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Inconsistency keeps Stars from postseason berth

by Steve Hunt
What Happened?


LW Loui Eriksson
GOALS: 26 | ASST: 45 | PTS: 71
SOG: 187 | +/-: 18
G Kari Lehtonen
RECORD: 32-22-4
GAA: 2.33 | SVP: 0.922
D Philip Larsen
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 11
SOG: 69 | +/-: 11
Kari Lehtonen
None of the four players (Trevor Daley, Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro) who skated in all 82 games last season accomplished the same feat this year. Three Stars (Eriksson, Vernon Fiddler, Michael Ryder) were the only players to not miss a game this season.

Inconsistency was what possibly defined the Stars most in 2011-12. Dallas roared to an 11-3-0 start and also went on an 11-game point streak between late February and mid-March, a stretch where they went 10-0-1. But other than that, there wasn’t much in the way of consistency for this club, whose power play ranked as one of the worst in the entire league.

How to Fix It?

This will be the first off-season for Dallas under new owner Tom Gaglardi and there are several needs to address. Adding a true No. 1 defenseman could be at or near the top of their list of priorities along with bringing in another top-six forward who can take some of the offensive load off the shoulders of Jamie Benn, a 2012 All-Star, and Eriksson.

Three Reasons for Hope:

1. Benn and Eriksson are All-Star-caliber talents and cornerstones to build around. The addition of Michael Ryder last summer from the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins has only helped to make this talented young duo even better.

2. Lehtonen stayed healthy for much of the season and kept the Stars in a lot of games, making him a no-brainer pick for team MVP. The 28-year-old Finnish netminder has firmly established himself as one of the NHL’s elite-level goaltenders.

3. The Stars had four different players make their NHL debuts this season, including winger Reilly Smith, a candidate for the 2012 Hobey Baker Award. Backup goaltender Richard Bachman, Larsen and forward Tomas Vincour are other rookies who chipped in for Dallas. Local product Austin Smith and 2011 first-round pick Jamieson Oleksiak are among the prospects headlining what is a fairly well-stocked system.

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