Dallas Enters the Break Playing Their Best Hockey
The Dallas Stars’ season has been quietly one of the best in hockey. Everyone expects Dallas to be one of the top teams in the NHL, and instead of applauding them for it, they fly under the radar.
With a 30-13-6 record and winners of seven out of their last ten and three straight, Dallas is playing their best hockey heading into the All-Star break. If the Stars can continue to play at this level, this could be the season they finally break through and win the Stanley Cup.
Of the players who have helped the Stars play at this level, Thomas Harley is at the top of the list. The defenceman has 29 points with 12 goals and 17 assists. His +16 is also impressive and shows the type of impact he has on the ice.
It’s a bit of a surprise that Harley has played the way he has, but not if you ask him. In fact, he believes he has another level to get to, according to Saad Yousuf of The Athletic.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” Harley said of where his game stands. “There are still too many mistakes. I still have another level to get to defensively and I think that’s a good thing. If I’m having the success and not playing the way I want to, that’s good.”
If Harley does have another level, they have a real chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
If one thing can improve for the Stars, it’s their defence. They’ve given up 151 goals, which is about the league average. Their +32 point differential is fifth in the Western Conference as they’ve scored 183 goals, the second most in the Central Division and third most in the Eastern Conference.
“I think it was just the opportunity,” Harley said of his recent elevation in production. “I’m a confident guy, I know what I can do out there.”
Do The Stars Have Enough To Beat the Golden Knights and Avalanche?
With the way that Dallas has played this season, it’s fair to wonder if they can complete the task of winning the Western Conference. To do so, they’d likely have to beat the Colorado Avalanche or Vegas Golden Knights at some point in the playoffs. Both teams are veteran-led and won’t be an easy out.
However, the same can be said about the Stars. This Dallas team is full of savvy veterans who know what it takes to win at the highest level. Head coach Pete DeBoer spoke about how the Stars feel going into the break. He had the following to say, according to Mike Heika of NHL.com:
“We feel good,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said before heading into a respite that won’t end until the team returns Feb. 6 at Buffalo. “We’re right where we want to be. We’re in the mix for the division and the conference with some really good teams, and I think we’re starting to play some really good hockey despite the scores and the goals we’ve given up. I think our game has been fairly solid and trending in the right direction.”
The confidence is clear from DeBoer, and it’s been contagious around the locker room. When Dallas returns from their break, they have a tough stretch. The Stars will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes,
Despite the team playing the best it has this season, they understand that there’s much more work to be done. Heading into the break, they’re looking for ways to improve.
DeBoer spoke about the plans and said the following, according to Heika.
“We’re going to take the break and really dive into the analytics of where we’re at,” DeBoer said. “We’ve shown that we can score. That’s not an issue. We have an elite group of forwards, but we can do a better job of moving the puck out of our end and in the neutral zone, being cleaner and being more connected as a group of five.”
As the season continues, expect Jason Robertson, Tyler Seguin, and others to continue leading this team.
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