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Stars Weekly: Dallas shows signs of life, but still lacks punch after 1-3 week

Stars Weekly: Dallas shows signs of life, but still lacks punch after 1-3 week

After limping to March from a two-win February, Saturday’s shutout win and Sunday’s near-comeback overtime loss against Nashville might be enough to keep Stars fans from throwing in the towel on 2021- but it’s still not enough to keep pace for fourth place in the Central Division.

Somehow, the Stars have STILL played the least games of anyone in the league after separate COVID-19 and Winter Weather pauses- but time is running out to try to make the playoffs.

As mentioned in last week’s post, the goalposts have moved for the 2020 Western Conference champions after injuries to Tyler Seguin, Ben Bishop and Alexander Radulov- with the target now a fourth-place playoff spot in the tougher-than-expected division.

Offense: C+ 

Dallas has taken a firm step back offensively compared to last year- currently sitting dead center in the NHL with 2.88 goals per game. Things have taken step in the right direction with seven goals in its last three- but that came after consecutive shutouts against Tampa Bay.

Fortuantely, young superstar defenseman Miro Heiskanen has finally started to heat up. He tallied his first goal of the season Thursday and added another Saturday, in addition to two more assists Sunday for a four-point week.

Despite the play of Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski and now Miro Heiskanen, the Stars are desperately missing Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin. Radulov is on injured reserve hasn’t played since Feb. 12. Seguin hasn’t seen the ice all season after recovering from a torn labrum, and depending on the course of the Stars season, might not at all in this abbreviated season.

Hintz has also missed time with several injuries- including’s Sunday loss after a highlight-reel goal Saturday- but has shown his value with 12 points in just 14 games in limited action.

“Power Play Joe” Pavelski tallied another goal with the man advantage- his league-leading 10th on the year. He’s starting to run away with it, too- Hart Trophy candidate Auston Matthews is far off the pace with seven on the year.

Defense: C+

It’s hard to pin Dallas down defensively with an amazing 2.55 goals per game average- currently ranking 7th in the NHL. Despite the less-than-desirable 2.80 goals per game, the Stars still boast a positive plus-minus margin- the only such team in the Central division to be in the green in that category.

Dallas is missing the defensive play of John Klingberg, who hasn’t played in the last two after becoming a new father. His return will certainly give the unit a boost.

Dallas looked better this week after getting beaten off the boards late in last week’s games and its veterans called out, but still isn’t doing enough to bury suspect teams like Columbus and Nashville- and this week’s games are proving it.

Special Teams: C+

Dallas finally got a boost with a power play goal against Columbus Saturday, and even added a short-handed tally to end a long drought in Saturday’s 5-0 win. Radek Faksa’s shorty was Dallas’ first since its 7-0 opening night romp against Nashville. The power play is still a top-ten unit, but has slowly slipped down the league rankings since exploding to start the season.

As for the penalty kill, the numbers have stayed relatively the same. Dallas checks in at 17th in the league, killing off opponent power plays at a 78 percent mark. The Stars are definitely getting beaten in 5-on-5 more than special situations in recent weeks.

Goaltending: B-

Jake Oettinger is a longshot candiate for the Calder Trophy- the league’s award to its top rookie- but he’s still grabbing attention with his play in 2021. He recorded his first career shutout in Saturday night’s win- with his brother and sister in attendance in Dallas. He boasts a 3-1 record with a 2.12 goals against average and .916 save percentage.

He also got two straight starts including the shutout- and has now started 8 of Dallas’ 20 contests.

Overall: C

It’s already a long shot, but in order for the the Stars have been hit hardest by scheduling inconsistencies- but time is running out for excuses. Dallas will play 36 games in 63 days, with its only game preceded by multiple games played behind it. Chicago is winning at a playoff pace, and if the Stars have any chance of catching up and grabbing the Central’s fourth playoff spot, all-around improvement has to start this week.

If Dallas is going to turn the season around, it has to start now- and back-to-back home games against Chicago are a great opportunity to do so. The season has brought a consistent them of underachieving off of high expectations from last year’s deep run.

This week: Tuesday vs. Chicago, Thursday vs. Chicago, Saturday at Columbus, Sunday at Columbus.

Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars for Dallas Sports Fanatic. Sports journalism grad from the University of Missouri. Christ follower, Dallas sports fan living in Houston.

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