The Stars got off to a hot start this season. They were 4-0-0 before dropping their first game and 10 games in, they hold a 6-3-1 record, sitting atop the Central Division. A lot went right in the first 10 games, but the team is still searching for one thing: consistency.
“I think we’ve gotten off to a good start,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’re not chasing it like we have in the past. We have seen as a group, when our compete is at a really good level, we are a strong four-line team. When that’s not quite there, then we don’t give ourselves as good of a chance to win a game.”
The team has shown both sides of the spectrum over the first month. You can look at wins against Nashville and Montreal, where each facet of the game was clicking and Dallas was doing the little things well. Then you can look at the flip side in losses to the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
When things are clicking, the Stars are clearly the faster team on the ice. They win races, have more time to make plays, and seem to suffocate the opponents when they try to push back. That high-pressure style is something that Head Coach Pete DeBoer has pushed. But putting in the full effort on a nightly basis is up to the players on the ice.
“Mainly it’s compete,” Pavelski said. “Getting to our spots quick, winning some races, getting to pucks first. Getting two in battles, three in battles, and coming out with some of those pucks. When it’s just one guy getting there and the other guys are disconnected, that’s when we don’t have the O-zone time we want, can’t shut down plays quick enough in our D-zone.”
After 10 games in 2021-22, the Stars were 4-4-2 and had only scored 22 goals. This year, they have outscored their opponents 33-23. Their penalty kill ranks fifth with an 84.4% success rate. They have one of the best goaltenders in the league in Jake Oettinger, who ranks near the top in every statistical category. They have gotten contributions from all over the lineup, with only Colin Miller and Joel Hanley still looking for their first point. And they have the most effective line 5-on-5 in Roope Hintz, Pavelski, and Jason Robertson. Through 10 games, that line has scored nine goals, while allowing only one against.
Still, the process is something DeBoer and the Stars continue to harp on, believing that they still have a ways to go. Transitioning into the team they want to be will take time. But whether or not they are all the way there, competing at a high level and trusting the process will be key to the Stars finding consistent success.
“It’s going to [take time],” Pavelski said. “And even when you get it all, you can only draw up so much stuff. There has to be a will to win from the group and a compete level and that’s where it comes down to.”