It probably took Stars head coach Rick Bowness longer to walk from the coaches’ room to the press conference area inside American Airlines Center than it did to answer the four questions by reporters following a sixth loss in seven games.
The Predators jumped out to a 3-0 lead by late in the second period and held on for a 4-2 win, sending Dallas to its eighth loss of the season. It was another frustrating night for a Stars team that has yet to win in regulation and has, as is tradition, struggled to score at 5-on-5 (13 goals, via Natural Stat Trick).
After the loss to Nashville, the Stars held a player-only meeting that lasted for 30 minutes. That was 29 minutes and 30 seconds longer than Bowness’ post-game press conference.
Q. Is a team meeting like that significant?
BOWNESS: “We’ll find out.”
Q. What the message in that kind of meeting?
BOWNESS: “We’ll find out. I know exactly what’s wrong with this team, and we’re going to fix it.”
Q. What do you need to fix?
BOWNESS: “They’ll know.”
Q. Are you in that meeting?
BOWNESS: “No, that’s the players only. We’ll fix it. I know exactly what’s wrong. We’ll fix it. See you tomorrow.”
One thing that will need to be fixed is playing with a lead. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Stars have been ahead for only 101:41 out of 742 total minutes through 12 games. Only Arizona (55:29) has been worse in that category. Dallas is also a sub-50% possession team, has averaged only 2.71 goals per game, and sport the NHL’s worst team shooting percentage (4.69%).
“We’re really chasing that first goal. I think that’s so important right now, getting that first goal,” said forward Jason Robertson. “Every team plays better with a lead, right? And unfortunately, if you don’t get that then we start to get a little desperate. Then unfortunately another mistake, it’s two then three and that’s just how the game went.”
Individually, it’s not been going well. While Tyler Seguin has bounced back nicely from missing majority of last season (4 goals), others are struggling. Jamie Benn (2), Alexander Radulov (1), Robertson (1), John Klingberg (0) are among the offensive leaders off to slow starts.
“We have a veteran group. We’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of years,” said goaltender Braden Holtby. “Sometimes, it just takes a little bit to get going. We’re confident and everyone’s been through it before. The biggest thing going forward is making sure we’re not getting too high and we’re not getting too low. We’re a little tense and that just happens. You go through that, you get stronger, you come together more, and you come out of it stronger if you put in the right work.”
Bowness says he knows exactly what’s going on with his team and the coaching staff will fix it. But how much time will be allotted to allow any changes to take affect? General manager Jim Nill can’t let this linger, and there’s only so much more ground to give up in a competitive Central Division without having to spend the second half of the season chasing a playoff spot.
“Things just aren’t going the way we planned. That happens,” Holtby said. “It’s a long season, it’s tough to keep that consistency all year through, and some games are just a play here and there and that’s the difference. Our job is to find a way to turn that around.”