Josh Lyle wrote an interesting article on www.defendingbigd.com entitled “Dallas Stars Hanging In The Playoff Race Despite Injury Woes”. He points out the Dallas Stars, despite injuries, are in the playoff hunt, at least for a Wild Card spot. He makes no mention of the Stars’ horrendous power play performance. They have converted on 11.6% of their power play opportunities ranking 29 out of 30 teams. I wondered what if they were closer to the middle of the pack, how would their position change in the playoff race.
The Stars have had plenty of power play opportunities. In the 35 games so far, they have had 129 opportunities converting on 15. They have had 10 games go beyond regulation time resulting in more losses than wins (6 to 4). They have won 1 game in overtime and lost 2 in overtime. They have won 3 games in shootouts and lost 4. In all of these games, making one additional power play goal would have prevented overtime or a shootout. This is one indication how important a more successful power play would be.
www.nhl.com team power play statistics show that the median power play conversion percentage is 19.6% with the highest percentage being 28.2% (Washington Capitals) and the lowest being 11.2% (Florida Panthers). Looking at the Stars performance closer, the Stars would have won three additional games if they had at least converted on 1 of 4 opportunities in those games. Those games would be WPG on 10/26, OTT on 11/3 and EDM on 12/1. Had they done that, power play percentage would still have been only 14.0%. In addition, they would be occupying solely the second Wild Card position behind Vancouver.
Recognizing what-if is a fool’s game, if the Stars had converted on all but 2 of the power plays in 4 other games, they would have won 4 more games and have had a 19.4% conversion rate just under the median. The 4 games in specific would be SJS on 10/17, BOS on 11/5, CHI on 11/9 and NYR on 11/21. These 8 points added to the previously mentioned 6 points would have the Stars in the middle of the Central division top three qualifiers with 56 points. Of course, the games would have played out differently had the Stars converted as suggested but it does emphasize the importance of improving their power play performance. If they don’t, it will be their Achilles heel and be the most identifiable factor for not making the playoffs at the end of the season.
The good news is that the Stars have players that have had success on the power play with other teams. Whitney, Seguin and Gonchar are unquestionably capable of making a difference on the power play. They also have the leadership skills to help the younger players make a difference on the power play. So what I want for Christmas is more power play goals by the Dallas Stars.