The Dallas Stars are one-quarter of the way through their season and very little has gone as planned. It's not even December yet, and the Stars have already faced more than a season's worth of adversity. With everything that has happened to date, you'd be forgiven for feeling like the season is six months old instead of not even two. Yet here we are, already with a myriad of storylines to point towards. But perhaps the biggest story of all is where the Stars currently find themselves in the standings. And it might not be for the reasons you think.
Let's recap a bit.
Beginning all the way back before training camp, a mountain of injuries forced Dallas into lineup and personnel changes they never saw coming. The club that seemed like it practically lapped the rest of the league in goal scoring last year has an offense ranked right in the middle of the pack. (It seems that can happen when you pull last year's combined total of 113 goals from Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Cody Eakin, Jiri Hudler, Mattias Janmark, and Ales Hemsky all out of the lineup at the same time.)
By the time the Stars hit the 20-game mark, 26 different players had already suited up for Dallas. However, only eight of them played in every game. Among them are Lauri Korpikoski, Adam Cracknell, and Devin Shore - all considered depth forwards heading into the season. Back on the blue line the Stars have already iced nine different defensemen this season. Though not a single one has played in every game.
Because of this, players have seen their roles change drastically. Antoine Roussel has spent time on the first-unit power play. Jordie Benn is manning the point on the second-unit. Patrick Eaves leads the team in goal scoring. Five different defensemen have led a game in ice time. That list includes Jamie Oleksiak, who before last week had only played over 20 minutes four times in his NHL career, and had not done it since January 2015. According to Mark Stepneski of the Stars website, Dallas has already started games with 32 different line combinations this season