The Stars could do no wrong just 2 weeks ago, and now they can barely buy a goal. In the last 4 games, the Stars have scored exactly 5 goals, which is a sharp departure from the 3 games before that when they totaled 15 goals.
Progress is never a straight line up.
But, anyone who looks at where this team has placed all of its eggs will tell you that this team must score if it is to have any chance. They have placed nearly $33 million of their $49 million in payroll on the forwards, with about $25 million going to the top 6 forwards. That is why even a 4 game scoring drought will not fly. They can accept falling short with this shortened budget, but they must get production from those who they depend upon to do so.
For now, the Dallas Stars are built with a blue-line that is inexperienced and a bit underfunded to say the least. But, that crew has held together pretty well for the first 15 games, and with the help of very solid goaltending so far – defense has been acceptable. 44 goals against in 15 games is nothing to write home about, but there are tons of teams in the league doing much worse and there seems to be some reasonable upside, too.
The Penalty Kill is still in need of serious improvement as they sat at 28th in the league. Colorado and Edmonton are worse, but that is it. For the team to mount a serious threat, that will need to improve to what you would hope would be the top 20 of the league.
And yet, I keep coming back to the Top 6. I need them to be a major threat at home and on the road. If they can push the issue, then this team can sustain the occasional puck in their own net. But, Tuesday was another example of very little offense and when Corey Perry scored a Power Play goal in the 2nd, the game was back to even despite the Stars playing so well in the early going. With no offense, there is no margin for error.
That is why I would propose that the young phenom, Jamie Benn needs to be left up in the Top 6 with Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow. I understand the logic of dropping him down so he continue to develop as a center (even though Ott is taking the faceoffs) and a player who can carry his own line, but in my estimation, Ribeiro is a playmaker and he needs as many capable targets on his line to set up as Brad Richards has on his. One line is not enough in this league. You have to have two lines that can stress an opponent on a regular basis, but right now, the Stars don’t seem to have anything of the kind.
Brad Richards did what he has always done last night in the 3rd Period. As usual, without #91, this thing would be in real rough shape. But they need even more from him. He scored the game-winning goal to beat the Ducks, 2-1. The puck crossed the line by a hair, which demonstrated the final margin of the contest. The Stars beat the Ducks for the 1st time in 3 tries by a hair.
On one hand, the Stars are off to a very nice start. On the other hand, this morning you open your paper and see the Stars would not be in the Top 8 in the West. With a fine start of 9-7, they are still on the outside looking in on the playoff hunt.
They need even more from the Top 6. They need to get Ribs going. They need more from Richards and his line on the road.
Nobody said this was going to be easy, and 16 games in, we are seeing it won’t be. They have plenty of good going, but now they have to figure out how to put the puck in the net again. More often, preferably.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
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