Dallas Stars: Fall Short of 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Dallas Stars came into the 2021 NHL season with high expectations after making the Stanley Cup Final last year in the bubble in Edmonton. But those expectations fell just short as the Stars fell four points short of the Nashville Predators for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. So what went wrong?
The Stars season was set to begin on Jan. 12 but due to a COVID outbreak within the organization, they wouldn’t start for another 10 days. 17 players on the team ended up testing positive for the virus, postponing the first four scheduled games of the year.
Then just a month later, after only 12 games played in a 56 game season, another delay in the schedule happened. A winter storm swept through the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex causing power outages across the area. The Stars did not play for another nine days as four more games were postponed.
This caused the NHL to have to readjust the schedule for a second time and it would be brutal. The Stars ended up playing 44 games in 78 days. They didn’t have more than a day off between games for the last 40 games. Probably the most difficult stretch of games the league has ever seen.
If having to play a lot of games in very few days wasn’t difficult enough, imagine having to do it without your three best forwards. Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, and Roope Hintz all missed significant time this season.
Tyler Seguin, the Stars most dynamic player, missed the first 51 games of the season recovering from offseason hip surgery that he suffered in the playoffs last year.
Alexander Radulov, a staple on the top line, missed 45 games this season. His injury was a real turning point in the season in early February.
Roope Hintz missed 15 games this season. Hintz suffered a hip injury during the season causing him to be a game time decision every night during the second half of the season. He still finished third on the team in points, averaging over a point a game.
Having those tired legs during a tough schedule and missing key offensive players was definitely noticeable throughout the season. Fortunately the defense stayed healthy as the Stars finished eighth in the NHL in goals against. But the offense was hard to come by as they finished 18th in goals scored.
The Dallas Stars were no stranger to overtime games this year. The team battled time and time again through fatigue and lack of offensive scoring to find themselves within a goal of winning most games. Unfortunately they were on the wrong end most nights.
The Stars led the NHL with 14 overtime or shootout losses. That’s 14 points left on the table at the end of the season. Obviously they aren’t going to go undefeated in those games. But when you miss out on the playoffs by four points, those games become more magnified. Also five of those 14 losses came against the Nashville Predators.
The teams that make a run each year, in any sport, need some luck along the way. Things just didn’t go the Stars way this year. With the delayed start, the injuries, the fatigue, it is incredible this team was in the hunt as long as they were.
Next year looks to be more promising as the urgency to win will be ramped up next season. This offseason will be very interesting for the Stars with free agency and the expansion draft looming for the new NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken. Expect a bounce back campaign from the Dallas Stars in 2022.
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You can follow Tyler Samsel on Twitter @tylersamsel.