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Dallas Stars Start Strong (Somewhat)

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It’s just three games, but after waiting all summer it’s enough. Sure, early stats come with a large pinch of salt, but it’s worth looking at a few key numbers to better understand Dallas’ start.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars
Dallas’ star center has been worth every penny so far this season.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Dallas Stars played their third game of the young season. A 7-4 loss to the vibrant Toronto Maple Leafs. Thankfully, that loss was preceded by a pair of emphatic victories (3-0 against Arizona, 5-1 against the Winnipeg Jets). All in all, Stars fans must be happy with the way 2018-2019 has kicked off, but what have they learned? While it is likely too early to draw any serious conclusions, there are a couple of interesting statistics to consider. As the season grinds on some might turn into larger storylines, while others will prove flukes. Think of this as a warmup, then, one writer getting into a rhythm.

How’s this for following a theme? Number 3, John Klingberg, has started the season on a torrid scoring pace. Dallas’ do-everything, number 1 defender has 2 goals and an assist thus far. Both goals have come at even strength, while the assist was a product of Dallas’ so-far scorching power play. So far Klingberg has seen an average of 25:42 per night, nearly two minutes higher than last seasons 24:04. Not bad.

A 103.8 PDO is something of a downer, as is Klingberg’s 46.6 Corsi (EV). Should those trends continue over the course of the entire season, Dallas is going to be in a little bit of trouble. That said, stats like Corsi are particularly susceptible to sample size, so at this stage, both are much more “oh” than “oh no.” Check back in a month.

Next turn your attention to the Stars’ big trio: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov. Last season’s uber-line has hit the ground running. The three are tied for the team lead in goals with 3-apiece, while Seguin leads the squad in assists (5) and total points (8). Radulov (7) and Benn (6) are not far behind. Seguin’s start is particularly encouraging. After a late-summer contract drama, the Stars’ top pivot sits two points behind Auston Matthews for the NHL’s scoring lead. Fans have to hope this is a trend that continues.

He isn’t another 3, but Miro Heiskanen (#4) is worth mentioning. Dallas’ all-world rookie hasn’t just played in all three games, he’s featured prominently. Against Arizona, the 19-year old played 19:35, that number bumped up to 20:52 against the Jets, and finally to 23:51 against the Leafs. The young Finn has be credited with 1 assist, 8 shots, 2 PIMs, 1 block, and 1 hit. He’s done so without being overly sheltered (59% D-zone starts) and is not benefiting from any odd luck (99.6 PDO). Finally, his 52.9% CF (ev) is second only to Tyler Seguin (55.9%). Yikes on bikes do the Stars appear to have a player on their hands.

Three other fun numbers are Jason Spezza (2 assists), Ben Bishop (.924 sv% / 2.34 GAA / 1 shutout), and Devin Shore (1 goal). Dallas is going to need continued contributions from that trio in order to compete in a crowded Western Conference. Spezza, in particular, has found himself back on the first power play, and if Dallas’ 50% conversion rate is any indication, the move is working.

Dialing in on luck, three less fun numbers spring to mind: Roman Polak (108 PDO), Esa Lindell (106.4 PDO), and Radek Faksa (104.5 PDO). Those are brutal numbers, and an important reminder that the regression monster is always lurking. Lindell and Faksa, in particular, are critical pieces to the Dallas Stars playoff puzzle, and will need to be better, and quickly.

You cannot take the 2-1 start away from the Stars. In particular, the Arizona shutout and Winnipeg sparkling wins are strong early statements. That said, there are still a few warts. Fans have to hope that time will grow comfort in new coach Jim Montgomery’s system. This team is not a finished product, and as time wears on, will need to improve across the board, but there is definite cause for optimism.