Saturday night’s game in Phoenix brought the Dallas Stars to the midway point of their season and they stand at 12-10-2, ranking 10th in the Western Conference in points and ninth in points percentage through Sunday’s games.
The Stars are two points out of eighth place and two points out fifth of place. They are just three points behind fourth place Detroit. In other words, at the midway point of the season the race for the top eight in the Western Conference is incredibly tight.
Outside of Chicago and Anaheim, who both have created some separation from the rest of the pack, the rest of the West is pretty well bunched together. Detroit has 29 points, five teams – Minnesota, Los Angeles, Vancouver, San Jose, St. Louis –are tied at 28 points, Phoenix has 27 and the Stars and Nashville have 26.
“It’s going to be a fight to the end,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We have to maintain our focus.”
Stars show improvement in some areas over second quarter
The Stars went 6-5-1 over the first quarter of the season, and put together the same 6-5-1 mark over the second quarter mark. But they did show improvement in some areas.
Goals for/Goals against: The goal scoring was up, going from 2.08 goals per game (excluding goals awarded for shootout wins) over the first 12 contests to 3.42 over the last 12 games. A lot of that was fueled by more scoring depth. In the first 12 games, the top six forwards accounted for 76 percent of the teams’ goals. Over the last 12 games, 15 different players have chipped in with goals for the Stars.
Five-on-five goal scoring increased from 16 goals over the first quarter to 28 in the second quarter. A more productive power play helped as well.
Goals against was a different story. The Stars allowed 2.33 goals per game in the first quarter and 3.25 goals per game in the second quarter. Part of that can be traced back to a stretch of games when Kari Lehtonen was not in goal or out due to a groin injury and the Stars allowed 24 goals over six games. The Stars’ save percentage was just .884 over the last 12 games compared to .928 in the first quarter.
Five-on-five goals against were up as well. The Stars allowed 29 over the second quarter compared with 17 in the first quarter.
At the midway point, the Stars were middle of the pack in both goals (2.75) and goals against (2.79).
Shots for/shots against: The Stars were better in both the shots for and shots against categories over the second quarter. The Stars averaged 25.2 shots per game in the first quarter and 28.5 in the second quarter. Shots against went down, going from 32.3 against in the first 12 games to 28.0 over the second dozen. After being outshot in 11 of the first 12 games, the Stars outshot their opposition in six of the next 12 games.
Special teams: The Stars’ power play picked up the pace over the second quarter, hitting on 10 of 46 opportunities (21.7 percent). It was especially strong on the road, where it was 7-24 (29.2 percent). The Stars’ power play ranked 11th in the league after Saturday’s games at 19.5 percent.
The penalty kill has been pretty consistent and solid for the season and it was at 84.4 percent over the second quarter after hitting at 84.2 percent in the first 12 games. The Stars ranked 8th in the league on the penalty kill at 84.3 percent after Saturday’s games, and it was fourth best on the road at 87.0 percent.
Discipline: The Stars made strides in the discipline area. After being a minus-16 in the power play opportunities versus times shorthanded category (41-57) in the first quarter, they were a plus-1 in the second quarter. They were on the power play 46 times and were shorthanded 45 times. Those numbers were helped that over the last five games, the Stars have been shorthanded two times or fewer four times. The Stars are no longer leading the league in the number of times shorthanded, they currently rank 26th.
Stats at the halfway point
Here’s a look at the Stars’ team statistics at the halfway point of the season, plus a look at how they compared in the first quarter and the second quarter. Rankings are through Sunday’s games.
|Category||1st quarter||2nd quarter||Total|
|Goals per game||2.08||3.42||2.75 (15th)|
|Goals against per game||2.33||3.25||2.79 (16th)|
|5-on-5 GF/GA ratio||0.94||0.97||0.96 (18th)|
|Shots per game||25.2||28.5||26.8 (28th)|
|Shots against per game||32.3||28.0||30.2 (21st)|
|Team Save %||.928||.884||.907 (16th)|
|Faceoff percentage||47.4||46.6||47.0 (26th)|
|Category||1st quarter||2nd quarter||Total|
|Power play overall||17.1||21.7||19.5 (11th)|
|Power play home||29.4||13.6||20.5 (12th)|
|Power play road||8.3||29.2||18.8 (11th)|
|Penalty kill overall||84.2||84.4||84.3 (8th)|
|Penalty kill home||76.2||85.2||81.2 (20th)|
|Penalty kill road||88.9||83.3||87.0 (4th)|
|PP Opportunities||41||46||87 (18th)|
|Times Shorthanded||57||45||102 (26th)|
|PP-TS Differential||-16||+1||-15 (28th)|