I had a Tweet queued up Monday night. Right around the thirteen-minute mark I took a quick look at the standings, and bemoaned the fact the Stars would have an awfully tough time catching the teams ahead of them if they kept being so charitable with the NHL Game-Day Participation Point. I didn’t pull the trigger, however. Instead I decided to wait and see exactly how many points the Stars were willing to sacrifice.
The answer was two.
Despite playing their second overtime game in as many nights, despite getting outshot 38-22, out power-played 3-1, and missing their captain/defensive stalwart Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues were able to out-work the Stars in the extra frame, force a bad defensive zone turnover, and steal a win. The Stars couldn’t even commit a penalty to prevent the goal, as David Perron’s wraparound went in with the ref’s arm aloft.
The loss was the Stars’ seventh extra-period failure of the season, good for dead last in the NHL. It’s balanced against a single OT win. Only Anaheim, Tampa Bay, and Nashville have fewer. At the risk of piling on, the Dallas Stars have not only lost seven overtime games this season, they’ve yet to force a shootout. Next to lockouts and playing the Arizona Coyotes, Dallas in OT is as close to a gimme as the NHL has to offer these days.
Those seven lost points would put the Stars in fourth place in the Western Conference. Heck, flip even two games into the win column and Dallas is at least tied in the 7/8 slot (yes, games in hand, but I’m making a point here). Those eight OT games have ceded points to six Western Conference foes, four of which are in the Stars’ own division (LA, Chicago, Vancouver, Minnesota, and St. Louis twice). It’s a hat-trick of frustration: that they’re losing, who’s beating them, and how they’re losing.
Honest question, did the Stars look, at any point, like they were going to score in overtime against the Blues?
The thing is, this is not a recent trend. The Stars have been a bottom five overtime team since 2013. They were the fifth worst team in 2013 with six OTLs, second worst in 2014 with seven, back to fifth in 2015 with seven, and as mentioned above, currently sit dead last. Those lost points didn’t matter last season, but they kept the Stars home in 2014-2015. Somewhere in the multiverse, there is an OT-decent version of the Stars riding a streak of three successive playoff runs.
Stars fans have seen, over and over again, that it’s not enough to toss John Klingberg, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin onto the ice. While perhaps not as flashy as the power play or deciding which defencemen get to play, overtime remains a critical weakness for the Dallas Stars. If they can’t solve it, a tall post-season climb gets even steeper.