Hey, this isn’t the team that was advertised all offseason! I thought the Dallas Stars added Nashville’s top-scoring threat Matt Duchene and Jason Robertson was going to build off of his 109-point campaign from last year.
Well, both of these can be true without the Stars getting off to a blistering start to pace the season’s scoring totals and unfortunately, it is. The Stars have left a little meat on the bone in all of their contests this year, outside of maybe the SO loss to Vegas, and it finally burnt them against Toronto.
Pete DeBoer encapsulated everyone’s frustrations in the postgame conference last night when he said “You can’t play a 40-minute game in this league,” and he’s absolutely right. The Stars have had a propensity to wade into the waters of each game played so far this year and turn it on during the first intermission, to the tune of being outscored 2-5.
Shrinking the game to 40 minutes would be much easier if you weren’t operating from a deficit to start this hypothetical game. Last night was emblematic of what happens when you don’t show up ready to play. It may work out against the Flyers and the Ducks, but not against teams that will undoubtedly be making playoff pushes this year.
Dallas Stars Regulation Loss: An Opportunity for Swift Correction
A team that will not be making the playoffs this year is the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the fixture with them on Monday will be an opportunity to get right before an inconvenient 6 of 7 road stretch (3 road, 1 home, 3 road). Colombus is overperforming with their 3-2-2 start, after the insanity of Mike Babcock’s brief tenure, and are outscoring opponents 7-4 in 1st periods through 7 games.
The team will be coming off of a stint where at least 3 of 4 went to OT and their trip to Dallas is sandwiched between trips to New York and Tampa. Situationally, the table is set for the Stars to come out swinging after DeBoer’s criticisms resonate for 3 days. The barometer for how engaged this team is will show in that 1P column of the box score Monday night.
The frustrating part of this early mire is that we know the team is better than this, and that might be their issue too. We saw what they did in crunch time last year, being arguably the 2nd best team to make the Conference Final stages of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stars were 7th in the league in total goals and Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen set Dallas records for point-scoring in the regular season, so it’s reasonable to expect things to click immediately.
However, the Stars had the 3rd longest season of any team last year and needed an OTL against Toronto (déjà vu) to inspire a .500 or better road trip result in the next 5 trips. From this point, the Stars never even slumped down to Wild Card status in the standings.
Dallas Stars Regulation Loss: Better Managing of Expectations
With the most recent games being played for a conference title, it may be hard to find inspiration to set the seasonal tone for the first handful of matches. This was personified by the quality scoring chances the Stars had, far outnumbering Toronto’s. They’ve shown that they’re a good team and able to create chances, to be great they’ll need to cash in on them.
The level of mental engagement removes the x of xG and we see the scoring tallies score. Losing on home ice to the Maple Leafs will put the season into better perspective and the Stars will come out firing against the Blue Jackets on Monday, reinvigorating the point pacing we expected the power players to achieve.