NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Dallas Stars.
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After the Dallas Stars finished with a .482 points percentage last season, their lowest since 1995-96 (.402), they hired coach Ken Hitchcock on April 13. Hitchcock coached the Stars from 1995-02.
There is a way to establish how valuable Hitchcock can be for the Stars. By comparing how a coach's team has performed in terms of points in the standings and then subtracting its statistical expectations, a coach's impact can be measured reliably in the long term. As explained in my 2013 book "Hockey Abstract," these expectations can be set in a variety of ways, most simply by taking the team's points from the previous season regressed 35 percent toward the NHL average.
Using this approach, Hitchcock has added an average of 5.2 points per season to the standings, third in the League behind Bruce Boudreau of the Minnesota Wild (9.8) and Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning (5.9).
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2. Shorthanded slumber
The Stars penalty kill was last in the NHL last season at 73.9 percent, down from 82.3 percent in 2015-16 (10th in the League). It also was the lowest percentage for the Stars/Minnesota North Stars franchise since 1977-78, when the North Stars killed 72.0 percent of their penalties.
The arrival of several experienced penalty-killers, among them defenseman Marc Methot and forwards Martin Hanzal and Brian Flynn, will help. But the major problem was a team save percentage of .815 in shorthanded situations, the worst in the League, according to Natural Stat Trick.
To help fix the issue, the Stars acquired goalie Ben Bishop in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings on May 9 and signed him to a six-year, $29.5 million contract three days later. Bishop's .897 career shorthanded save percentage ranks fifth among the 65 active NHL goalies who have played at least 50 games.
3. Goalie support
Bishop joins goalie Kari Lehtonen, who is entering his ninth season with the Stars. The most interesting commonality between Bishop and Lehtonen is each has benefited from a lot of goal support.
A goaltender's offensive support is calculated as the average number of goals his team scores in games he started. By going through NHL game files, I calculated that the Stars averaged 3.21 goals per game when Lehtonen was in net over the past three seasons, which ranks second to Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins (3.32). Bishop ranks third with 3.03.