“But they’re 10-3-1”: A Dallas Stars statistical breakdown (Part 1 of 6)

Mar 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz (24) celebrates with teammates forward Joe Pavelski (16), defenseman Gustav Olofsson (23) and forward Jason Robertson (21) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz (24) celebrates with teammates forward Joe Pavelski (16), defenseman Gustav Olofsson (23) and forward Jason Robertson (21) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports /

Welcome to the first of a six-part series that evaluates the Dallas Stars’ periodic statistical performances. There will be six posts throughout the season (once every 13-15 games played), and each post will outline advanced statistics relative to Dallas’ on-ice performances, and evaluate team stats in search of themes, strengths, weaknesses, and more.

The first installment of this series comes following a dominant 8-3 win against the Minnesota Wild in Game 14 of the 2023-2024 regular season. The Stars are now 10-3-1 and have been great to start the year. At this time, Dallas is 1st in the Central Division, 3rd in the Western Conference, and 5th in the National Hockey League standings.

The two websites used for this analysis are NaturalStatTrick and Moneypuck.com, and all links that directly concern my analysis will be available throughout the article. A timestamp of relevant stats has been recorded to compare in the future to the next “sixth” of the season, and so on.

Dallas Stars Statistical Breakdown: NaturalStatTrick

Team Report

As a team, Dallas has not been as dominant statistically as one might think. They have been out-chanced in 7 of 14 games in shot attempts (Corsi), 5 of 14 games in unblocked shot attempts (Fenwick), and 3 of 14 games in Expected Goals For (xGF). Despite all of this, they went 6-1 in those 7 poor Corsi games, 4-1 in those 5 poor Fenwick games, and 2-1 in those 3 poor xGF games.

Hockey has been, and will continue to be a goal-scoring affair. Dallas has been relatively successful on the goal-scoring front, with great finishing on the chances they have been offered and a team-wide shooting percentage of 9.38% (11th), as well as a team save percentage of 0.922 (11th).

While other teams like Vancouver and Detroit may have absurd team shooting percentages at this point in time, these teams will likely come back down to earth on the shooting front, and teams like Anaheim and Montreal will likely come down to earth on the goaltending front.

I feel that Dallas is in an ideal spot where they have not ‘gotten lucky’ or been extremely unlucky so far, and these current numbers actually show us Dallas’ team identity at face value: good shooters, good goaltending, good team. I expect them to be rewarded for this consistency eventually with some exceptional offensive games soon enough.

Line Tool

The NaturalStat Line Tool is one that I use quite often in my analysis, as it shows player statistics with and without any teammate of choice. Using the most common Dallas Stars forward lines, I offer a summary of the three main lines at 5v5:

Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski (131 minutes): This has been an underwhelming top line. The ‘eye test’ showed relatively sloppy gameplay, a lack of speed in transition, and multiple goals against, and the stats back this up. The top line is operating at 48% Corsi, 46% Fenwick, and a 49% High-Danger Corsi For % (HDCF%) at 5v5.

These three poor numbers, combined with a favorable 54% Offensive Zone Faceoff deployment percentage (OZFO%), show that this line has not reached a level that we’ve seen in previous years. It may take another chunk of games before Roope Hintz is fully immersed in the ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ playstyle that this line offers (since he missed training camp), but I am also worried about the lack of defensive awareness and speed in general from this line long-term.

Marchment-Duchene-Seguin (97 minutes): If it was not already obvious, Matt Duchene brings more speed than any Dallas Stars acquisition in recent memory, and his play-driving ability and in-zone skill are great for the stats and fun to watch. This line is operating at 54% Corsi, 52% Fenwick, and 67% HDCF%, all while being deployed less favorably than the top line at only 44% of their faceoffs in the OZ.

They have also scored 6 High-Danger goals and given up 0. Early on in the season, I remember the pains of watching these three figure each other out, but they have evidently gotten the chemistry going and the consistency that was lacking in both Marchment in Seguin in recent years has seemingly been resolved.

Benn-Johnston-Dadonov (103 minutes): I was skeptical of this line because I was worried that the defensive half of the game would be forgotten by Benn and Dadonov who aren’t typically defensively-conscious wingers, leaving 20-year-old Johnston to battle in the DZ alone. This is pretty much what has happened, with this line only offering 45% Corsi, 46% Fenwick, 43% xGF, and 42% HDCF%.

For reference, San Jose’s first line of Eklund-Hertl-Zetterland is operating at around 35-40% in most categories, and Pittsburgh’s Guentzel-Crosby-Rust operates at around 56%+ in most categories, so this line being closer to the bottom is worrisome.

If I were to reconstruct the lineup, I’d like to see Benn-Johnston-Dellandrea together (63% Corsi in 13 minutes together). Dellandrea’s forechecking, ‘all gas, no breaks’ playstyle, and work ethic can be great alongside Johnston and Benn, allowing those two to not have to be F1 all the time.

Dallas Stars Statistical Breakdown: Moneypuck.com

xGoals %, Powerplay info, and Jake Oettinger

Here are some quickfire notes from Moneypuck.com:

  • Heiskanen-Suter leads the way for defensive pairs with a 60.1% xGoals % at 5v5, while both Harley-Hakanpaa and Lindell-Hakanpaa are controlling only ~40% of xGoals % and Lindell-Hakanpaa are giving up ~76 shot attempts against per 60 minutes, which screams “Lian Bichsel call-up” to solidify the weak link.
  • Before the absurd Minnesota game, Dallas was 3rd-last in 5v4 minutes at 55 minutes, where teams like the Los Angeles Kings have over 90+ in similar games. NHL.com had them at 2nd-last in 5v4 opportunities per game before the Minnesota game as well. More opportunities can lead to better rhythm and chemistry which can lead to more goals.
  • Jake Oettinger is 8th in the league with 6.2 Goals Saved Above Expected, which is unironically expected by everybody. He has kept Dallas in games all season so far, and I hope the ‘load management’ routine continues as a means to hopefully deter injuries from happening due to over-exertion.

Summary after 14 Games

Overall, the Dallas Stars are a good offensive team that gives up a lot of chances, has game-saving goaltending, has only one above-average 5v5 forward line at the moment, has not had many powerplay opportunities (until Sunday), and plays a weak, ‘lack-of-shot-suppression’ style of defense that the stats do not like but somehow still results in the team winning games 3-2.

Dallas does not have any players with a point-per-game or better pace as well (Johnston, Hintz, and Pavelski are closest at 0.93 each), but again, they are 10-3-1. I am excited to see what these numbers look like after another month of games, and I hope the defensive game gets figured out.