The Dallas Stars followed up their 7-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday with a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. One of those was expected while the other one sends a little more of a statement of the level the Stars are currently competing.
After all, everyone expected the Coyotes to be in the Tank Hard for Bedard race this season. The Oilers, on the other hand, were picked by a number of pundits as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup out of the West.
Beating the Coyotes sent one kind of message. Instead of ‘playing down to the competition’, as Dallas has had a tendency to do in seasons past, they came out firing and took a commanding lead so that the game was never in doubt. Defeating the Oilers shows that Dallas isn’t an easy out so far this year.
And though they can win by outscoring you, they’ve got a defensive game to make it even harder to overcome any leads they might open in the game. Just check out this mind-boggling statistic courtesy of Matthew DeFranks from the Dallas Morning News:
Entering today, the Stars spend more time per game on the PK (6:50) than they do trailing (6:31). An absurd note that will not change after this afternoon in Edmonton.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) November 5, 2022
In fact, Dallas has scored first in 10 of their first 12 games in route to their 8-3-1 record. In all eight of those wins, they have held the opposition to two or less goals per game and they’ve won by 2+ goals. They’re 6-1-0 when leading after the first period and 8-0-0 when leading after two.
Here is a look at the % of time teams have been trailing or leading in total game time this season. pic.twitter.com/d53dXTcful— NHLtoSeattle (@NHLtoSeattle) November 5, 2022
The turtle is effectively dead.
All hail Sir Peter DeBoer, slayer of the infamous turtle. pic.twitter.com/GQuT716pwo— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) November 3, 2022
Basically, everything is coming up Dallas Stars right now. And it’s fun as hell to watch.
Joe Pavelski opened the scoring tonight, the lone tally from either team in the first period. He drifted over to the back door and was in the right place for Roope Hintz to hit his stick for the tap-in goal.
Colin Miller got his first of the season (his shot in Arizona was tipped in front by Ty Dellandrea for his first of the season, so seems only right that he got rewarded this time) on a really nice pass by Denis Gurianov, who realized Miller was hitting the blueline with speed. His bomb from the point got through thanks to some traffic in front.
Leon Draisatl would cut into the lead on the power play four minutes later, but Jason Robertson responded four minutes after that to restore the two-goal lead. His shot rattled off the pipe and past Jack Campbell, who had a very rough outing against the team that originally drafted him. He has now scored a goal in five straight games.
Just 30 seconds later, the captain Jamie Benn would get his first in route to a hat trick to really open the game up, making it 4-1 at that point. Though Darnell Nurse would score first in the third period to cut the lead in half again, it was the last offense the Edmonton Oilers would see. Benn scored 20 seconds later to answer for Dallas and then capped off his hat trick on one of the least enthusiastic goals you’ve ever seen. Benn looked almost sheepish that he completed the seventh hat trick of his career.
The Oilers are a top-five offense in the NHL, scoring 3.83 goals on average per game, and they were held to just two by the Stars defense. After this one was over, Dallas had a very similar 3.83 goals for on average per game, ranking third-best in the league on offense. But more impressively is the defense, allowing a smothering 2.25 goals against per game (which would be even lower if not for that 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers last Saturday). That’s the second-most stingiest defense in the entire league so far this year. The power play is clicking at the fourth-best rate in the league and the penalty kill is the fifth-best.
It seems like every way you look at it, Dallas is a top team in the NHL right now.
And yes, it’s still early. With just 12 games played, and 70 more to go, it’s still early to determine how many of these statistics will continue to be this good over the long haul. But as American Thanksgiving approaches, Dallas is looking comfortably in a playoff spot, and as most fans know by now, that’s an important milestone to hit. Not many teams that are out of a playoff spot by more than a handful of points at that time of the year have gone on to make it into the postseason.
Dallas will finish off their road trip with a tilt against the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre on Tuesday night. The Jets beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 earlier Saturday.