Dallas Stars: Untimely Mistakes Holding Them Back From Greatness

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 19: Greg Pateryn
DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 19: Greg Pateryn /

The Dallas Stars have a lot of firepower and have proven that they are a good hockey team. But the mistakes and miscues are handcuffing them and pulling them away from “great” status.

It was kind of obvious in the game against New Jersey, pretty obvious against Philadelphia, and flat out obvious against Washington last night. The Dallas Stars have some rotten luck with committing simple mistakes.

In the recent past, the Stars have endured plenty of mistakes that keep the team from taking the next step. These mistakes are typically glaring and painfully obvious. Goaltending, a lack of veteran  leadership on defense, no offensive depth, and special teams issues all make the list.

Those are the problems that GM Jim Nill has sought out to fix over the past few summers. Whenever there is an obvious problem, Nill is typically quick to make a necessary change. He has no issues with trading players that aren’t producing, trading for new players that can fill a void, or signing free agents that could help the team.

He’s a GM that is always in “win now” mode, no matter how bleak or dark the team may look in a given season. That’s what makes the Dallas Stars strong. They are problem solvers always looking for a solution.

Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars /

Dallas Stars

But this new problem cannot be solved by Nill because it is not a problem regarding the makeup of the team. This is a problem involving effort and attention to detail, and only the players can truly solve it.

The Dallas Stars currently sit at a record of 18-14-3 on the year. That’s 39 points in 35 games. While that is not necessarily bad, it isn’t good either. You can say all you want about how the Stars are a “second half” team over the past few years and how the final 41 games will be great. But the point is, Dallas is sitting outside the playoff picture right now and has a lot of competition to work through.

Even though the Stars are sitting outside the postseason right now, to say they are a bad team would be flat out uneducated. Dallas has some kinks this season (like all NHL teams do), but look to be getting better with each passing game. They have meshed together well as a complete unit and are building on their chemistry. The offense, defense, and goaltending are showing flashes of greatness, which leaves open the opportunity for hope down the road.

But that won’t happen if the team cannot combat its biggest enemy: mistakes. In New Jersey and Philadelphia, it was penalties. Last night, it was simply a bad goal late in the third period and Jason Spezza’s inability to clear the puck out of the zone in overtime. These tiny mistakes are causing the Stars some serious grief and are holding them back from reaching the next level.

The NHL is a game of inches, and one tiny slip up can be ultimately fatal. Every team has at least one mistake per game, but whether the opponent cashes in on it or not is up in the air. The Stars’ opponents seem to always cash in on even the simplest of mistakes. And these mistakes in turn are putting Dallas in a bind.

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The Stars played one of their best games last night against a red-hot Washington Capitals team. They put everything they had into the game versus one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. For a brief moment, they even had a 3-2 lead late in the third period. But simple mistakes took over, and the Stars fell in a deflating 4-3 overtime defeat.

“A lot of good things throughout the game, but yeah, it stinks,” said Stars forward Tyler Seguin following the game. He could not have summed it up much better.

Unlike in previous years, the Dallas Stars are not experiencing many personnel problems in certain areas of their game. Instead, it’s simply little mistakes and miscues that are pinning the Stars back. They are playing excellent hockey but keep coming up shorthanded without two points.

This is a problem that can only be fixed by the players themselves. It’s all about focusing on an attention to detail and making sure that even the smallest of jobs is done correctly and efficiently.

They will need to make this fix and make it soon if they want to keep their drive to the playoffs alive. The Stars are taking on some of the NHL’s best teams (Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, and San Jose to name a few) over the next few weeks, so they will need to be focused and in the zone.

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Once the little mistakes are taken care of, this team will have the ability to thrive and truly spread their wings. But until that happens, they will be stuck trying to dig themselves out of a hole that they can easily avoid.