The offensive woes of the Dallas Stars are not a recent phenomenon. It was an issue before Coach Bowness and before Coach Montgomery.
While having one of the best defenses in the NHL is nothing to shrug about, something needs to be done to establish an offensive presence on the ice, sooner rather than later.
We’ve heard from Bowness, the players, and the media about generating more offense. SOG (Shots on Goal) is typically the first indication this isn’t happening during a game, usually, because the Stars are doing a little too much hanging out in front of their own net. There seems to be a certain comfort level found in the defensive zone; preventing goals and chasing the puck instead of moving it down the ice.
Even with an increase in SOG since the beginning of the season, the puck isn’t making it in the back of the net consistently. The players we expect to produce aren’t producing. Whether this is the system, the execution, or coaching is part of the Great Ongoing Debate.
As Mike Heika, senior staff writer of the Dallas Stars, says, “It’s never just one thing.”
So how do the Stars generate more offense that results in actual goals? Despite appearances to the contrary, there are actually multiple ways. I won’t go into detail but if you were to study these plays you would notice they all have one thing in common. They are to be executed with speed. As in quickly take the puck down the ice and in various ways, utilizing multiple teammates, end up with a shot on goal and then be ready for a rebound. Though simplistically stated, this is what offense in hockey should look like.
Disclaimer: I’m in no way indicating that it is simple or I could do it better.
What doesn’t generate more offense, is taking the fastest players on the team and giving them the least amount of ice time. This is especially true when they are the ones scoring the goals.
Why does this even need to be said?
Bowness is known for being heavily defensive-minded with a preference for veteran players. That isn’t going to cut it in today’s NHL. Veteran players tend to slow down as they get older and go through injuries. Ask just about anyone what the biggest difference in the game of hockey is from back in the day to now, they are going to say how fast it is.
The coaching staff needs to adjust to this reality. Getting the younger, speedier players ice time now allows them to learn and fine-tune their game before the playoffs rather than during. To be fair, speedster Denis Gurianov did have more ice time than expected during the Maple Leafs game.
With General Manager Jim Nill’s assertion that there will be no coaching changes during the season, one can only hope that trend continues and Bowness keeps an open mind.
Otherwise, it’s going to be a rough playoff run.
Featured Image: Amy Warner