Inconsistency Plagues Stars During Season’s Early Stages

The Dallas Stars are still trying to align for 2016-17.

Inconsistency has plagued the team at this season’s outset. The team plays brilliantly one night, then their skill level seems to take a step back the next time they take the ice for an NHL contest.

“It’s early in the season, but we have some work to do,” forward Tyler Seguin said after his team suffered its third loss in four games, 4-1 l at Winnipeg on Thursday, Oct. 27. “It’s a learning curve for all teams. For us, obviously, there are a lot of (injured) guys out of the lineup right now. We are going to watch some tape and get better.”

The Stars, who fell to 3-3-1 on the young season, are still attempting to play at a high-level night in and night out. Still seeking their first two-game winning streak, they don’t seem quite sure of what style suits them on a consistent basis.

For example, the loss in Winnipeg followed a solid effort 48 hours previously when Dallas defeated the Jets, 3-2 at American Airlines Center. Previously, however, the Stars had dropped a 4-3 overtime verdict to the Kings on Oct. 20, and a 3-0 verdict to Columbus on Oct. 22, both on home ice.

This year’s schedule isn’t doing Dallas any favors, either. Of their first 24 games, they play 12 (four-point) contests against Central Division foes and only four against Eastern Conference foes (where an off-night only costs them two points). Last season, Dallas got off to an amazing start while playing 13 games against Eastern Conference teams and four against Central foes among their first 24 outings.

The youth-infused Dallas defense’s inconsistent play is making life somewhat difficult on their netminders. Antti Niemi was under the gun right from the outset in Winnipeg, surrendering the game’s first goal just 15 seconds after the opening faceoff, and facing 22 shots before the first intermission and 36 for the game.

Offensively, Dallas launched 39 shots at the Winnipeg net, but they were not of a variety that really tested Connor Hellebuyck. Their only goal came from Seguin on a power play, his team-leading fourth of the campaign a half minute into the third period that cut Winnipeg’s lead to 3-1.

Coach Lindy Ruff’s skaters lost the special teams battle, going just one for six on the power play, and failing to score on a five-on-three advantage while trailing just 1-0. Dallas also allowed two goals on seven Jets’ power plays.

“We had a lot of chances,” Seguin said. “They played hard. We competed, and we could have (worked harder) on a few more chances. We’re going to move on from this one and get ready for Minnesota [on Saturday].”

After visiting the Wild, Dallas travels to Columbus on Nov. 1, then hosts St. Louis (Nov. 3) and the Blackhawks (Nov. 5) before heading to Chicago on Nov. 6 for the second half of a grueling home-and-home series.