The Dallas Stars — a chic Cup contender pick after their ballyhooed offseason — are off to an 0-1-1 start to the year and, to hear head coach Lindy Ruff explain it, the lack of wins correlates to the play of their best players.
“I think our top guys have struggled, and it’s probably hurt us more than anything,” Ruff said following a 4-1 loss to Nashville over the weekend, per the Morning-News. “If they’re going well, we’re going to win. They’ve had a little bit of a tough preseason, and I think we’re seeing a little bit of that still now.”
Captain Jamie Benn is pointless thus far with a minus-3 rating. Same goes for Tyler Seguin (no points, minus-3). Top d-man Alex Goligoski is a team-worst minus-5, but it must be mentioned the trio wasn’t solely responsible for the lopsided nature of the Preds game; in fact, Benn and Seguin finished with positive possession metrics.
Which brings us to the goaltending.
Kari Lehtonen hasn’t been great and, per the Morning-News’ Mike Heika, “has looked shaky through the end of training camp and in the season opener.” The Stars turned to ex-Lightning backup Anders Lindback for the Nashville tilt and, after a solid first 40 minutes, Lindback looked shaky in the third, allowing two goals in less than two minutes — one of which was this short-sider from Eric Nystrom:
(Brough mentioned Lindback as one of Dallas’ risk factors for the upcoming campaign, by the way.)
With none of his top guns firing, Ruff says the Stars need to get things turned around quickly. Dallas has a pair of tough road games this week — on Tuesday against the undefeated Blue Jackets, Thursday against the Penguins — and will close out the month of October with a pair of difficult home dates against the Blues and Ducks.