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Lightning Torch Stars In Stanley Cup Final Rematch

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It was an ugly outing by the Stars, another in a string of them in the past month.

Dallas Stars v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

A friend of mine and I were talking about life last night over a bottle of wine. Neither of us have had the easiest time of late. She reminded me of the old adage, “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” We raised our glasses and cheersed to feeling like we’re both living that ethos right now. And then we laughed.

It feels like the Dallas Stars are living that these days, and it’s not much of a laughing matter.

The thing about luck in hockey is that most good teams say that you have to make your own. Often, that’s by doing the little things right: strong backchecking, winning puck battles, trusting your teammates to be where they should be positionally on the penalty kill, not puck watching, and all of the other cliches players cite in their media availabilities on the regular.

Unfortunately for Dallas, they aren’t doing that right now. When one part of their game seems to be fixed, another falls apart. A team that’s known for its defensive structure has become unbelievably leaky on special teams. On the penalty kill, they’ve gone from a top five unit in the league to middle-of-the-road. On the power play, they’ve given up two shorthanded goals against already this season, half of the total amount allowed in a full season last year.

It’s not just that the special teams have become hot garbage of late, either. It’s the fact that this play seems to be doing the team in within games. It’s a goal against on the penalty kill that shuts down any momentum the team had with their even strength play. It’s a power play that can’t convert on five tries in a game to give them a chance to change the complexion of the game.

In a game where the Stars could have used a small dose of luck to not get run out of the building like they did, they just couldn’t create any.

What is very evident right now is that the Stars are missing something that was key to their unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Final last summer. If they hope to be one of the rare teams that makes an appearance there once again this season, they’re running out of time to figure out what that missing ingredient is.