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Dallas lacking scoring outside Benn and Seguin

It's a Canadian Game


blog-0295482001417626503.jpegThe Dallas Stars made it into the playoffs last season by the skin of their teeth, edging out the Phoenix Coyotes by a single ‘w’.

Being the eight seed in the West the Stars were paired up against the number-one seed Anaheim Ducks and though they made the series interesting, they ultimately fell to the Ducks in six games.

So heading into the 2014-15 season, Dallas looked to improve on last season by bolstering their secondary scoring by being one of the most active teams during the summer’s free agent frenzy locking up former Ottawa Senators Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.

However, 24 games into the season and they have moved in the standings, but in the wrong direction, finding themselves now tied for second last spot in the Western Conference ahead of just the Edmonton Oilers.

So far this season Hemsky has just seven points through 24 games, and five of those points have come in the last six games. Hemsky even had a stretch where after recording an assist in the first game of the season, went 14 straight pointless.

Spezza on the other hand has 20 points in 25 games, which is pretty good, but that has been greatly due to the fact that after a slow start Spezza was moved up to the top-line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Spezza also has been seeing more ice-time than Hemsky including more time on the power play.

The inability to give the team some second-hand scoring comes somewhat of a surprise as during the final quarter of last season Hemsky was brought in at the deadline to play with Spezza and the two seemed to make magic. The two combined for 36 points in the Sens final 20 games of the season.

In an attempt to try and get Hemsky going head coach Lindy Ruff has started to play Hemsky on the top-line wit Benn and Seguin, who currently leads the NHL in goals with 18, in an attempt to break him out of his offensive slump.

However, Hemsky hasn’t stuck with the top-line and his ability to produce is likely why. Now Hemsky isn’t the only under-achieving Star, in fact behind Seguin’s 18 and Benn’s eight, five players have five goals and the numbers slide from there.

Entering their game against Toronto Tuesday, Dallas was 10th in the NHL in goals for this season with 69 goals, but that number can be skewed since Seguin has scored a league-high 26% of his team’s goals. In fact if you were to take away Seguin’s 18 goals Dallas would find themselves 27th in the league. Benn and Seguin currently make up 38% of Dallas’ goals this season.

Another problem that could be holding the Stars back is the lack of production from their veteran players. Shaun Horcoff, Eric Cole, and Vernon Fiddler. Each have all had years to forget and given their ages, they might be some of their last.

The age of three combine for 106 years and this season the three have tallied a total of 23 points in 71 games. The Stars recently traded away veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for tough guy Travis Moen. The 40-year-old had recorded one assist in three games this year after missing a large portion of the season with an ankle injury.

Last season Gonchar had his lowest points per game average of his career, not including his season in 1994-95 where he only played 31 games. So maybe the Stars need to be out with the old and in with the new.

What also hurts the Stars is the fact that sophomore winger, and former first round pick, Valeri Nichushkin has only seen four games this season and looks like he may miss the rest of the season after having hip surgery. Nichushkin put up a respectable 34 points in his first year in the league last season and even found a spot on Russia’s roster at the Sochi Olympics.

The team’s lack of secondary scoring doesn’t help when following a 5-3 loss to the Maple Leafs, have the worst goals against per game in the NHL at 3.52

Though things don't seem to be in Dallas’ favour so far it’s early and though secondary scoring has hurt the team, last season Alex Goligoski who finished third on the team in scoring with 42 points, was still 37 points off Jamie Benn for second in team scoring. Maybe Benn and Seguin are the saving grace for the Stars.

Follow me on Twitter: @Craig_Hagerman

Photo Courtesy of Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America


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