A constant topic of discussion last season with fans and those in the media who payed attention to the Stars was their special teams. The powerplay was successful by the stats we saw, finishing in the top 10 if I can remember correctly. They were able to score goals and put up good stats on the surface. But if you really watched the Stars closely then you saw an issue sometimes with when the goals were scored. Of course scoring a goal is always good, but the Stars had issues with scoring late in games and definitely when they could use a late goal to get back in a game or tie it up. The goals were scored throughout the season, but when they could use a timely goal the powerplay just could not push through when it was needed the best.
Fast forward through a summer of many being uneasy about the coaching staff because of the Stars inability to improve their PK and the constant issues on both ends of the special teams lasting through most of the season last year. Now the Stars get the new season underway in solid fashion by going 5-2 to start. If I would have been told that we would be 5-2 at this point, I would have openly been excited with that. We could have won Saturday night against the Predators, but overall 5-2 is more then acceptable to me. Stellar goalie play and great 5-on-5 play has lead the way for the Stars. But the issues that could hinder the team from taking a step forward with this season look like the same problems that they had last season.
The penalty kill was an issue throughout last season as the Stars were one of the worst in the league. I was a huge topic of discussion as the coaching staff and players could not do anything to improve the PK, and combined with inconsistent goaltending, lead to many lost points last year. This season the Stars return a roster almost the same except for the addition of Burish and Lehtonen taking the reigns over. The Stars started the year of with wins, but only having a PK % of 60% after the first five games. They have gone perfect the last two games and have looked a lot better, but this will be an area to watch as we move forward with this season. If they can even get it to a middle of the pack PK, it would be a lot better then the 29th overall PK that it is right now.
The powerplay has been shaky, at best so far this season. The Stars top two lines are scoring often and creating every night, and the third line as looked great the last two games since the return of Jamie Benn and putting Wandell on the line with Benn and Ott. But when the opponent has put men in the box and given the Dallas powerplay chances, the Stars have been not been able to make them pay. Going 2 for 25 in the first seven games is not what you would want at all. The Stars are averaging 3.1 goals per a game (g00d for 6th in the league), but the PP is at 26th in the league. So top 10 in the league for goals and goals against per game…..but in the bottom of the league for both special teams. If the Stars can fix this, there is a lot of good signs from the season so far. I expect that the PP will pick up as their is a lot of talent and they can be worlds better then 26th. But the penalty kill worries me long-term. Another season like last is unacceptable. Hope coach Crawford and the staff, along with the players, can learn and improve as the season moves along.