After tough start, Stars have been one of NHL’s best


Since Dec. 13, the Dallas Stars have been one of the best teams in the NHL.

That may be surprising to those who haven’t followed them closely. The Stars, after all, are pretty much assured of missing the playoffs.

But it’s true — the Stars are 26-15-5 in their last 46 games, a 102-point pace over a full season. And based on score-adjusted Fenwick, they’ve been the league’s fifth-best possession team during that stretch, below only the Kings, Islanders, Blues and Penguins.

It was the 10-13-5 start that killed their playoff hopes. The Stars were the 18th-ranked possession team through that stretch, and their goaltending — a position GM Jim Nill may still need to address this offseason, even though starter Kari Lehtonen has been better lately — made things even worse.

“We’ve gone on a pretty good run here,” forward Shawn Horcoff said earlier this week, “but we’ve had a tough time making up ground. Given the situation here, we really feel like we are going to have to win out.”

Possible. But unlikely.

At the very least, the Stars can look forward to next year. While it may not have surprised Nill when his team started poorly this season, assuming the goaltending can improve, his expectations for 2015-16 should be high.

Related: Nichushkin, out since November, moves closer to rejoining red-hot Stars