The Big Mac Blog

How the Dallas Stars are so bad in this area is a mystery

Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn should be one of the anchors of what should be one of the NHL’s top power play units.
Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn should be one of the anchors of what should be one of the NHL’s top power play units. AP

There is no logical explanation how a professional ice hockey team ranks third in the National Hockey League in scoring yet has one of its worst hockey power plays. There is no logical explanation how a professional ice hockey team that features forwards such as Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Alex Hemsky has a power play unit that ranks 25th in the NHL on the power play.

That’s Twenty Five as in Good God. There are only 30 teams in the NHL.

The Dallas Stars are four points behind the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and of the many reasons why this team has coughed and wheezed through the season are special teams have been (es)pecially bad. The power play ranks 25th, and the penalty kill ranks 24th. That’s a good way to get a decent coach fired.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen deserves a decent portion of the blame for a weak PK, but it’s not his fault the forwards in front of him can’t score on the man advantage.

For a team that was supposed to surprise and contend for a top three spot in the West this season, this power play has to better than it was a season ago, when it ranked 23rd.

Stars GM Jim Nill added scorers such as Spezza and Hemsky, which should have made this power play unit better. The strength of this team is scoring, so the power play should flourish.

“We have new personnel this year but we should have figured it out by now,” Seguin told me last week.

This statistical mediocrity suggests that its the players running the point have to be better, or somebody has to get in front of the net and ugly it in. With the exception of Benn, their other “name” scorers are not the types of players who are going to go get it in the corners; they are going to wait for the pretty pass to one-time it in. There is a balance of skill and grit a good power plays has, and this unit has yet to find it consistently.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said: “We had a month where we were pretty good, a month we were pretty bad, and a month we were pretty good.”

That equals inconsistency. The power play, by nature, is a hot/cold thing but to rank 25th suggests the bad has far out-weighed the good this season for the Stars. It is a reflection of their overall record, 21-17-7.

If the Stars are going to make a jump in the standings and actually make the playoffs, they will do so because their special teams improve, beginning with the man advantage. There is no good reason why it should not be better.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof

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