It's been a tough two weeks for the Dallas Stars.
They're on a losing streak that stretches back seven games. They only achieved points in two of those. A win on home ice hasn't come since October 14th.
Here's the good news -- it's less than 15 games into the season. This stretch on the schedule is pretty rough. But it's early in the season, and there is still plenty of time to get this turned in the positive direction.
The quality of competition the Stars have faced hasn't been easy during this losing streak.
It started with the New York Islanders, who have a pretty potent offense and an improved defense this season with the acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk from the Boston Bruins and Nick Leddy from the Chicago Blackhawks. The problem the Stars had in this game was that they tried to play the run-and-gun and couldn't keep enough pucks out of their own net to allow them to win when they've scored five goals.
Then they lost in overtime to the St Louis Blues, who are perennial picks for Cup contenders and always near the top of the division standings. A bad hi-sticking penalty right at the start of the extra time by Tyler Seguin was the Stars' undoing. The penalty killing ended the hopes of pulling the extra point out of this matchup.
Going up against the Anaheim Ducks since the Stars were eliminated from the playoffs by them was always going to be a tight affair. The Stars' best outing over this stretch defensively meant that the offense dried up, with the Stars only scoring one goal on the back of Antoine Roussel. Fortunately, they were able to keep the goals against to just one in regulation to force overtime and pick up a point.
The second night of back-to-backs continued to be a problem when Dallas then traveled to Minnesota. The Wild have been consistently good this season, with a top ten penalty kill to compliment their defensive game. A lackluster outing by the Stars led to a 4-1 loss, tacking on another loss into the abysmal back-to-back record that seems to stretch back to forever.
The Kings have a way of being able to grind teams down and then leap on their chances when opposing teams start to press for offense, and that's how the Stars lost that one -- they couldn't capitalize on the same chances the other way.
The Predators have a decent offense this season going so far combined with an all-world healthy Pekka Rinne in the pipes. Allowing two power play goals to the Predators didn't help in the losing effort either, a problem the Stars have had all season long. Had they been able to keep pucks out of the net on the penalty kill, it's possible the momentum would not have swung towards the Predators and may have changed the whole complexion of the game.
Saturday's loss against the San Jose Sharks, another perennial playoff team, wasn't a bad showing by the Stars for the most part. Again, the penalty kill gave the opposition some momentum by allowing a goal and letting the Sharks get back into the game. They watched another lead evaporate and the game get out of hand in the third period.
The thing is, good teams are beating Dallas in this streak. But in all honesty, the Stars are beating themselves more than anything else.
They need to get back to the system. Most of the team remains the same from last year. They need to remember what they did that gave them success -- and remember that success is there for them if they get back to playing the system as a team. Everyone should be looking in the mirror and realizing that there are areas of improvement that can happen, at every position.
The only way they're going to get through the rest of this tough stretch is by working towards a common goal together as a unit. They've got a stretch of Arizona, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Chicago coming up that will be tough to get through, but they have to find a way to collect some points in these coming games to get back into a winning mindset.
"Sports is 90% mental, 10% physical"
Got to get that mental state in shape.