After a good start on home ice, with three wins and one loss, the Dallas Stars went on their first road trip for two games. It’s a new season, with new additions to the roster, and a new coach, and all eyes were set on this first roadie, hoping it would change the Stars’ not-so-good history on the road.
The team was in good shape after a 5-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (Oct. 13), and it looked like they were on their way to a good first road trip… until it didn’t happen.
First stop: Ottawa.
Now, it’s no secret that the Senators are the representation of that meme of the cartoon dog saying “this is fine” while the whole place is on fire, so why did the Stars fail to take the win? Even worse, why didn’t they play as they would against any other contender?
The Sens have seen better times, yes. The Stars have some strong assets and both a power play and penalty kill unit with the potential of becoming a major threat in the league. And yet, offense was nowhere to be found, and the Stars certainly didn’t shine that night (even with a goal from Klingberg), losing 4-1.
And then came New Jersey
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and one normally learns from past mistakes (especially those that happened less than 24 hours ago). Well, not this time.
The New Jersey Devils are a harder opponent than the Senators, and at the time of writing, they are the only undefeated team (4-0-0). The loss against the Sens and the Devils’ top position on the boards were not enough to bring the Stars out of their sleep, losing 3-0 (a PPG by Palmieri, a goal by Coleman and one from Dea). There were a couple of opportunities for the Stars, and they either let it slip (mostly during power plays), shot wide (Jason Spezza had a few chances and we love him for it), or were denied by the Devil’s goaltender, Keith Kinkaid (who definitely stole the game last night. Hats off). The Stars also took too many penalties, which is never ideal, no matter how good your PK unit is; in the end, there were 8 power plays for the Devils, and 5 for the Stars.
Yes, it was bad. And fans were not happy. And with good reason. But it’s not so much that they lost but why they did.
The Bug (and other things)
We’re going to call this “the overconfidence bug”, or simply “the bug”.
These two games brought some war flashbacks to that last month of the 2017-2018 season where the Stars seemed to forget how to play and missed the playoffs. We’ve mentioned this before, and they seem to still fall into a comfortable position whenever they have a good streak. It’s especially sad that this still happens when they go on the road (they caught the bug too many times on the road last season). Our season leaders so far (Radulov, Seguin, Benn, Klingberg, and Carrick) failed to bring the fire to the rink these last two games, which leads us to another problem: depth scoring.
The top line did its thing through the first games, and Devin Shore opened the scored for the season. We also have a goal from Faksa and one from Carrick. Players outside the top line are trying, with the overall number of shots per game being pretty high, but they have yet to score. This is a problem that should have been solved during the offseason, but it wasn’t; and now they have to find a way to fix it.
Having this happen during the first weeks of the season – and with a new coach – proves that there’s still something within the team that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. On the bright side, there’s still time to learn from these mistakes and make the necessary adjustments, whether it’s new lines and pairings (though the thing here is, there should be enough time for new lines and pairings to adjust, but also chemistry is key), new strategies, or learning to shake-off the “it’s a weak team, we’ll be fine”/”we’re winning, it’s ok” mentality. Hey boys, the other teams are watching, and they will take advantage of that.
“Luckily, it’s early in the season, and it’s just two games, but we’ve got some stuff to figure out. That spark isn’t there like it is at home. We’ve got to figure out why”.
The Stars are back home for three games (Minnesota Wild, LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks) before a second – and longer – road trip (Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, Washington, Boston, and Columbus).
Photo by: NHL