The Sky Is Falling; Why The Dallas Stars Are Losing Games

James Ward, Sports Editor

The Dallas Stars are currently 11-12-10, a far cry of the playoff contenders they have been the past few years. After making the Stanley Cup finals last season, why are the Stars so bad?


Since the 2016 season the Dallas Stars have had four different head coaches, with only one of them lasting more than a year and another technically going for a year and a half. The lack of stable coaching staff is one of the big reasons why the team is failing offensively. 


Each coach has a specific system that they will run, and with a new coach every year the players are left confused and learning a new system. Coach Rick Bowness runs a defensive scheme that requires defensive forwards that dump and chase the puck in the offensive zone. This strategy strangles and kills all offensive creativity which is exactly what the stars have been showing. Zero Offense. 


The injury and sickness bug has bit the Stars for the past three years, but it is especially rough this year. At the beginning of the season, 17 Dallas Stars players tested positive for COVID and their first three games were postponed. A symptom that some people experience after COVID has left their systems is a fatigue, and it can last for many months. 


Currently four players are on the injured reserve, three of which are forwards. Once first line right winger Alexander Radulov injured his lower body (undisclosed) early in the season, the Stars’ offensive production has steadily decreased. 


Roope Hintz has had a lower body injury (undisclosed) for the majority of the season. Hintz will come in to play one game and miss three more and repeat the cycle. 


The same thing can be said for Joel Kiviranta and Alexander Radulov. If these players were to just sit out and heal, the organization could bring up younger talent to learn the ropes and possibly accelerate the time it takes for them to be ready for a regular roster spot. 


The roster is also getting old. The average age of an NHL player is 27 years old and the stars have the third oldest team in the NHL. Captain Jamie Benn is 31 years old, Andrew Cogliano is 33 years old, Alexander Radulov is 34 years old and Alternate Captain Joe Pavelski is 36 years old. Joe Pavelski is having a career year, but the rest have been slowing down in production. 


Contracts for these older players have been destroying the cap space situation. Jamie Benn has five goals on the year and only 11 points in total, he hasn’t scored a goal since March 16. Benn is signed for another four years and will continue to take $9.5 million off of the cap each year. This would be fine if the captain scores, but he hasn’t been. 


One of the biggest reasons why the Dallas Stars are seeing stars is their goalie situation, Anton Khudobin is not the player he was in the team’s playoff run last year. He has been slower and his rookie backup, Jake Oettinger, has been having trouble playing the crease. The team doesn’t have their Vezina Trophy finalist (league best goaltender) goalie anymore, something they have had the past three years. 


The Central Division is stacked with playoff caliber teams. The Tampa Bay Lightning are tied for the best overall record in the NHL and are looking for a repeat Stanley Cup victory. The Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes are two of the top five teams respectively in the league. These are two teams that don’t usually find success, but are now riding the high tide because of their records. The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators are tied for fourth place in the Central, which is the last playoff spot in the division. The Stars are seven points out from that playoff spot. 

Despite all this, there are some good things that have happened this season. The Dallas Stars have seen what the dump and chase strategy has done and can hire someone to possibly help revamp the offense next season. The team has found great new talent in the form of rookies: center Ty Dellandrea and possible Calder Memorial Trophy (rookie of the year) contender left winger Jason Robertson. When Robertson has been paired with Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski, good results have occurred. 


There is even more hope at the end of the tunnel for the Stars than what some realize. Even though they are second to last in their division, they have played the fewest games out of any other team this season. With some of the early season games rescheduled for later. The organization could see a strong push to take the fourth spot in the division and get the last playoff berth of the Central Division with the rescheduled games. But at the moment, there is still a long way to go.