Whether you noticed it or not, there were plenty of positives to take away from the Dallas Stars’ play in October. There were some obvious positives as well as some unexpected ones, and they helped the Stars get along in the month.
As a result, they kept themselves in the fight and made the first month entertaining to an extent. Let’s take a look at all of the team’s ups from month one.
As the Stars entered the 2018-19 regular season, one significant problem from the 2017-18 year continued to linger. That problem was depth scoring.
Editor In Leaf
After lines 2-4 were practically non-existent for half of last year, Dallas entered the offseason with a chance to add some big names and bolster their offense. Instead, they ended up settling for veteran winger Blake Comeau and winger Valeri Nichushkin, who had just returned from the KHL.
They didn’t seem to be significant additions, leaving plenty of question and doubt about the team’s offensive production.
But through the first month, it was clear that the Stars’ depth problems from last season didn’t have to do with players; instead, it simply had to do with coaching.
Under Jim Montgomery, the Dallas Stars offense is rolling, specifically in terms of depth. Jason Spezza (10 points), Devin Shore (nine points), and Jason Dickinson (five points) have all come up huge for Dallas at certain points this season. In addition, players like Radek Faksa, Tyler Pitlick, and Blake Comeau are starting to come around after a slow start.
Even the Dallas defenders are chipping in on the scoresheet on a nightly basis. The Stars are getting production from outside their top line, and it’s the reason they are winning games more often than not.
Though he was just mentioned above, something has to be said about the veteran center.
Throughout the first month (and even in the first few days of November), Jason Spezza looks like a brand new player. After eight goals, 26 points, and a -12 rating (all career-lows) in 2017-18, Spezza has completely revitalized his play.
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Through 13 games, he has three goals and ten points along with a +1 rating. He owns the highest face-off win percentage on the team. His production and playing time are both up and he’s proving to be a valuable asset in multiple situations, both on and off the ice.
Spezza is back for now, and the Dallas Stars are much better for it.
Penalty Kill Is Firing Away
When it comes to special teams, the Dallas Stars have been known for their strong and high-flying power play over the past few seasons. But through the first month, it was the penalty kill that took center stage.
The Stars boasted an 87.5 percent kill rate through the first month of the season. That’s good enough for fourth in the NHL. Only the Lightning, Coyotes, and Avalanche own better PK units.
After starting the year at a rough 70 percent success rate through four games, the Stars bounced back, killing 19 penalties in a row in the final five games of the month.
It’s been a good start to the year for the PK.
The Goalies Stepped Up
Through 11 games, the Dallas Stars used both of their goaltenders. Ben Bishop earned the nod in nine of the starts while Khudobin picked up two starts, and both goalies put on impressive shows.
Bishop went 5-4-0 in his starts, posting a .925 save percentage along with a 2.22 goals against average and one shutout in the season opener. It was one of the hottest starts of his career and gave the Stars a certain sense of newfound confidence in their starter.
Meanwhile, Khudobin went 1-1-0 with an .898 save percentage and 3.00 goals against average. But if you want to cheat a little and count the game on Nov. 1 as part of the October slate, Khudobin’s numbers jump to .923 SV% and 2.35 GAA.
Both goaltenders held the Stars in games on various occasions and were rarely to blame for a loss. This goaltending tandem could end up being one of the team’s biggest strengths this year. Stay tuned.
A New Style That Works
Over the past few seasons, the Dallas Stars have become used to the frustration of outshooting and outplaying their opponents, yet still finding ways to lose.
But as October came to a close, the Stars began playing with a new mindset. Instead of trying to overwhelm their opponents, Dallas played more systematically. They cashed in when they needed to, carefully picked apart their opposition, and shut the door when it mattered most.
All in all, the Stars turned over a new leaf and found a way to win games like they haven’t done before.
Capitalizing On Defense
The Dallas Stars defense was one of the team’s few bright spots during 2017-18. And through the first month of 2018-19, the blue line continues to impress.
The Stars currently own the fourth-best defense in the NHL. Through October, they averaged 2.72 goals against per game, one of the best averages in the league. And when considering the trials and changes they have faced, their performance becomes even more impressive. Read more about it here.