With Sunday’s game against the New York Islanders, the Dallas Stars hit the halfway point of their season at 41 games. And it’s been an impressive first half.
The Stars are 28-9-4 for 60 points. It’s the second-best record in franchise history after 41 games. Only the 1998-99 team had more points after 41 games with 61 (27-7-7).
As for the 2015-16 season, the Stars lead the league in points and rank second in points percentage. Only Washington, which is 28-7-3 and has a .776 points percentage, ranks higher than the Stars (.732).
Here is a brief look at a few key categories for the Stars.
The Stars were expected to score goals, and they have. They lead the league in scoring at 3.49 goals per game. The second highest team in scoring is Washington, which is averaging 3.13 per game. And the Stars have been pretty consistent in scoring. They have scored three or more goals in 75.6 percent of their games (31 of 41). Washington has scored three or more goals in 50.0 percent of their games (19 of 38). Boston, the third highest scoring team in the league, has scored three or more 57.5 percent of their games (23 of 40).
The power play has played its part in the offense, ranking fourth in the league at 22.9 percent and scoring 30 goals, tied for most in the league. The Stars are 17-3-0 when scoring on the power play and 11-6-4 when they don’t.
Getting the goals against down was a big focus for the Stars this season, and they have done that through the first half of the season. They are allowing 2.56 per game, which ranks 13th in the league. That’s a big improvement over last season when they ranked 26th in the NHL, allowing 3.13 per game. The Stars have allowed two goals or fewer in 21 of 41 (51.2) percent of their games. Last season they allowed two goals or fewer in 29 of 82 (35.3 percent) of their games.
Improved defensive play has helped get the goals against number down, and so has the goaltending. Antti Niemi, acquired in the offseason, is 16-6-4 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Kari Lehtonen has hit a rough patch lately, but he is 12-3-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. The Stars’ team save percentage is .912 and ranked 17th in the league. That number is middle of the pack, but it is a significant improvement over last season when the team’s save percentage was .895 and ranked 29th in the NHL. Perhaps more significant, the Stars have two goaltenders capable of winning games after 14 wins from their backups the past two seasons - seven in each season.
Being better at home was high on the Stars’ list of goals this season and at the midway point of the season, they are the best home team in the league at 16-4-0 (32 points). They had 17 home wins all last season (17-16-8) and didn’t get their 16th win at home until March 23. The Stars are currently on a 12-2-0 run at American Airlines Center.
The Stars are 12-5-4 on the road and rank fourth in the NHL as far as points away from home with 28. They’ve hit a bump in the road lately, losing six of their past seven (1-3-3).
The Stars wanted to be stronger within the Central Division this season, and they are off to a good start in that regard. They are 7-2-1 at the halfway point of the season, and their .750 points percentage is tied with Colorado for best within the division. The Stars won only eight games against the division last season (8-14-7).
Here’s another way to look at it. The Stars picked up 23 points in their 29 division games last season. The other six Central teams went 21-7-1 against the Stars in those 29 games for 43 points. So far this season, the Stars have 15 points in ten division games. The Stars’ division opponents are 3-5-2 in those games for eight points.
The Stars have had some pockets of inconsistent play, but they’ve been pretty consistent in picking up wins and points. Until this past weekend, they hadn’t lost consecutive games. Here’s a look at their record in ten game increments, excluding game 41 of the season.
1st ten games: 8-2-0 (16 points)
2nd ten games: 8-2-0 (16 points)
3rd ten games: 6-2-2 (14 points)
4th ten games: 6-2-2 (14 points)
Here’s a look at where the Stars rank in some key statistical categories at the halfway mark of the season.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.
|Record ||28-9-4 (60 points) ||1st |
|Points Percentage ||.732 ||2nd |
|Home ||16-4-0 (32 points) ||1st |
|Away ||12-5-4 (28 points) ||4th |
|Goals For ||3.49 ||1st |
|Goals Against ||2.56 ||13th |
|Goal Differential ||.93/game ||2nd |
|5-on-5 GF/GA Ratio ||1.25 (91-73) ||5th |
|Save Percentage ||.912 ||17th |
|Power Play ||22.9 ||4th |
|Penalty Kill ||80.0 ||14th |
|Shots For ||32.6 ||1st |
|Shots Against ||29.1 ||14th |
|Shot Differential ||3.5/game ||5th |
|Close Game Fenwick (Possession) ||53.8 ||4th |
|Faceoffs ||51.3 ||6th |