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Dallas Stars: Mid-March Trends

As players have been shipped off and the season is mercifully coming to a close, what do the trends of the Stars’ underlying game tell us?

NHL: Dallas Stars at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After getting a chance to breathe and see what we’re working with post-trade deadline, it is time to take another gander at the current trends of the Dallas Stars. Obviously, the struggles in the standings continue and likely won’t get much better as the season wears on. With that being said, there still is a benefit in identifying some of these underlying trends as we approach the offseason and look forward to next October.

Have the young players inserted into the lineup provided a boost? Is Lindy Ruff watching his team slip away? Which players are consistently making positive contributions with the expansion draft looming? These are just a few of the questions we can hope to answer while looking where the current iteration of this team is headed.

Let’s get into it.

5v5 Team Trends

It looks like we can start with a little happiness.

The goal differential has been climbing since right after the new year. They hit a season-low in terms of their 5v5 goal differential on December 1st (-8.82 adjusted) and reached a season-high just a few weeks back on February 24th (+11.6 adjusted). I’ve marked the trade deadline here so you can see where the Stars have gone since shedding a few quality players. It’s been both sides of the hill since then.

The good vibes disappear a bit when looking at the trending shot attempt differentials over the course of the entire season. They have managed to creep back into the positive side of zero for just the second time in almost four months. After a quick dip post-trade deadline, the Stars have picked it back up over the last three games. Let’s look at another shot metric with some shot-quality thrown into the picture.

Not a pleasant look here, especially over the last month or so. While the Stars have been able to rise in their actual goal differential, the underlying numbers tell us a bit of luck is likely involved in that. Their overall shot quality and shot generation has been on a steady tick downwards.

5v5 Player Trends

Now that we’ve taken a quick glance at the team as a whole, let’s drill down into the individual statistics. The following is a look at the running total of 5v5 shot attempt differentials broken down by individual skaters.

Antoine Roussel deserved a much better fate this season and hopefully he is rewarded for his strong play by being protected in the expansion draft. He and Radek Faksa have been two of the bigger bright spots on the team this year not only in this category but in others as well.

Looking at some others, Stephen Johns’ chart looks about how you would expect it to look for a guy who’s been scratched for turnovers but also has really impressed throughout stretches of the season. He’s one of the more up-and-down players in terms of shot attempt differentials.

Two players who turned things around would be Dan Hamhuis and Brett Ritchie. Both had rough starts to the season, often finding themselves stuck in their own end. Both have driven play and risen quite a bit in their territorial play. Remi Ellie has stayed positive through his recent appearances as well.

As we approach the end of the season, guys like Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Esa Lindell will have to find a way to impress the front office if they plan on sticking around. Not only is expansion approaching, but Jim Nill will be feeling the pressure to improve the defense during the offseason whether that be through trades or free agency. If those players want to stay in the fold, they are running out of time to make good impressions.