The Dallas Stars lack identity. Daryl “Razor” Reaugh said it best after the 5-3 loss to the last place Montreal Canadiens, (taken from broadcast)
"“I don’t know that they have an overall… arching DNA to them that you really believe in. There are spurts and fits of greatness, but there are also times within games or in stretches of games where you wonder, Where’s this thing heading?”"
What is the DNA of the Dallas Stars? Once the puck drops, what’s their plan? Do they score and can they defend? Let’s examine more of this through more of Razor’s wisdom.
“They squandered an awful lot of scoring opportunities.” While strong, Razor’s words do not show just how bad the Stars were at burying the puck on January 18. According to Dallas Stars reporter Matthew DeFranks, the 110 shot attempts from Dallas were the most by any team since 2009.
The team had 51 shots on goal while Montreal only had 22. Finishing has been an issue going back even through last season and there is only so much blame that can lay on puck luck. There is too much talent on this team for them to not be scoring reliably.
Since the loss to the Canadiens, they have scored five goals against the Buffalo Sabres and then five goals against the Detroit Red Wings. Granted, these aren’t the best teams in the league and performances like these are rare from the Stars.
They finally established a solid second line with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Denis Gurianov. The top line centered by Roope Hintz has found success on the road in these two games. They must build on this momentum and continue finding ways to win rather than ways to lose.
While the Stars have been struggling to find ways to score, the defensive identity has been strong for several seasons now. The pesky Stars were hard to play against and never gave up many goals. So why doesn’t it feel like that right now? Under the Jim Montgomery and Rick Bowness era, the goals against averages (GAA) are as seen in the list below:
Season GAA Rank
2018-2019 2.23 2nd lowest
2019-2020 2.39 2nd lowest
2020-2021 2.48 7th lowest
2021-2022 2.89 19th lowest
(statistics taken from foxsports.com)
Goals against average numbers are a reflection on goaltending but also defense. The simple fact is that the Stars are letting too many goals in, and don’t have one of the top tandems in the league anymore.
According to hockey-reference.com, league average save percentage for this season is currently .910. Braden Holtby is the only Dallas goaltender above that at .913. The Stars cannot rely on Vezina caliber goaltending anymore which makes the role of defense even more crucial.
Not only is Dallas letting in too many goals, but they’re ones that should never have come near the net. After that Montreal loss Razor said, “It was what they gave up; the type of goals that they were giving up. To give up a 3 on 0 the way they did… it’s just inexcusable.” Let that sink in.
The Dallas Stars gave up a 3 on 0 against the current worst team in the league and it wasn’t an isolated incident. This team has consistently turned over the puck, given up multiple odd man rushes in numerous games, and had sloppy defensive coverage that isn’t up to their standard.
“You shouldn’t give up five the way they gave up the five in the game here tonight. And ultimately that’s what did them in.” Razor’s right. Even with their scoring woes, the defense needed to be better against Montreal and needs to consistently be better for the rest of the season.
Ryan Suter being a new part of the defensive core does shake things up, as chemistry between players has to form. But there is too much talent on the Stars roster for them to be giving up chances the way they have been. This extends to the forwards as well.
The defensive identity that the Stars were known for came from strong team defense, even though it was at the expense of scoring. If they still cannot score and now cannot defend, then what is this team?
The Dallas Stars have heart. They are resilient. They have fought through so many obstacles over the past two years. But structurally this team needs to play to its strengths and find an identity fast, or playoffs hopes are sliding away. Tyler Seguin said it best after the Montreal loss. “There’s no excuses… We’re getting down to, not do or die, but the urgency has to be very high.”