When Roope Hintz’s last-minute goal gave the Dallas Stars yet another third-period victory on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, something sparked in the minds of many fans and viewers: this team is for real.
While the season has been a huge success from the start, most likely believed things would slow down at some point. But in reality, it has only gotten more impressive.
With the win Tuesday, Dallas moved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games, 7-2-1 in their last 10, and improved to 21-9-6 this season.
Their 48 points are good enough for a nice cushion in the top spot in the Central Division, despite very good runs from both the Winnipeg Jets (43 points) and Minnesota Wild (42 points).
Before the season began, Dallas was unanimously predicted to land fifth or worse in the division standings. And why wouldn’t they be?
This club has missed or limped its way into the postseason every year dating back to 2015-16. And to be honest, the feeling around the city was much the same, especially after the departure of John Klingberg.
But Dallas has overachieved, and they have done so by getting up to speed on a new style of play under Head Coach Pete DeBoer.
To sum it up quickly:
- the Stars are receiving elite goaltending from Jake Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood
- they have the best top line in the NHL
- their 33-year-old captain is having his best season in a long time
- Miro Heiskanen has replaced most of what was lost with Klingberg’s departure
- the depth scoring has been pulling its weight
- 19-year-old Wyatt Johnston is among the league’s best rookies
- they can outscore or out-defend depending on the game
- they sit in the top 10 on both sides of special teams.
That is what we like to call a winning formula.
“The story of our team has been: the guys who are supposed to score have scored, and we’ve gotten some depth scoring,” Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “When you get that and you have goaltenders like we have, you have a chance to win every night.”
Yes, there is a ton of road left to ride in the 2022-23 regular season. But we are well beyond the ‘small sample size’ argument, and the Stars are only getting better. So if they weren’t already considered contenders to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports, they certainly are now.