By any measure this has been a very disappointing start to the season for our DStars. They aren’t winning at home. They aren’t scoring at will, or when it matters. They aren’t closing games. They aren’t keeping the puck out of their net. They aren’t defending consistently. And they aren’t playing a cohesive team-game.
Yes, they are physically missing some key personnel but lately its become evident that they’re biggest enemy is themselves - they are a ‘fragile’ bunch mentally. They are in a horrid slump and are staggering in the win-loss column. They have the look of a group that is expecting bad things to happen – and bad things they are a happening. They are enveloped in a cognitive self-fulfilling prophecy.
Is this shocking?
You’re damn straight it is. Pundits from coast to coast in both North American countries slathered anointing oil all over the Stars in the off-season. Sports Illustrated had them pegged for 100 points and 3rd in the Central Division, same prediction from The Globe and Mail in Canada, while The Hockey News picked them for 4th.
No arguments here.
I said - rather vociferously - that the Stars of 2014-15 would return to the triple-digit point plateau for the first time since 2007…if…and here’s the caveat: if the defense ‘overachieved’ and the goaltending played to potential – consistently.
Those two areas have a symbiotic relationship. One has to protect the other, while, when it’s vice-versa; it’s more about bailing the other one out. Whichever way, the relationship is about trust and that trust seems a tad shaky right now.
All of this has been preamble to my actual overarching observation, or reality. According to Cap Geek, a phenomenal website that tracks each teams salary cap situation, the Stars money is divvied up like this:
- They rank #1 in money spent on forwards
- They rank 10th in money spent on goaltending
- They rank 30th out of 30 teams in money spent on defensemen
What do I parse from these rankings? Well, let me put my Captain Obvious hat on and state that in their current structure, until their young defensemen ripen or upgrades are acquired, the Stars need:
- A top 10 powerplay
- A top 10 offense
- Mistake erasing, occasionally game-stealing goaltending
There have been games in the first quarter of this season that featured just that. The 6-3 win over the Canucks and the 4-2 victory in Columbus come to mind, but those tilts took place a month ago.
The time is now for the Stars to create the reality they so desire, the one those suntanned observers predicted. In order to do so they’ll have to get out of their own heads and start earning those paychecks.
Since I am the self-proclaimed Minister of Mind Vitamins, I’d work on the heads by writing this on the whiteboard in the dressing room at AAC:
Believing that we will prevail in our circumstances rather than believing our circumstances will change.