The Dallas Stars are running out of gas at exactly the wrong moment. Their current six-game losing streak beats anything they put together during their awful October. Even worse, they’ve squandered home-ice advantage for most of those contests.
Interim head coach Rick Bowness is trying a few changes to help the Stars with their slow starts – among them, letting the team stay home and rest rather than practice this morning. But one of the biggest changes will have to happen to their spotty, nonproductive offense. And that’s a tougher nut to crack, as Sean Shapiro reports:
When the Stars are attacking, it’s not in waves; it’s in single-man pursuits or cycles that fail to create anything resembling a quality chance. When the Stars do get a quality chance, they tend to shoot right into the goalie’s chest, and that only happens if they actually connected on a pass that seems to miss its mark more often than not.
It’s both a player issue and a coaching issue within a Stars system that puts a big emphasis limiting the chances against. When you watch closely, the Stars often have their third forward into the zone – the F3, in hockey parlance – staying high in the zone, but he is typically already cheating back defensively, even when the Stars have the puck.
There are big questions to be asked about whether the Stars have over-trained as a defense-first team. But the biggest question may be whether Bowness is the right bench boss for this team at all. Even that issue is complicated, considering how he took over after Jim Montgomery’s sudden firing:
Bowness’ demeanor and familiarity with the group is one of the main reasons the Stars didn’t crumble after the coaching change. The Stars players have said as much, and at that time, they needed a calm, reassuring voice that things were going to work out no matter who was behind the bench.
The issue has become that Dallas needed Bowness to have another voice that he doesn’t appear to have – a voice that actually helps produce NHL offense. This is both systemic – you could break some of that hard-wired programming – and, in deployment, rewards those that are further hard-wired to defense than those mad dashers in Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz.
By sticking with checking-line players in key situations and offensive zone draws, the Stars are sending a frequent message that it’s more important to live to the next possession than to win this situation outright.
There’s much more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Matthew DeFranks puts things in perspective.
Should Stars-Sharks on April 2 be played without any fans, Dallas would play one game in front of 85,000 and one game in front of 0 in the same season. https://t.co/5ttRmUQXB2— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) March 11, 2020
Which Star got some love in the latest NHL power rankings? Look to the DENIS System for answers. [ESPN]
Around The League(s)
#Murder Was The Case
- Can the Chicago Blackhawks challenge for a playoffs spot? Last night’s 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks will help. [Second City Hockey]
- The Winnipeg Jets picked up their fourth consecutive victory, and a lead in the first wild-card position, with a 4-2 decision over the Edmonton Oilers. [NHL]
- The St. Louis Blues finished the game that was postponed by Jay Bouwmeester’s cardiac incident with a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. [NHL]
- And Cale Makar got the overtime game-winner as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the New York Rangers in extra minutes. [Mile High Hockey]
The Ducks took the opportunity to do something special for the folks who saved Bouwmeester’s life that night in February.
Why are some sports events less likely to be called off? The Centers for Disease Control have some guidance on that.
What the CDC says about why some sporting events are being cancelled while others are not https://t.co/x8c5MnhXVa— Tisha Thompson (@TishaESPN) March 10, 2020
Meanwhile, Nathan MacKinnon is still going to be out of action for at least a week.
The Avalanche will be without top scorer Nathan MacKinnon for at least a week https://t.co/t1PTVj7adP— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) March 11, 2020
Elsewhere, Troy Brouwer is down and Vladimir Tarasenko should be up – if the NHL doesn’t end up suspending its season, too.
Brouwer placed on waivers as Tarasenko return draws ever closer https://t.co/5s6Qu5EOmq— STL Blues News (@STLBluesNews) March 11, 2020
Which bubble teams will make the biggest noise during the last month of the regular season?
Wild-Card Roundup: Which teams have the best chance at earning a playoff berth?https://t.co/v5GeK78rAG— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) March 12, 2020
If you still love the Stars’ classic green-and-gold jerseys, you might flip for the color-rush concept in this set of images from eDunkelDesigns. Enjoy.