Less than a month ago, things were looking pretty bleak for the Dallas Stars. On November 10th, they lost 4-2 to the Nashville Predators to put their record at 4-6-2. Certain factions of the fan base, brittle as we can be, latched on to any coach or front office member they could and called for their heads.
To be honest, it was hard to argue with the bottom line results. To that point, the Stars were playing from behind in most games despite their best efforts. At their worst, they looked old and slow and were having tremendous difficulties getting out of their own way. Even then, I was going to give them twenty games to get their act together before I made any rash proclamations.
The Dallas Stars’ top line has made them one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
Since that loss to Nashville, the Stars’ turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable. Save for a pretty glaring hiccup in Minnesota back on November 18th, Dallas has won eight of their past nine games. All in all, they’ve played 21 games now. They’re record is a much more respectable 12-7-2, and as of this moment, they’re one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Now, if you look at their splits at face value, it’s hard to tell how well they’ve been playing lately. Their goal differential is only +2 after all. But a closer look easily tells the story of how this bunch has pulled together. Not only that, but the calls for the maligned coach’s head have “mysteriously” disappeared.
To wit, when the Stars were at their lowest–4-6-2–their goal differential was -12 (27 GF/39 GA). It doesn’t take a quantum physicist to understand that that’s not going to win a lot of games. But since then, they’ve posted a record of 8-1-0 with 33 goals for and 19 against. And that even includes the 7-2 Minnesota debacle on November 18th.
Speaking of November 18th, that’s actually the last time the Dallas Stars lost a game. They’ve won six in row and have been dummying teams in the process. In fact, they’re averaging 3.5 goals per game during the winning streak while giving up less than 1.5 goals per contest in the same span.
Sure, the goaltending has been phenomenal. Jake Oettinger has been solidifying his status as the future of the franchise since he was called up, and Braden Holtby has enjoyed a return to form after returning from injury. But the emergence of the top line of Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Jason Robertson has spearheaded the Stars’ resurgence.
As I said last week, Pavelksi has been splendidly holding off Father Time here in Dallas. During this six-game run, the sixteen-year veteran has tallied 3 goals and 7 assists. Hintz, for his part, has been a scoring machine with 7 goals and 3 assists. Finally, Robertson has compiled 4 goals and 4 assists. Furthermore, the trio is a combined +26 in plus/minus, which is astounding by any metric. Points are falling out of their pockets, and the wins are following closely behind.
Also, if you think the Stars might be getting fat on some weak teams, think again. Wins have come against Detroit, St. Louis, Edmonton, and Colorado, all of which currently possess a playoff spot. Safe to say that the Stars have been working through their issues and have been beating some solid teams in the process. This bodes well as the season enters its second quarter.
The opportunity to keep the roll going continues tonight with the moribund Coyotes in town. I say this with caution, though, because while Arizona’s record is horrible, they presented plenty of challenges to the Stars the last time they played. In other words, it’s a perfect trap game for a Stars’ team that might be overlooking them. In any event, the Stars are showing that they possess the character most of us thought they did.