The Dallas Stars have one of the best records in the NHL through 30 games (17-8-5). A huge reason for that is their ability to adjust and adapt both within a game and from game to game.
Dallas has found a way to stay in games all season long. They have recorded massive multi-goal comebacks in the third period, flipped the script when things weren’t going their way, and have a strong belief that they are never out of the fight.
“Within the game, you have a bad shift, you try to get that momentum back, play well, get the puck going north, play in their end,” Ryan Suter said.
That belief and buy-in have allowed them to remain one of the best teams in the league and continue to battle for the top spot in the Central Division.
“When we play the right way, we can play with anyone,” he added. “We have a good team. When we put it together, it goes well for us.”
Tuesday in New Jersey was just another example of this.
When the Devils pushed hard in the second period, the Stars stayed composed, weathered the storm, and eventually tallied the go-ahead goal with one second to go.
When Jersey threw the kitchen sink at them while chasing the game in the third, Dallas adjusted their game to ensure they were solid in their own end and then pushed the puck in transition when the opportunity presented itself.
They didn’t force their goaltender to be heroic or give up Grade-A chance after chance, they simply adapted to the style of the game and played the way they needed to come out on top.
“For us to get one there [at the end of the second] and then we were able to weather the storm when they were coming at us,” Suter said. “We knew if we were able to bear down defensively, that it would go well for us.”
The ability to adjust and respond from game to game is the difference between a one or two-game losing streak, and falling into a lengthy seven or eight-game freefall, something that a huge portion of teams around the league have found themselves in. But for Dallas, they have shown excellent resiliency and have been able to stop the bleeding when the time comes.
Through 30 games, the Stars have not lost more than two games in a row. The Devils were one of few teams to join them on that list…until last night.
“That’s the learning curve we’ve had. You might have a bad game defensively, give up four or five, and then re-focus and be ready to go the next night,” said Suter.
“You're going to get games like that,” Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said after a lopsided loss earlier in the season. “And that’s what we talked to our group about. Everybody has games like that. It’s always in the response. Good teams respond. You want to stop the bleeding right away, you want to get back and play a really good game the next night and get it back on track.”
Well, Dallas responded again after a heartbreaking last-minute loss in Pittsburgh, with a huge win over a very good Devils team on Tuesday night. They have shown repeatedly that they truly are a good team.