In 2010-11 season, Dallas finished with a record of 42-29-11 for a point total of 95 (and ended up out of the post-season on the final day of the regular season, as we all know). Those eleven loser points helped get them close to that number 8 seed. Unfortunately the Stars are on pace to only have 5 or 6 loser points at most by this season's end. So why haven't they been able to collect more than 2 loser points over 53 games so far this year?
I've gone back over the schedule to highlight eight games where the Stars could have hoped for a better fate than a regulation loss.
1. Dallas at LA, 10/22, 1 - 0 Loss: Tied at 0 - 0 much of the game, Jack Johnson finally solved Raycroft with five minutes to go in the game, and Quick was on fire, on his way to a third straight shutout. This was on a second night of a back-to-back, and the team looked stellar for most of the night. This one you could chalk up to back luck or a hot goalie, but down by 1 there's always a chance to force OT, but Quick was not going to allow it. Stars outshot LA, 28 to 24.
2. LA at Dallas, 10/27, 5 - 3 Loss: In this barnburner, the Stars gave themselves an uphill climb. After a Daley goal in the first, the Kings scored three times in the second period to take a 3 - 1 lead going into the third. Two goals in the early moments of the final frame by Ryder and Nystrom tied it, but the Kings pulled ahead once more at 13:08 of the period. Lehtonen was pulled, but LA got the EN goal. Dallas outshot LA, 33 to 29.
3. NYI at Dallas, 12/3, 5 - 4 Loss: Moulson's massacre (of the Stars). His four goal output was devastating, but all of the scoring took place in the first two periods of the game. Down by 3, Dallas stormed back to tie the game at 5:30 into the second period. A quick-strike goal by Moulson scored a mere 27 seconds after tying the game was not enough to deflate the Stars. But after tying it again late in the 2nd, Moulson scored yet another quick-strike tally just over one minute later to take away any momentum that might have been built heading into the next period. There was no comeback bid in the third period as neither team scored. Dallas outshot NYI, 34 to 27.
4. Dallas at STL, 12/26, 5 - 3 Loss: Bachman got the start in this one, with Lehtonen still on the shelf, and he did not play well through two periods. Raycroft took over, but STL scored first in the third to make it a 4 - 1 game. Nystrom and Ryder helped cut the deficit to 4 - 3 with 5:13 left on the clock, but Chris Stewart got the EN for STL, icing the game. Another uphill battle proved to be too much to overcome for Dallas in this one. STL badly outshot Dallas, 38 to 23.
5. DET at Dallas, 1/3, 5 - 4 Loss: Digging themselves into a first period hole, Lehtonen was the only reason the score was not worse than 3 - 1 after 20. After trading 2 goals apiece in the middle frame, Ryder scored with just under 6 minutes to go in the third. Pulling Lehtonen, they couldn't mount a comeback to force OT. DET outshot Dallas, 31 to 29.
6. COL at Dallas, 1/14, 2 - 1 Loss: After a late Thursday night win on the west coast over LA, the Stars played a Saturday afternoon snoozer against COL. Coming out of the gate slow (and never really getting their legs going), Dallas trailed 1 - 0 at 10:25 of the first, but stayed close and finally tied it with a Fiddler goal 5:26 into the third period. Sadly, Stastny gave his team the lead for good 5 minutes and 9 seconds later with a PP goal. Dallas earned a PP with 1:18 to go, but couldn't capitalize on a 6-on-4 advantage to grab (at least) a loser point. COL outshot Dallas 23 to 22.
7. Dallas at STL, 1/16, 1 - 0 Loss: A near carbon copy (on the scoresheet) of the 1 - 0 loss to LA, no scoring in this one until Oshie scored midway through the final stanza. Lehtonen was stellar throughout and was the reason the game was close. Unfortunately, Halak came out the victor in this contest. STL outshot Dallas, 32 to 22.
8. TB at Dallas, 1/20, 2 - 1 Loss: This one reads a lot like the game against COL on 1/14; a first period tally by the opponent, a third period goal to tie things up, a quick-strike goal 2:14 later to give TB the lead for good. Dallas outshot TB 28 to 22.
So, what does this small sample of close losses tell us?
More often than not, the Stars put themselves in a position for failure. By coming out sluggish and falling behind by one or multiple goals, it is hard to push for a comeback because it is expending a lot of physical and mental energy. However, in these eight games when they did tie the score, they couldn't capture the lead, and a large number of time allowed quick-strike goals within (approximately) five minutes of scoring an equalizer. The team must find a way to be as aggressive in the offensive zone once the score is tied as they were when they were vying for the comeback and NOT allow themselves to be dominated by taking a shift or two off, leading directly to goals against.
Goaltending is a big reason why many of these games were winnable at all, but the Stars have had trouble being clutch down the stretch offensively in order to capitalize on that fact.
The positive in this is that the Stars rarely falter and allow a team to comeback and have to settle for a loser point. But it would be nice to translate more of the regulation losses into a loser point. The good news is that of the eight times that Dallas has made it past the 60 minute mark, they've won 6 and only lost 2. That is another reason why there haven't been as many loser points going around, because they've translated those opportunities directly into wins, which is a very good thing.
Give me your thoughts on this matter if you'd like.