Struggling Stars Can't Win
The streak has hit five. Ever since the Stars lost Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro at the same time to injury, the Dallas Stars have not won. Benn was placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 14, and recalled Matt Fraser from the AHL. Fresh out of juniors, this player may be someone the Stars actually count on for offense.
In the span of a week, the Stars have fallen from 8th to 11th in the Western Conference. Amazingly, they sit only four points out of 8th place Colorado with two games in hand.
The problem is several-fold. They can't score without key contributors, they lack focus defensively at critical junctures. Look no further than when the Minnesota Wild scored 3 goals in 59 seconds.
All of this in the midst of some pretty brilliant performances from Kari Lehtonen and Richard Bachman. You can't help but feel the frustration come to a peak. When given masterful performances by their netminders, good teams are able to find a way to win.
The Stars can't.
Speaking from an injury standpoint, the Stars cannot stay healthy. Key contributors continue to stream out of the lineup, leaving the Stars depleted. Lehtonen was out for an extended period earlier in the season. Now Benn and Ribeiro. Brenden Morrow missed time in December. These can't be used as excuses.
That isn't to say the Stars have necessarily played bad, but they need to find a way to win.
"We had two good games, St. Louis and Detroit, where we played hard and didn't get results. And we couldn't sustain it," coach Glen Gulutzan said after a 5-2 loss to Minnesota. "It is concerning."
To put it bluntly, the upcoming games are critical to get back on a winning way. They play the recently surging Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday before going on the All Star break. After the break, the majority of their games are division games against the Ducks again, the Sharks, and the Coyotes. What's the best way to climb the standings? Beat those around you.
If the Stars continue to lose division games...well, just be thankful the gap is just four points at this juncture.
- Congratulations to defenseman Philip Larsen for scoring his first NHL goal on Saturday. The 22-year-old Dane also has two assists and is a +6 over 20 games this season.
- Defenseman Alex Goligoski continues to struggle this year. Goligoski was touted as a top-pairing defenseman with offensive skills when he was traded from the Penguins. He posted 15 points in 23 games as a Star last season. It has taken him 13 more games to hit that same total. Oddly enough, it's the same divide. 5 goals, 10 assists.
Stay tuned to The Checking Line for the latest buzz in the NHL! Check out GrinderThreads.com for the new TCL hoodie!
Follow Jordan on Twitter (@jckuhns)