Everywhere I go, friends who are sports fans seem to have the same question – What’s wrong with the Stars this season?
It’s hard to put one’s finger on what is exactly going wrong with the Stars; it’s simply not just one thing. Well, then again maybe it is one thing, maybe just one word.
When I watch this year’s Stars, I see a group that hasn’t meshed; they look like they have regressed from the gritty, gutty playoff team of last spring. It reminds me of 2001, when the team had just added three new faces in Pierre Turgeon, Donald Audette and Jyrki Lumme. Something just didn’t fit, and Audette was quickly jettisoned off to Montreal while Lumme was traded to Toronto.
There’s something about the Ales Hemsky addition that hasn’t worked this season, scoring a mere two goals and eight points. I’m not saying he needs to be traded like Audette and Lumme, but he hasn’t done himself (or his team) any favors lately. Mix in a power play goal every now and then, please. Jason Spezza has provided the numbers, but he needs to step up at clutch moments a bit more and start that -9 plus/minus rating going the other way.
And the defense corps as a whole has been, in a word, disappointing. Jordie Benn needs to look more like last season’s version instead of this “el stunko” version. Goaltending? Don’t get me started. The Stars have given up 103 goals this season. Only Edmonton has given up more.
Despite all of that, this team has talent. The question is, can they put it together?
Lately, the Stars have gone back to the basics, working on defensive fundamentals and team play that was this team’s identity last season. It seemed to work the other night vs. New Jersey. Can it continue as the team heads out to Western Canada for a three-game trip beginning tonight at Vancouver?
The players are preaching to keep things simple, play smart, and literally take it one game at a time. That’s the best way to approach it because this team needs to string some wins together and go on a run. And the only way to do that is to worry about the next game and let things take care of itself.
When it comes to the standings, the biggest problem for the Stars involves math. They’re on the wrong side of it when it comes to making the playoffs. Even with 53 games still in front of them, Dallas has an uphill climb.
The top three teams in the division automatically make the playoffs. Nashville currently sits in the third position in the Central Division with 44 points, 17 in front of the Stars. That means if the Predators go just .500 the rest of the way they would end the season with 93 points. Dallas would have to earn 66 of the remaining 106 possible points (the equivalent of 33-20-0) just to pull even with Nashville.
A wild card spot in the top-eight? The Stars will be battling with Winnipeg, Colorado, Minnesota, Los Angeles and Calgary for two spots. Four of those teams currently have a better record than Dallas while Colorado is tied with the Stars at 27 points.
Better get moving and earn some points, eh?
Easier said than done in this league. There is no question that the Stars have the type of team and talent to turn things around and start winning. But is it too late?
There’s an old saying – you can’t make the playoffs in the first two months of the season but you can sure get eliminated. Let’s hope, for the Stars’ sake, that October and November didn’t kill this team for the spring of 2015.