Five stats that illustrate Dallas’ woeful start


0-7-3: That is Dallas’ record against Central Division opponents this year — the Stars are the only team in the NHL yet to record an in-division win.

Repeat: The only team yet to win a game in its division.

It’s a dramatic turn of events for Lindy Ruff’s crew. Last year, Dallas kept its head above water in the ridiculously tough Central (13-11-5), which played a big role in snapping a five-year playoff drought.

As a comparison point, consider the Stars went 5-3-1 against the Wild and Predators last year, gaining 11 of a possible 18 points; this year, the Stars are already a combined 0-4-1 versus Minnesota and Nashville.

10: That’s the number of times Dallas has conceded five goals or more in a game this season (unsurprisingly, the Stars have lost all 10.) More concerning than the goals allowed, though, might be that Ruff suggested the latest instance — Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Jets — was the lousiest his team has been on defense to date.

“It started with our defense,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “It started in the first period with the first couple of shifts. We threw a couple of pucks in bad places. Iced the puck. Gave up a two-on-one on an easy neutral zone play.

“I thought it was the worst our defense has struggled and that affects scoring chances, our puck movement and our transition game.”

.890: That’s the Stars’ team save percentage, 29th in the NHL (the only team worse is Edmonton.) Dallas’ goaltending has been as troublesome as its defense this season; the team waived and demoted backup Anders Lindback after five lackluster appearances and replaced him with journeyman Jussi Rynnas, who’s posted a 4.57 GAA and .841 save percentage in his limited opportunities.

The lion’s share of the work this year has landed on Kari Lehtonen, and the results haven’t been great. The Finnish netminder has yet to provide consistent play and currently sits with a 3.10 GAA and .902 save percentage, and got called out by Ruff following Tuesday’s loss to the Jets.

“We needed save we didn’t get,” Ruff vented.

Two: That’s the number of goals scored by LW Ales Hemsky, who’s disappointed since signing a three-year, $12 million deal to join Dallas this summer. Overall, Hemsky has just seven points through 25 games and his 0.28 points-per-game average — the lowest of his 12-year career — has him on pace to score just 23 this season.

No surprise, then, that Hemsky’s been a healthy scratch as of late.

100: That’s the number of goals Dallas has conceded in its 28 games played, the first club to hit the century mark this season.

Comparatively speaking, Dallas allowed just 80 goals through 28 games last year.

Stars GM isn’t surprised by early season struggles

The Dallas Stars entered the 2014-15 campaign with some serious question marks, but it’s still fair to say that expectations were high for them after adding Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky over the summer. So far the Stars have an underwhelming 6-6-4 record though, thanks in large part due to a seven-game losing streak.

That start might have surprised some, but Stars GM Jim Nill isn’t one of them.

“No, I was worried about it coming into the season,” Nill told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “When you start getting better you have to remember how you got there. It’s a little bit subconscious because sometimes you take more chances than you should. Not really surprised where we are – it comes with expectations.”

Nill believes that the team has lost its identity, which is something Stars coach Lindy Ruff and him were concerned about going into the season. He also noted that he’s happy with his bottom-six forwards, but the top-six have to do more. Tyler Seguin has excelled with 10 goals and 22 points in 16 games, but Jamie Benn has just two assists in his last seven games and Hemsky has one point in 15 contests.

The bigger concern going into this season though was the team’s defense.

“Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski have been outstanding,” Nill said. “The rest of the guys are really young and inexperienced. You know there are going to be highs and lows with that. To be fair to them, it’s the way we play – you can leave them hung out to dry.

“It’s overall team defense. To be successful, everybody has to buy into it. You have to play good defense. That doesn’t mean you take away from your offense, but it means you don’t turn it over at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Of course the Stars’ blueline recently got younger when they traded Sergei Gonchar to Montreal in exchange for forward Travis Moen.

The Stars have some catching up to do, but at least there’s still plenty of time left to do it.

Stars’ Hemsky likely a healthy scratch tonight vs. L.A.


Ales Hemsky’s awful start in Dallas will hit a new low tonight.

Hemsky, who is goalless with just one point through 15 games this year, looks as though he’ll be a healthy scratch this evening when the Stars take on the Kings in Los Angeles.

It’s a pretty quick — and alarming — development for one of Dallas’ prized free agent acquisitions this summer; the Stars gave Hemsky a three-year, $12 million deal in the hopes of rekindling the chemistry he had with Jason Spezza in Ottawa (Hemsky had 17 points in 20 games after joining the Sens at last year’s trade deadline, with most of those points scored playing alongside Spezza.)

Hemsky has failed to click with Spezza this season — or anyone, for that matter. Head coach Lindy Ruff has continuously juggled his forward lines in the hope of sparking something but, prior to tonight’s game against the defending Stanley Cup champs, Ruff went back to the effective Spezza-Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin line.

Owner Gaglardi preaches patience amid Stars’ struggles


The Dallas Stars entered the season with high expectations after adding forwards Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza. Stars owner Tom Gaglardi was among the big fans of the moves GM Jim Nill made.

“It’s marvelous what he has done,” Gaglardi said in August. “I look at our club and who we have added to our top six in terms of Hemsky and Spezza and you can get pretty excited pretty quickly.”

That excitement hasn’t led to results though. Dallas is 4-6-4 after dropping seven straight contests. Spezza has done his part with two goals and 13 points in 14 games, but Dallas’ offense has actually been slightly worse this season when compared to 2013-14 (2.82 goals per game to 2.79 now). Of course their far bigger issues have been their defense, goaltending, and penalty kill.

The result is that Dallas is now in the Central Division basement, but Gaglardi isn’t ready to push the panic button yet.

“I just don’t think the record over 14 game is a reflection of the team we have been. I think we’re better than that,” Gaglardi said, per the Dallas Morning News. “The problem is you have to go out and find a way to do it. Your record is what matters in this league.”

Gaglardi openly admitted that the Stars’ start has been frustrating, but he thinks it’s important that he continues to trust in Nill and Stars coach Lindy Ruff’s plan.

“You can’t overreact at a time like this,” Gaglardi added.

The Stars will have an opportunity to stop the bleeding on Tuesday against Arizona.

Daley: ‘Frustrating’ that Stars have just one win at home


The longest-tenured Dallas Star is none too pleased with his club’s performance this season.

“We have won one game at home and it’s frustrating right now,” Trevor Daley said following Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Nashville, per the Morning-News. “You try to take something out of it, we were the better team and we didn’t get the job done, what do you take out of that?”

Dallas is mired in a six-game losing streak and hasn’t won at American Airlines since a 6-3 decision over Vancouver on Oct. 21. All told, the club is just 1-2-4 at home this season and finds itself dead last in the Central Division with 12 points through 13 games.

It’s tough times all around in Dallas. Head coach Lindy Ruff blasted his players following Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Kings, telling them “enough with the pond hockey.” The offense has produced just five goals in the last four games and has gone 0-for-15 on the power play, with a few individual slumps getting into worrisome territory: Ales Hemsky has just one point (an assist) this season, Erik Cole is scoreless in five games, Jason Spezza is scoreless in four and so too is Jamie Benn.

Daley isn’t sure how the Stars can correct things, but knows the team’s issues need to be sorted out soon.

“The way we have been going, it’s tough so we just have go to stick with it tomorrow in practice,” he explained. “We have to get back to getting things right, doing things hard and playing like we’re a winning hockey team.

“It’s frustrating in here so we have to find ways to get that out of here.”