Watching the Dallas Stars on home ice this season was quite frustrating for a reinvigorated fanbase.
After making the playoffs last season, the Stars stumbled mightily out of the gate in October. They posted a 4-2-4 record in their first ten games. At home, they were 1-0-4 in their first five. Three of those four overtime losses featured blown leads, a harbinger of how this season on home ice was destined to be: a one goal lead over Chicago blown in the third; a two goal lead and then another one goal lead over Philadelphia blown in the third; a blown one goal lead over St. Louis in the third period.
In fact, the Stars never really got any kind of home mojo going all season long:
December: 4-2-0 (their best month of the season at home, and only one with a +.500 points percentage)
In their home games this season, Stars fans witnessed nine overtime games. Of those, Dallas would lose eight. Their sole win in extra time at home was against the New York Islanders on March 3rd -- and was the last time they went over regulation on home ice in the season.
Of the 16 regulation wins at home, the Stars won eight of them by just one goal, two by two goals, and six by three or more goals. Contrast to the 16 regulation losses at home, where just three were by one goal, nine were by two goals, and four were by three or more goals.
Isn't reliving this season fun?
It has to be even more frustrating to see the home ice record when you look at the attendance increases the Stars had this season. They jumped up to average over three thousand more fans this year than last season, and it was their highest average attendance in a season since the 2008-2009 season. That was the year after the Stars made it to the Western Conference finals, and the beginning of the end of the Tom Hicks/bank ownership fiasco that ensued for the next several years.
*For comparison purposes, the lockout shortened season in 2012-2013 is excluded from this number, as the team only played 48 games in the season which is nearly half the regular season.
Not only did the Stars see their attendance jump, they also managed to accumulate the lowest points percentage at home since a lockout stole an entire season from the hockey world.
That's the frustrating part.
More people in the stands, and more frustrating results to show for it. The Stars' 51% points percentage at home was the 5th lowest in the league, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, and Arizona Coyotes. All of those teams were closer to the lottery than the playoffs.
The only reason the Stars even came close to a push for the last wild card spot in the West is because they had a respectable 24-15-2 on the road. That road record is actually better than the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, and Calgary Flames and exactly the same as the Minnesota Wild. All teams that made the playoffs this season over the Stars.
This just proves that you have to take advantage of home ice advantage to get into the playoffs. I'd expect this will be a focus for the Stars coaching and front office staff next year if they want to take the next step forward and become contenders in the West.