The Dallas Stars fell hard. Going into mid-February, they were destined to make the playoffs as not only a participant but a contender. By February, they were on pace for 101 points which would put them near the top of the Western Conference.
Going into March, which is well known as the most pivotal month of the NHL season, the Stars were 36-23-4 boasting a strong 76 points. Then not only did the wheels fall off but the wagon may have just blown up altogether.
In the months of February and March the Stars earned a record of 12-13-4. They snagged 28 points out of a possible 58 available. Within this time period, the Stars also saw themselves go 0-4-2 on a road trip that was a part of a greater eight-game losing streak.
This eight-game losing streak saw the Stars get outscored 30-18. The offense wasn't there except in Toronto when they lost 6-5 in a shootout. Unfortunately for Dallas that night the Maple Leafs just seemed to be on top of their offensive game.
It seems very possible that this extended skid that lasted exactly two weeks was the final turning point for the Stars season as they eventually won again but at this point it was too late to make a push. It's funny how in the final full month of hockey if you lose eight games in a row it tends to slap your playoff chances in the face.
So what happened? Something like this doesn't usually happen in any sport and this was no regular downfall. Who is to blame for this colossal failure or is there any one thing to blame at all?
Looking deeper into their schedule, nothing there seems to stick out. Nothing out of the ordinary is present as all teams play each other an equal amount and all teams see themselves go on long road trips as well as long home stands.
Although this isn't the schedule's fault, the Stars did have some troubles with it. In the months of February and March, the Stars went 3-4-1 against teams that were not anywhere near the playoff picture.
In the NHL there is no easy game or easy opponent but there comes a point where talented teams should step up and grab the two points where they can. Save your losses for teams that are clearly better but concerning teams that have been limping since game one, get the W.
On to the players, Seguin and Benn are the faces of Dallas Stars hockey. Every single time they are on the ice they pose an immediate threat to the success of their opponent. This season, Seguin and Benn have both reached the 70-point plateau and each have scored 40 and 29 goals respectively.
The problem doesn't seem to lie in the star forwards. However, the gap that these forwards have created in the scoring could be a possible factor in this downfall. The top four point scorers on the Stars are well above fifth best point scorer. 30 points above to be specific.
Contribution and consistency throughout the lineup is key to the success of a team especially when they are looking ahead to the playoffs. That's not to say that everyone on the team needs to score at least "X" amount of points but there shouldn't be a 30-point break in your roster.
The point gap also comes from a lack of depth in their roster. Three out of the four players that got over 40 points are on the first line. Seguin, Benn and Radulov clearly did their part but beyond that there is no depth.
On the second line, Janmark, Spezza and Ritchie combined for 74 points with 34 of that going to Janmark alone. Tyler Seguin has more points than the entire second line combined.
On the third line you find Tyler Pitlick who got 26 points and 14 goals this season yet Ritchie, who is also on the right wing, is on the second line with only 14 points and 7 goals. This could be an effort to balance out the lineup so that there is no weak group but at this point when you find yourself on the outside looking in, get your best goal scorers on the ice as much as possible.
From lineup questions to a basic lack of performance, the final quarter of this NHL season has been far less than ideal for the Stars and it is going to cost them big... Except when it comes to the draft I guess.
The Dallas Stars have been eliminated from playoff contention for seventh time in the last nine years. This wasn't supposed to happen this season but yet it did and now what kind of questions need to be asked going into yet another early offseason? There's a lot to discuss for a team with great talent but little results.