Despite the mini-losing streak that the Stars are currently on, there is plenty to be positive about regarding this team. The future of the defense looks bright, the offense, on average, is clicking much more than it used to, and the Stars are right in the thick of things for the race to the playoffs.
However, no one will deny that there is plenty of work to be done, especially if the Stars hope to reach the postseason this year. We've discussed at length the issues that come up. And while some of them are solved (penalties have been way down lately), new ones tend to crop up in their place.
But there is one thing that I have never paid much attention to until yesterday, and that is the home record.
Currently, the Stars this season are 5-5-1 at home, and will hopefully be 6-5-1 by tomorrow morning. That's not much of a home ice advantage. And with fans starting to fill the arena on a nightly basis, especially when compared to last season, it's more important than ever that the Stars establish some dominance at home.
This has been a persistent problem, though, dating back to last season, and it's something that Dallas Stars color commentator Razor Reaugh touches on in his more recent article.
The Stars started last season's home schedule with authority (If you only look at the result and not the path. - The, 'if you like sausage don't watch how it's made' analogy). They won 6 of the first 7 at AAC, five of them by one goal, but (And its a big 'but') they we're outshot badly in all but one game (Thank you Kari)
Since then they are a very pedestrian 21-20-3 at home. Yes, not a very tilted sheet of ice.
Add it all up and Gully's Stars are 27-21-3 on home ice since the start of last season. Good that they are over .500, but not exactly making American Airlines Center the 'Den of Dominance' now are they.
Better news on the road side of the ledger. Teams shoot for a .500 record away from home (Or some mathematical algorithm that 'appears' to be .500ish) so the Stars 27-25-3 mark, with all the flying and time zone disruption they endure, is more than decent - it borders on terrific.
But how to boost that win percentage at home? That's a truly puzzling conundrum.
The excuse last year was the antiseptic atmosphere at AAC. The sea of empty grey seats and hollow acoustics were said to be a buzzkill. But that changed after Tom Gaglardi bought the team, reduced ticket prices, poured money into sales and marketing and gave a mandate to fill the building again. So the ambience crutch has been removed. Fans are trying hard to do their part.
To be honest, the road record really surprises me. If you add in that most of the 2nd night of back-to-backs are on the road, that makes the rest of their road record downright incredible. Of course, I would love it if they started winning some of those, too, but I digress...
So what is the best way to really take the home ice advantage back? Razor has multiple suggestions, but there is one that I think would have the largest effect on the fans, whether or not it results in wins.
1) Start better
- Every road team says the same thing; 'take the crowd out of it.' Too many games its the Stars who are 'surviving' the first dozen shifts of home games. They've scored 11 first period goals in the 11 home games played. Not exactly 'takin it to em' and proof that the Stars might want to ratchet up their early attack, maybe shorten that bench quicker, find ways to engage the patrons with their opening 10 minutes at AAC, and force opponents onto their heels, if not a knee. Proactive, not reactive.
There have been times this season, both at home and on the road, that the Stars have seemingly come out flat to start the game. They hold their own, but it takes them a period or longer to really start displaying some energy. By that time, the crowd is sitting and patiently waiting for something to happen. And it's usually quiet until then.
If they come out with a bit more gusto to start the game, the fans can get involved sooner, and they can feed off of each other, like a perpetual motion machine of awesome.
I know Dallas fans are ready to see this team make the playoffs again. You can hear it whenever the Stars are playing well at home. It seems like it has been louder in the last while than it has been in several years. All they need now is a good excuse to get rowdy when the puck first drops.
The Stars can give them that chance tonight when they face off against the Ducks.
Coming up in today's links: Some more game day notes, Dallas Stars twitter is at it again, and a unique video of a glow in the dark hockey player.
- Mark Stepneski has his game preview, including a stats matchup between the teams. [Stars Inside Edge]
- If you're on twitter at all, you know the players this season have been handing out free tickets with the #powerplaygiveaway competition. Yesterday, someone was disqualified from the competition, and you won't believe who. It even prompted the Stars to respond. Follow these links in order. [Stars Inside Edge/Twitter]
- He might not be the most popular guy in Dallas because of the loss the other night, but the Predators' Rich Clune (a former Stars prospect) has earned my respect. He's had a long road to get to where he is today, and it wasn't easy. [ESPN]
- I always enjoy these stories about the emergency back up goalies getting their chance to be in an NHL game. Even if they ride the pine the whole time, it's still awesome. [Puck Daddy]
- Buffalo is about ready to sell off some pieces this season. They went on a spending spree a while back, and it just never paid off for them. Now they are facing the question of rebuilding. (Side note: Remember when a lot of Stars fans were upset we didn't try and sign Ville Leino to a lucrative contract in FA? Just goes to show you never know how things will work out.) [Sports Illustrated]
- The Stars aren't the only team with issues in the Western Conference, and that's a bit of a relief. The Red Wings lost to the flames last night 5-2. [Globe And Mail]
- Leafs fans want Jake Gardiner up in the NHL and playing on their team. That's fine with me, except the whole revolution of #FreeJakeGardiner was started by Jake's agent. If I'm Toronto, that's not going to encourage me to call him up anytime soon. [Globe And Mail]
- Ovechkin used to be an unstoppable force. A lot of things have happened to cause him to slow down a bit lately, but you can definitely look back to one playoff series and find the man who was the first one to stop him from being such a threat. Kirk Muller. [Puck Daddy]
- Boston's Chris Kelly is out for the season with a broken leg. That will probably spur on the Morrow-to-the-Bruins rumors. [NHL]
- For your video of the day, we have Tron on ice. It's a pretty interesting video, and you can click here to read more about it.