The Dallas Stars got off to a quick start and were one of the NHL’s surprises in the first half of the season. They have come back to reality since the Christmas break.

In 12 games since the break, they have a 3-6-3 record and have only accumulated nine total points. The Stars had a 26-7-2 record, 54 points and a 10-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division. The Blackhawks have gone on a 12-0-0 run since then and have taken over the Central Division lead by five points. Despite the slump, the Stars are still in good position to make the playoffs. They have a nine point lead over the Minnesota Wild, who sit fourth in the division, and first in the wild card standings.

A major reason for the Stars slump is its play away from home. In the 12 games since the break, they are 0-5-3 on the road. They have only scored 21 goals while allowing 35 goals against. In those eight road games, they have allowed six goals three times and four goals twice. The power play has only put the puck in the net twice on 22 opportunities. The penalty kill hasn’t been much better allowing eight power play goals in 27 opportunities. The Stars have also given up two shorthanded goals while on the man advantage away from home.

Another reason for the poor play has been the tough schedule and the level of competition. The Stars have played 11 teams that are in the playoff hunt since the Christmas break. The team has lost six one goal games during the 12-game stretch. When facing better competition, it’s harder to come from behind after allowing the first goal, which they’ve done seven times in the last 12 games. The team is 1-4-2 when allowing the first goal during the mini slump.

The team has gotten off to slow starts, and is giving up too many goals. They are losing board battles, which is allowing teams to stay in the offensive zone longer and create more chances. It seems like opposing players are being given a lot of time and space to shoot the puck. The Stars are turning the puck over too much, and need to play better team defense to try and turn things around.

The goaltenders haven’t been playing their best, but in their defense the Stars have been leaving them out to dry and not giving them a lot of help. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen are a combined 3-6-3 with a .905 save percentage during the slump. They have allowed 37 goals, 26 of them have come at even strength, eight on the power play and two shorthanded. The goalies have had some pucks go in off of deflections in front. There have been too many rebound opportunities and loose pucks in the crease area that haven’t been covered or found by the Stars. The goalies have also let in some goals when a save should have been made.

There has been nothing special about the Stars‘ power play and penalty kill lately. They have only scored five power play goals in 30 opportunities (16.7 PP%) and have allowed two shorthanded goals. The penalty kill hasn’t exactly been on fire itself for the past 12 games. The Stars have allowed eight power play goals against in 33 opportunities (75.6 PK%), but they have scored one shorthanded goal.

The Stars have continued to produce during the slump. They have scored 32 goals in 12 games and are averaging about 2.67 goals for per game. They have 24 even strength goals, five power play goals, one empty net goal and one shorthanded goal. The top scorers on the team have continued to produce and rack up the points.

If the Stars want to turn things around and not be in a dogfight for playoff positioning down the stretch, they’ll need to find a way to win games on the road and straighten out the power play.

 

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