We know that the Dallas Cowboys are a 3-5 team facing long playoff odds, with a potential lame-duck coach in Jason Garrett and a quarterback who is “going to get extended,” according to owner Jerry Jones, despite a lot of fans hoping otherwise.
We don’t know exactly who, or what, the Stars are yet. But thanks to this progressive, at least for the DFW market, ownership group and front office, we’ve seen glimpses of what the team could be under first-year head coach Jim Montgomery that has long-embraced the direction the sport is heading.
During the Stars’ longest road trip of the season, this group proved that it can trade punches with some of the best teams in the NHL and emerge victorious.
Dallas faced six Eastern Conference foes in 11 days, finishing with a 3-2-1 record.
Before the trip started, the Stars were 5-4-0 and had the second-lowest point total in the Central Division.
Since then, they picked up 7 out of a possible 12 points, giving them a record of 8-6-1. The Stars have played 15 games (one more than most Western Conference teams), but they are just a point back of second place in their division.
The Stars will host the San Jose Sharks (8-4-3) on Thursday night. On Saturday, they’ll face the Nashville Predators (11-3-0), who along with the Tampa Bay Lightning (11-3-1), have easily been the NHL’s two best teams thus far.
But, before those two teams come to town, here are three things that went right and three things that went wrong on that lengthy East Coast swing.
1. Hanging with NHL’s elite
The Stars started the season 0-3 on the road. But during this trip they picked up points against three likely playoff teams including the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
2. A strong backup goalie
Anton Khudobin stole a win against an uber-talented Maple Leafs team in a hostile environment and he almost stole won a few nights later in Boston, too. In that 1-0-1 stretch, he stopped 64 of 67 shots.
3. Heiskanen handling the load
He was a -1 by the end of the trip. But the 19-year-old averaged just over 23 minutes of ice time per game, in addition to notching a goal and two assists.
1. Seguin’s scoring drought
He still leads the team in points (14), but he’s in the worst scoring drought of his career. His 12-game streak ties the worst stretch in his career.
2. Bad losses
The team lost 4-2 to the Red Wings, the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, to start the trip. And while the Blue Jackets could be a playoff squad, the Stars trip-ending 4-1 loss in Columbus killed ended the team’s four-game streak of earning points in the standings.
3. Radulov’s health
He’s missed eight of the last nine games and the team really could have used his scoring presence. Although, per reports, he took part in a rehab skate on Tuesday.