The Dallas Stars have dealt with an overwhelming number of injuries in the early part of their 2018-19 campaign. But, with the help of their young defensemen, they are finding a way to persevere.
It’s fun to watch an offensive shootout, regardless of the sport. The scoring is high, making every moment in the game pivotal to the outcome.
But, as those of us in Dallas recently learned from a certain Thursdsay night NFL game, the defense is what closes out games, even against seemingly unstoppable offenses. The Dallas Stars have made a transition from a high scoring team to a stone wall defense over the past year. And while that has comes with pros and cons, the benefits are certainly out weighing the negatives in most ways.
As of right now, the Dallas Stars are on pace to match the wonderful defensive performance of last season. And, as much as I hate to blame the injury bug for holding them back, I cannot see a more obvious time to call it than now.
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Of the five players currently sidelined, four are defensemen. Having lost four of the last six games without starting goaltender Ben Bishop, the following stat may surprise you.
In those six games, the penalty kill has put up an above season average (82.3) of 84.2 percent. And, by the way, the Stars current defense boasts an average age of 25.6 years old, which is below the league average age of a full team roster 27.6.
The defense is also holding onto its shots against average that is only .2 percent higher than before Bishop’s injury. That average, 31, was derived from the previous six games. It does not go back to when the last defender was injured, John Klingberg.
Jim Montgomery is doing what he does best with young players. The growth is coming quickly for these young defenders. If some of the young guys remain in the lineup, I would not be surprised to see the opponent’s numbers drop as the season progresses.
Starting Saturday with the return of Ben Bishop, the defense will continue its gradual move back to regularity. When the defensemen begin returning, my best guess is that the offense and power play will receive a significant boost, specifically from Klingberg’s presence.
But as of right now, the Dallas Stars are in a good place defensively. They sit fourth overall in the NHL in goals against average with a mark of 2.69. Considering the circumstances, that’s nothing short of impressive.
December will be a good proving ground for the defense as they play 11 of their 13 games against Western Conference opponents. We’ll see how they hold up.