Where it Went Wrong for the Stars
By Patrick Hoffman
**Originally drafted on April 3, 2018**
Going into the season, there were a lot of high hopes for the Dallas Stars.
The team brought back veteran and future Hall of Fame coach Ken Hitchcock, signed reliable goaltender Ben Bishop to a big contract and added this to the solid offense that they already had. After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, it appeared that the team was on the right track to male the playoffs this year.
Fast forward to now (April 3) and while it has not been all terrible, the Stars are more than likely not going to get into the postseason. The team sits five points back of the Colorado Avalanche, who currently hold the second wild card spot (As of April 3) with 93 points.
Should the team not make the playoffs, there will be a few different reasons to look at. It starts with the club's goaltending, something that has been an issue for this franchise for the last few seasons.
Believe it or not, it is not the quality of goaltending that has hurt the Stars this season. Bishop, who is now out for the season with a lower-body injury, actually performed quite well this season as he went 26-17-5 this season with a 2.49 goals against average, a .916 save percentage, and five shutouts in 53 games.
There is the problem, folks. Bishop was not always healthy this season and had he been, this team might finds themselves either in a playoff spot, or very, very close to one.
With Bishop not being in the lineup as much as they would like him to be, goals against has also been a problem for the Stars this season. As of this writing (April 3), the team is 23rd in the league with 213 goals allowed in 79 games.
Even though Bishop played relatively well this season and backup Kari Lehtonen gave the team solid goaltending (14-14-3 with a 2.54 GAA, .912 save percentage and one shutout), the team in front of them constantly gave up high-quality scoring chances. It simply does not matter who is in goal if the team's defense is going to give opposing shooters a clear path to the net.
Another area this team struggled with this year was on offense. Even with the talented roster that they have, the Stars are currently (April 3) 22nd in the league in goals scored.
Besides players like Tyler Seguin (40 goals and 36 assists for 76 points), Jamie Benn (29 goals and 42 assists for 71 points), and Alexander Radulov (27 goals and 41 assists for 68 points), no one else really produced consistently for this hockey club. Going forward, this team cannot continue to rely on these three guys to supply all the offense because it certainly will not help the team get into the postseason dance.
Lastly, and this one is a killer, this team blew a lot of leads down the stretch. I am talking about multiple goal leads that teams vying for a playoff spot need to lock down once the third period begins.
The Stars did not do that this year, which is surprising considering that Hitchcock is the team's head coach. This team played too loose at the wrong times and unfortunately, it is more than likely going to cost them a playoff spot.
When the Stars are on the golf course in the near future, they can look at the reasons above to see why they will not be playing hockey during the most important and fun time of the year.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.