With the month of October now in the rearview mirror, it’s time for November to get into full swing. Here’s what the Dallas Stars have to look forward to in the month ahead.
Welcome to November, Dallas Stars fans. As the first month of the season disappears and month two dawns on the horizon, it’s a good time for early reflection. After all, it was a pretty intriguing month.
Through the first 28 days of action, the Stars are 6-5-0 with 12 points. That’s good enough for sixth place in the Central division and 10th place in the Western Conference. After winning three of their first four games, they own a 3-4-0 mark over the past three weeks.
It’s a uniquely similar spot to where they were last season. After the first month of the 2017-18 year, Dallas sat at a record of 7-5-0.
In both occasions, the Stars spent the first month trying to adapt and assimilate to a new coaching staff. Along with that transition came new schemes, new game plans, and new ideals. This time around, it’s Jim Montgomery in his first year as an NHL coach.
The transition from Ken Hitchcock’s structured, defensive style to Montgomery’s aggressive, relentless style has come with a fair share of growing pains. As a result, the Stars spent the first month shaking out some of their early season jitters. They aren’t in the worst position by any means, but there is plenty of room to improve.
An average start can most certainly be overcome, but it must happen sooner rather than later. That’s where the month of November comes into play. The Dallas Stars have shaken off their early rust and now have a chance to capitalize as the bulk of the season gets underway.
That being said, it is necessary that the Stars take November by the reins. They start it off tonight in the hockey hotbed of Canada as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. It will also be the first of 15 total contests for the Stars in November. Here is a complete list of the Stars’ opponents in the month ahead:
Toronto Maple Leafs (1 game: away), Washington Capitals (1 game: away), Boston Bruins (2 games: 1 home, 1 away), Columbus Blue Jackets (2 games: 1 home, 1 away), San Jose Sharks (1 game: home), Nashville Predators (1 game: home), New York Islanders (1 game: away), New York Rangers (1 game: away), Pittsburgh Penguins (1 game: away), Ottawa Senators (1 game: home), Colorado Avalanche (1 game: away), Edmonton Oilers (1 game: away), Calgary Flames (1 game: away)
Let’s break that down for a minute.
The Dallas Stars will play ten games on the road and five games at home during the month of November. With the way the schedule is broken down, that’s 15 games in 28 days. That includes two different three-game road trips and the final four games of the six-game road trip they are currently navigating. Their longest homestand is four games.
That might end up being the biggest story of November. In a “prove it” month for the Dallas Stars, it will be up to them to continue improving on their iffy road play. The team is 1-3-0 on the road so far this year. They will be away from the American Airlines Center quite often over the next 30 days and will need to find a way to reel in wins, regardless of where they are playing.
Just like in October, the month of November isn’t division-heavy for the Stars. Only two of their games are against Central opponents, being Nashville and Colorado. But considering those are two of the top three teams in the division, both will pose a solid challenge for Dallas. The Stars are 1-1-0 in division play so far this year and will have to continue building a strong mark against Central teams if they want to stay in the playoff hunt.
Of their 13 opponents in the month ahead, 10 of them hail from the Eastern Conference. That gives them a good chance to get ahead in their Western Conference race, but could also pit them further behind. The non-conference games can matter significantly in the long run.
In November, the Stars will face 11 opponents with a record of .500 or better. The Rangers and Senators are the only teams sitting below the .500 mark at the moment, but both offer different challenges. Don’t forget that the Stars already dropped a 4-1 decision to Ottawa last month.
Seven of their 13 opponents currently sit in a playoff spot, though it is still early in the year and the standings are tight (only seven points separate first place from 24th in the NHL right now). In addition, the Dallas Stars are six points from first place in the Central and three points from last place. So, there’s an opportunity both to bounce ahead or fall behind.
The Stars have only been tested with one back-to-back situation this year, going 0-2-0 over the span. In the month ahead, they will have three more chances to improve on that record. The first comes with a visit to Boston and Columbus. The second involves a swing through New York with the Islanders and Rangers. And to close out the month, Dallas will square off in Western Canada with the Oilers and Flames.
The month of November is sizing up to be quite a measuring stick for the Dallas Stars. It will be up to the team to wrap up their transition period and put the October inconsistencies behind them. It’s a new month and a new chance to build some confidence as they get into the thick of their schedule.
Overall, it was a pretty successful month of October for the Stars. With a new era of Dallas hockey being ushered in, being above .500 is a positive. There is still work to do, but the Stars seem to be on the right track. Let’s see if they can get off on the right foot in November tonight against the Maple Leafs.