The Stars are off to a wicked hot start. They are 3-0-0 with wins over the Nashville Predators (2) and Winnipeg Jets, they have outscored their opponents 13-3, and are tied for the lead in the NHL standings. Yet, there is one issue that has popped up during the first three games: penalties.
Dallas has been shorthanded 13 times in three games. That’s over four power plays for their opponents per game. Too much.
“We talked about trying to stay out of the box in the third and ended up with a bunch of penalties,” Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said after their victory over Winnipeg. “So that’s something we want to try to avoid going forward.”
The odd part about the penalty trouble is that Dallas has been playing with the lead for all but 10:10 of game time. It is rare to see a team taking a lot of penalties when they are constantly ahead rather than chasing the game. That stumped me and it also has DeBoer scratching his head.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Tonight was a little bit of a flukey one. But we don’t want to test our goalies and penalty-killing as much as we have. That’s probably the one area that I think, especially going on the road here, we’ve got to clean that up.”
The positive side of this is that the Stars penalty kill has been fantastic. In the 13 shorthanded opportunities, they have only allowed a single goal, which came at the tail end of a 5-on-3 advantage for the Predators in the home opener.
Jake Oettinger has helped to keep things tidy when needed but for the most part, Dallas has done an excellent job pressuring the power play and keeping the scoring chances to a minimum.
“We do want to be aggressive when we can on those trigger moments,” DeBoer said. “We want to be real aggressive. I thought it paid off.”
While it is tough to analyze team statistics so early in the season, the Stars rank fourth in the league with a 93% kill rate. They also added a shorty from Roope Hintz to really tilt the special teams in their favor.
On this upcoming road trip, Dallas will go head-to-head with some very talented power plays. Although they haven’t scored at a ridiculous 50% rate like the Colorado Avalanche, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins have tallied seven power-play goals so far this season.