Dallas Stars: Overtime Mentality Needs Complete Overhaul

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 3:Goaltender Kari Lehtonen
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 3:Goaltender Kari Lehtonen /

With a streak of two games recently dropped in overtime, the Dallas Stars need a new approach when it comes to playing extra minutes.

When the NHL first introduced the overtime theee-on-three format, the Dallas Stars took to it like a fish to water. They seemed to do well dominating in extra time for a while.

At this time, the Stars also weren’t your best team when it came to holding their own in the last period. It seemed as though if they made themselves desperate enough in the last frame, they could work themselves up to a truly epic performance when it came to free hockey time.

But now, the Dallas Stars are struggling to hold leads late in the game and are failing to make up for it in overtime. Recently, they let two games get away from them at crucial turning points.

The loss to the Flyers was owing to poorly timed, emotionally-charged penalties that put the Stars in a hole too deep to climb out of. Last night against the Capitals, the Stars once again blew a lead against a team that would not let them slide by with an easy win.

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While the Stars have proven that they are giving attention to and improving in troubled areas like special teams, they still cannot seem to get away from the curse of making mistakes at the most costly of times.

The fact that the Stars have recognized and patched up some leaky areas in their play recently signals that they really only need to practice one thing in order to bounce back from their recent string of disappointing games, and it’s something we’ve been on our soapboxes about since the end of last season:

Mental toughness. The Dallas Stars have developed some in the course of the ups and downs they’ve experienced so far, but stumbling upon this mentality here and there has never been their kryptonite. Adopting, nurturing, and never ever letting go of it, on the other hand, has proven to be much harder.

And disappointment after disappointment has taken its obvious toll on coach and players. Hitchcock delivered an uncharacteristically short press conference following the Caps game, and players have been accepting blame and responsibility for those costly mistakes.

Next: Dallas Stars: Untimely Mistakes Holding Them Back From Greatness

The only thing for the Stars to do now is think back to the end of the offseason and get back to the mentality that Ben Bishop shared when he came to Dallas and has clung to throughout his career: leave it all out on the ice.