobin also has impressed with a .948 SV% and a 1.57 GAA.
The tide has turned for the Stars and they are starting to gain attention. At this rate, they will likely start entering the conversation as legit cup contenders. They’ve got the top-end skill, impressive depth players and a league-best goalie tandem to be wildly successful. All of these weapons make the Dallas Stars a very tough team to beat when they’re on their game and right now, they’re showing everybody that.