While Dallas is only being represented by forward Jason Robertson and first-year head coach Peter Deboer at the 2023 NHL All-Star Game in Sunrise Florida this Saturday, one would think if you’d have shown them where they sit in the standings before the year- they’d be more than pleased.
Dallas sits at 28-13-10, firmly in first place in the Central Division after a 3-2 over time loss to New Jersey on Friday night at the American Airlines Center. It will be a week off for everyone except for Deboer and Robertson, who take part in the All-Star Game festivities starting Thursday.
With 31 games left in the NHL’s home stretch, here’s some thoughts and observations about where the Stars stand as they eye another division crown.
What A Difference a Year Can Make
After being the lone team in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a negative goal differential, Deboer has completely turned the table in that stat. Dallas currently occupies a +40 goal differential, second in the NHL only behind the historic Boston Bruins- who are one of the few teams to clear 80 points before the break in league history.
A well-blended attack paired with continued elite scoring from the top six have more than covered the Stars in this area. A fresh set of eyes in determining offensive and defensive strategy doesn’t hurt, either.
Though he didn’t receive the nod, goalie Jake Oettinger was in the conversation to represent the Central in the All-Star Game- in fact, he narrowly lost the final vote. That’s a great sign of progression in what is really his first full season between the pipes.
Oettinger has played well, posting a 21-7-7 record with a 2.26 GAA, and backup Scott Wedgewood has exceeded expectations from the deadline deal last year.
Avoiding the Overtime Loss
One concerning trends we’ve seen from Dallas lately has been the propensity to take the overtime loss. The Stars have 10 overtime losses, only one fewer than cellar dwellar San Jose, who boasts just 14 wins. The Stars are also 1-2 in shootouts.
It’s not quite as agonizing as the infamous 2021 shoout out and overtime ineptitude, but still, falling in OT to both Eastern Conference opponents Buffalo and Carolina, in two games the Stars easily could’ve won is not ideal.
After the All-Star break is over, Dallas will do some real self-evaluating ahead of possible trade deadline deals as the team heads down the stretch. The Stars return to the ice February 6 against Anaheim.