Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Five Reasons Why the Stars Won't Make the Playoffs

I'd say its fair to say that with about three weeks left to play in the 2009-10 NHL season that the Dallas Stars are not going to be playing in the post season. I know that Marc Crawford is going to try everything in his power to put them into a position where they have a shot. And I also know that guys like Toby Petersen, Brandon Segal, Jaime Benn and Brad Richards will play their hearts out as if they have a chance. In the end nothing short of a Colorado Rockies 2007 winning 21 0f 22 and going to the World Series will get them in. Of course that's baseball, it was once in a lifetime, and the Stars don't have 22 games to catch four teams. They only have 14 games, and are now nine points behind Detroit. Here are my five reasons why they DID'T make the playoffs for the second season in a row. Incidentally, that's the first time they have missed in back-to-back years since they moved to Dallas.

  1. For the most part their special teams have been dreadful. Their power play all year has had trouble handling teams that pressure them and haven't found a way to counter it. They are rated 20th overall in the 30 team NHL at a modest 17.6 percent. The other side of the specialty teams is their penalty kill, and for lack of a more suitable term, not good. They get beat to the front of the net on a nightly basis and operating at anything less than 80 percent is poor and Dallas operates for the season at 76 %, that's 27th overall. Fortunately the Stars PK this season hasn't always been awful, just when they needed it to be great though it has been it's worst giving up 7 goals on 23 power plays for a horrid 69.6%. Normally you at least like your power play and penalty kill to add up to 100, the Stars special teams adds up to a dismal 93.6%.

  2. They have received zero goaltending this season. The Stars don't have a goalie ranked in the top 30 in GAA or Save pct. Marty Turco has carried over his disappointing 2008-09 season into this year and in his contract year has played himself out of Dallas. He's played so inconsistently that the Stars traded promising young defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy, the 21 year old Russian to the Atlanta Thrashers for an out of shape, injury prone, former second overall pick goalie looking to resurrect a once promising career. But since getting a shot in Dallas, Kari Lehtonen, who hadn't played in an NHL game since April 11, 2009 (And he should recieve room for error because of this) has struggled to get settled in an has a goals against average of 4.41 and a save percentage of .833. And I forgot to mention Alex Auld. Enough said. That's not solid enough regular season goaltending, even if you're Chris Osgood.

  3. They are playing this season with a defensive unit that is always a couple of pieces of meat short of a sandwich. Two guys the Stars "D' corps relied on to help their playoff run was Matt Niskanen and Trevor Daley. They were supposed to be the guys that got the puck to the Richards' and Ribeiros' from the defensive zone. With the presumed skating and puck moving abilities of a young Brian Rafalski or John Michael Lilles when Lilles first entered the league. Unfortunately they have had a hard time getting the puck out of their own zone, holding onto the puck at their own line, but most importantly they have a combined SIX goals, and 22 assists! Combined! More like a Lilles of the last few years. I think the disappointing play of these two this year hurt the Stars transition to Marc Crawfords' up tempo style and it set that system back. For the record I like Daley and think he can be solid. Great skill and skating ability. After watching a full season of Niskanen I'am still skeptical.

  4. They haven't been able to find themselves an identity. When you think of the great teams, they all had an identity. The Flyers in the 70's would beat your brains in, the 80's Oilers would out skill you, and the 90's Devils were going to trap you, smother you, outwork you and beat you, 1-0. Even if you are a mediocre team it's nice to have an identity, ask the Minnesota Wild, or the Buffalo Sabres. This year the Stars wanted to be an up tempo, run n' gun offense club that beat teams 6-3 and were tough to get through the neutral zone on. It didn't quite workout, Crawford had to adapt to what his personnel allowed and he never got the goaltending they needed in his aggressive system.

  5. They give up way too many goals. Defensively they get lost in their own zone way too much. There are only two teams, Columbus and Edmonton that have a worse goal differential in the Western Conference. The Stars have given up 27 more goals than their opponents and only four teams in the NHL have given up more. Too many mistakes in their "D" zone coverage this season, and that includes the forwards who haven't done a great job of tracking back through the neutral zone and recovering.

It's been a tough first season for Marc Crawford and the Dallas Stars but in all honestly I like where they are headed. I think this is a process and the evaluation of this team has been on going all season, and although the goal of Joe Nieuwendyk was to get to the post this year, it wasn't realistic with the personnel that was inherited. I know they haven't been officially eliminated but shortly they will be and then the focus can turn to what's important. That's future of the Dallas Stars.


AJ said...


Can you put a post up like this before every one of the last 14 games?

The force is strong in this one...

Phil K. said...

Nice assessment and dead-on, I think. It has been a dissappointing season. As I think back to last year, I'm reminded that the collective mantra might've been: "if only Morrow were healthy. Once he's back, we'll be back in this thing."

This year has proven that it's going to take more than that. Your HSOs on our defensive problems (3rd/4th-liners playing as 1st/2nds) are spot-on as well. We've got to shore up that blue line before we'll be turning tha' thing around on these Stars.

I'll be interested to see what moves the GM will take this summer. Of course, that all might be clouded by potential ownership change-over. I'm not wise enough to know how that will affect things. It certainly tempered the TXRangers' moves a little.

David said...

Like where they are headed? wow, what a statement. The team is in the bottom of the NHL in prospects, they have only 5 draft picks in the 2010 draft that contains 7 rounds. They have no franchise defenseman on the roster that can run a powerplay or run a penalty kill. Their two top centers are poor in their own zone and show no ability to commit to defense. Their best player (Richards) is a UFA in 2011 and they just gave Ott nearly 3 million a year for 30 points a year. This team has major major questions, they are stuck in the black hole of not being bad enough to get a franchise player in the draft and not good enough to make the playoffs. Need to follow the Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh path of being bad for a few years to accumulate draft picks