This is unknown territory for the Dallas Stars and every other team in the NHL for the 2021 season. Some teams will thrive, and others won’t. Expect a team or two to play above their expectations and expect a few teams to play below par. Not only will teams be playing mostly within their geographical region, but the campaign has also been shortened to a 56 game regular season as opposed to its 82 games in previous years (only 59 in 2020 due to Covid). So where does the Dallas Stars fit into all of this and what would be considered a good season for the team from Dallas?
Injuries To Key Players
Forward Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop are set to be out until April, which is a massive blow for the Stars as these are two of their key players. Seguin posted 50 points last season and plays a pivotal role as a creative forward and goalscorer. Bishop was one of the best goaltenders in the league last season with a save percentage of 920. Conceding 103 goals in 44 games. Bishop only managed three games in the playoffs before injury withdrew him from the rest of the campaign.
Anthon Khudobin was the number 1 goaltender in the playoff after Bishop’s injury, and he must have done something right in the goal as he managed to help his team make it all the way to the finals. However, throughout his career (which has seen him play for 15 teams across the NHL, AHL, KHL, WHL, RSL, and ECHL) he has never really been the number 1 and has always been backup or shared the load with another goaltender for the job.
Khudobin is one of the top backup tenders in the league, so for him to step into the number 1 role until Bishop’s recovery isn’t the worst thing. His backup for the early part of the season will most likely be Jake Oettinger, who has played in two playoff games and saved all eight shots against him. The Stars will miss Bishop and his absence might cost them a few games here and there if Khudobin and Oettinger don’t step up to the plate. However, both have proven that they can and are ready to do so.
The Stars Need More Goals
The major problem surrounding the Stars last season was the ability to score goals. Their top scorer was Denis Gurianov with a total of 20 goals. They were ranked 29th in the league with just 2.57 goals scored per game. Some positive news heading into this new season is how Joe Pavelski and Miro Heiskanen stepped up to the plate during the playoffs. Pavelski averaged 0.48 points per game in the regular season, but hit 0.70 during the playoffs. Heiskanen was averaging 0.51 points per game in the regular season and improved massively in the playoffs to hit 0.96.
With the absence of Seguin for two thirds of the regular season, these two plays are key to how the Stars season might play out. The management and fans will be hoping their playoffs stats continue over into this season.
Conclusion And Expectations
Crazy to think a team can score so little and make a Stanley Cup run, without their number 1 goaltender during 90% of the playoffs. The Stars were +3000 to lift the cup during the first round of last year’s playoffs, so it just goes to show us how unlikely it was and it may be an indication of how unlikely it is that they will lift this year’s Stanley Cup at NHL odds of +2200.
It’s this simple: if the Stars don’t score more goals in the regular season then they most likely won’t make the playoffs. Unless they produce some seriously good defending and Goaltending, which means they will have to play out of their skin game after game, which is very hard to do in the NHL.
We do expect the Stars to score more goals this campaign, it’s something they should be working on as it is a major flaw in their game. They are also a very resilient team; they are hard to break down and never give up. It’s this very reason they made it deep into the playoffs last season and all the way to the final. The 3-2 second overtime win over Tampa Bay in last years final comes to mind when we think of their resilience.
Obviously, their goal for the season is to make another Stanley Cup final appearance. It’s what over half the league will be striving for, but what are they really capable of and what would they consider a successful 2021 season? We think the Stars are capable of making the playoffs and then after that who knows, most likely win a series or two and get knocked out. They would be happier to top their Central Division, make the playoffs, and win two or more game series in the playoffs.