Which is a little appropriate since The Great One turned 50 the other day. And that it took me 39 minutes to write this post, give or take several minutes.
Anyway, a few days ago, Brandon Worley threw out some story ideas for what to write about during the All-Star Break. One such recommendation was a comparison on how the Stars were doing at the All-Star Break this season and how they were doing at the All-Star Break last season.
After I pointed out that the NHL didn't have an All-Star Break last season, Worley basically accused me of being a smarta**.
Of course, I knew what he actually meant. So I decided to make this my next foray into this season long series you all know and love. Unless you're that other guy.
First, I gathered data from the terrific site, Hockey Reference, for the 2009-10 season and then this season. Then I created an Excel spreadsheet. Then I broke down the wins and losses to six categories for this season and last season through 50 games:
- Regulation Wins (RegW)
- Overtime Wins (OTW)
- Shootout Wins (SOW)
- Regulation Losses (RegL)
- Overtime Losses (OTL)
- Shootout Losses (SOL)
Then I created formulas that compared goals for, goals against, total wins, regulation wins, OT wins, SO wins, regulation losses, OT losses, SO losses, and points from this season to last season through 50 games.
Are these Stars for real?
Well, let's let the stats speak for themselves:
And now, a few observations:
The Stars began their franchise high eight game road winning streak in their 30th game of the season. It had stretched to five games after beating the Blues, 2-1 in the 40th game. And yet when you look at the comparison in points, the Stars had only picked up three more points this season than they had at the 40 game mark last season.
Furthermore, they only had 1 more regulation win this season than they had last season at that same point.
And then a few games later, they reeled off a five game winning streak that put them 14 points above the pace they had set last season.
Well last year in games 41-50, they went 3-7. This year, they went 7-2-1.
What also sticks out to me, aside from the 3 less losses each in the OTL and SOL columns, is the fact that Dallas is doing it with goaltending and defense. As the table points out, the Stars goal scoring is just three goals above the pace set last year.
Where they've really made significant improvement is in the lower goals against in surrendering 24 fewer goals. And that's even after surrendering seven goals each to Calgary and Vancouver on that last road trip through Western Canada.
Otherwise, they'd probably be near +30 territory.
But the most telling stat that should tell you these Stars are for real?
+6 in the regulation wins column.
No, it's not just a matter of getting those 2nd points in games where the Stars made a habit of only picking up the loser point. It's actually been more a matter of ensuring the games that even went to OT or the shootout last season aren't even getting that far.
And for the Stars, keeping that trend going will be key as they push to make these last two seasons without playoff hockey, an ancient memory.