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Stars trying to find perfect balance in search for consistency

After a scorching run, Dallas finds itself in another offensive slump despite creating scoring chances

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- I know a few crusty old defensemen who will tell you that there is nothing tougher than playing good, hard defense.

Scoring, they say, is just natural skill that comes out in the fortunate few who possess good genes. Stopping scoring, well, that's a product of heart, intelligence and determination.

I'm not so sure I agree.

As you watch these past few seasons unfold for the lads in Victory Green, scoring not only requires physical work, it's an intense test of mental toughness.

The Stars are in a scoring slump again. It's a brief one, for now, but it has all the marking of the ones that came before. Truth is, the Stars actually create a lot of scoring chances. Natural Stat Trick has them at fifth in expected goals for and second in high-danger chances for.

And yet, they still sit 23rd in the league in goal scoring. That's up from last season when they finished 29th with 2.55 goals per game. Currently, Dallas has one goal in the past six periods. That's just two games, but it definitely is something that scares not only fans, but players and coaches, too.

Video: STL@DAL: Hintz fires snap shot to tie the game late

Dallas went through a run where it tallied 47 goals while going 11-0-1. It was a wonderful mix of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin finding their touch again, Alexander Radulov, Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski mixing in big games, and Radek Faksa having a career-best, eight-game point streak. Jason Dickinson found his touch, same with Miro Heiskanen and Justin Dowling.

It was all of the things that fans were hoping for in the summer when this team was assembled. It was scoring by committee, scoring at key moments, scoring that was downright contagious.

And then it wasn't.

Seguin and Benn have two points over the past four games. Pavelski hasn't scratched the sheet in seven. Faksa has gone cold. The Stars have just one goal in losses to the Blackhawks and Blues, and that's pretty upsetting when you consider they have allowed just two goals against (aside from empty-netters) in each of the games.

Score a goal or two more, and the Stars would have picked up a point or two in the standings. Convert on what appeared to be golden chances, and nobody is talking about how hard it is to score.

But here we are.


[GAME DAY GUIDE: Everything you need to know for Stars at Wild]


Back to the main shortcoming.

Jim Montgomery likes to say that he believes previous results are the best indicator for future performances. By that, he means that Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have about 700 games of history that says they can score in the NHL, so if either goes through a slump, it's generally fairly short.

The problem with that theory is that the Stars team we have seen over the past 100-plus games also has a history -- and it's not one of scoring.

More recent games suggest that solutions are out there. The addition of Pavelski, who had 38 goals last season, and the improvement of Hintz, who has 11 this year, are signs that the Stars are moving in the right direction.

But they have to be able to make these scoring slumps brief…or at least briefer. Dallas was the worst offensive team in the league for the first 13 games of the year, and it really was creeping into their hands and minds at that time. Once they broke the slump, though, you could see just how much players relaxed.

They stopped thinking, and that opened the floodgates.

Video: STL@DAL: Montgomery breaks down Stars' home defeat

Well, it's more complicated than that, and that's why it is such an incredible talent. Yes, being fast, or big, or naturally gifted, helps; but the bottom line is it takes everything you have to score goals in this league.

It's arguably the toughest thing to do, and that's why the people who can are feted with awards and big contracts and a ton of ice time.

We're splitting hairs here, because a good team has to have defense, offense, goaltending, and special teams. But while we hear that you have to "work" your way out of a slump, scoring goals requires the right balance of passion and peace. Get to the place where you get a scoring chance, and then find a quiet vision when the puck in on your stick.

Because this is an area where if you work too hard, it can actually backfire on you.


Dallas Stars (15-10-2) at Minnesota Wild (11-11-4)

Sunday, 2 p.m. CT

TV: FOX Sports Southwest PLUS; ESPN+

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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