GDHQNHL15_2pg-Dallas Stars 2

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zone and feed the goal-hungry forward group that is no doubt the strength of the Stars. This group also has a promising physical aspect in the form of Brenden Dillon. The 6-3, 225-pounder is an imposing figure, and he knows how to use his body to his advantage. In 80 games last season, Dillon dished out 167 hits. This was after the strike-shortened season where he imposed his will 133 times in only 48 games, good enough for a spot in the top 20 in that area. After these three players, the depth of this group is put into question. The big name here is 40-year-old Sergei Gonchar. There is still some hockey left in the 19-year veteran, but age is starting to take its toll. Don’t be surprised to hear a lot of talk during the season of the Stars attempting to acquire a top-four defenseman to solidify this group. Goaltending Kari Lehtonen proved what he could do last season when he is healthy. The Finnish netminder came away with some more than respectable stats as he had a .919 save percentage with a goals-against average of 2.41 in 65 games played. He backstopped the Stars to 33 wins while he played, good enough for seventh in the league. There is a concern regarding Lehtonen’s play in the playoffs. In his first crack at post-season play since the 2006-07 season, the 32-year old did not show the same consistency he did in the regular season. In their series against the Anaheim Ducks, Lehtonen had a save percentage of .885 and a goals-against average of 3.29. If the Stars hope to fulfill their Stanley Cup promise, Lehtonen will have to improve on the big stage. As insurance, the Stars brought in Anders Lindback to backup the oft-injured Lehtonen. If Lindback ends up laying on a regular basis in some capacity, it could dash the Stars’ hopes for a successful season.  Power Play There is room for improvement for the Stars’ power-play. Last season the team finished with a 15.9 percent success rate, good for 23rd in the league. The hope is that with the off-season additions of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, and another year together for the dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, that familiarity will breed success. Spezza should have an effect on the power-play right away. A crisp playmaker with the ability to score on his own, the 30-year old has had proven success gathering points while on the man-advantage. Last season Spezza accumulated nine goals and 13 assists, with an improved cast of characters, it is almost impossible to imagine those numbers not improving. With this group of talented offensive players, the Stars should at least move to the middle of the pack this season. Penalty Kill The special teams are an area of concern for the Dallas Stars. Not only did the power-play struggle last season, but so did the penalty kill. The Stars killed 81.4% of the opposition’s power plays in 2013-14. With that lack of success, the team finished in the bottom-third of the league, landing in the 21st spot. The old adage is that the goaltender has to be the team’s best penalty killer and Kari Lehtonen will have to be in order for the Stars to improve in their standing. While the team struggled on the kill, they proved to be a dangerous team to the opposition’s netminder as the Stars scored eight shorthanded goals. Jamie Benn led the team in shorthanded points, but he will be counted on to help prevent teams from scoring on the man-advantage. Tyler Seguin Glenn James/NHL/Getty Images Prediction In any other division, a team with this much depth at forward would be almost a lock at a top-two spot in the division. In the Central, they will fight it out for a 3/4 seed. If the team picks up another solid defenseman, then a higher finish could be in the cards. Scoreboard 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 PLAYOFF FINISH Conf QF (L) DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ REGULAR SEASON 40-31-11 22-22-4 42-35-5 42-29-11 37-31-14 POINT TOTAL 91 48 89 95 88 SHOOTOUT RECORD 4-5 2-1 7-4 5-7 7-10 GOALS SCORED 235 130 211 227 237 GOALS ALLOWED 228 142 222 233 254 POWER PLAY % 15.9 17.0 13.5 18.0 18.6 PENALTY KILL % 81.4 81.0 82.8 80.1 77.4


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