Last night, the Dallas Stars faced off against their former coach, Ken Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock’s first game against Dallas after his second coaching stint with the team last season.
The Dallas Stars may have a new head coach, but how does their start this season under Jim Montgomery compare so far to last year under Hitchcock?
Well, they have a worse record so far, going 12-10-3 after 25 games as opposed to 14-10-1 in 2017-18, so that’s bad news.
However, that’s not really the whole picture. Last season, the Stars had their injuries, but nothing like this. They went 14-10-1 with a mostly healthy roster at that point, so 12-10-3 while missing their best defenseman and starting goaltender along with a laundry list of other players is not bad in comparison.
More from Analysis
- Dallas Stars Traverse City Tournament: Who had great performances?
- Taking a look at the teams the Dallas Stars will be playing in the preseason
- Should the Dallas Stars revisit signing Patrick Kane this season?
- Realistic regular season stats for Dallas Stars Roope Hintz
- Realistic regular season stats for Dallas Stars Joe Pavelski
They could also very easily be sitting at 14-9-2 right now just looking at the last two games. They had a late lead on the Avs, but lost it, and then dropped last night’s game against the Oilers in overtime. A few different bounces, and they’d be sitting at a better record anyways.
Their record only tells part of the story, so how do the numbers compare outside of that?
Last year, they were at a +2 goal differential, but this season, it’s at +1. Neither are particularly impressive numbers, but at least they’re positive.
Last season’s PDO (a stat that basically tracks luck where 100 is average, for those who don’t follow analytics) was 100.3, but this season is 99.7. Either way, it’s 0.3 away from 100 and pretty similar, though last year, the team was a bit luckier.
The Stars were at about 22% on the power play last season, but this year they’re a little above 17%. That’s one place the Stars are really struggling right now, especially with Klingberg gone. At least this season, they haven’t allowed a shorthanded goal, which had already happened three times by this point last year.
One positive this season is the lower penalty minutes, 199 as opposed to 271. Part of this is due to Antoine Roussel leaving and no one really stepping into his role yet, but it’s also thanks to fewer minor penalties from Alexander Radulov. He spent quite a few games injured and missing from the line-up, but Radulov led the team in minor penalties last season and that isn’t the case this time around.
For the curious, Roman Polak leads the team this season with 10 minor penalties and 20 PIM. Jamie Benn has 24 PIM, which is the highest the team, but he has two fights on his card this year and only 7 minor penalties. Roussel has 65 penalty minutes with Vancouver so far.
In a lot of ways both starts were similar, but that’s good news for the Stars. With these injuries, having the same sort of start is no easy feat.
It’s also good news, because the Stars were very close to making the playoffs last season. They dropped eight straight games near the end of the season and still only missed by 3 points in the standings. If the Stars can just not do that this year and keep up at this pace until the defense starts to come back from injuries, they’re in a good position to make the playoffs.
Overall, the start may be similar on paper, but the Stars are looking better under Montgomery this season and fans should be more optimistic this year despite some rough patches. It’s too early to determine if Montgomery is better for this team, but it sure feels like it in a lot of ways, even if there’s still plenty of work to be done.