The Dallas Stars are considered a Stanley Cup contender and lead the Central Division, yet they don’t believe they have found their stride yet in the early portion of the season.
As the Stars prepare to face the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday in the second installment of a three-game road swing, they are still looking for that top-tier game despite a strong record.
“We’ve been playing some good hockey as a group, but it’s crazy to think how much better we can play,” center Tyler Seguin told the team’s website. “The room for improvement is really big and that’s what you’ve got to be excited about. We’re finding ways to get points and we haven’t even come close to hitting that stride.”
The Stars snapped a two-game losing skid when they scored five unanswered goals in Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The game was indicative of their forward depth. Dallas boasts a third line of Seguin, Matt Duchene and Mason Marchment, and that trio ripped apart the Blue Jackets. Duchene collected one goal in a three-point outing, Seguin notched one goal and one assist and Marchment tallied once.
Duchene, who was signed shortly after the Nashville Predators bought out his contract in the summer, has given an already strong Dallas team even more power.
“He’s driving play for us right now,” coach Pete DeBoer said of Duchene. “He’s been our best player for a few weeks. Every time he hits the ice, he’s demanding the puck and he’s attacking the middle of the ice and holes in the defense and creating room for other people. He’s playing at a high level right now.”
The Jets struggled at the start of the season, but a three-game winning streak (and a 6-1-2 run) capped by Thursday’s 6-3 win over Nashville to kick off a five-game homestand has them one point behind Dallas, albeit with one more game played.
The Jets may not have the Stars’ depth, but their stars are shining brightly. Kyle Connor collected a hat trick in a four-point outing against Nashville — giving him five goals in a two-game stretch — while Mark Scheifele collected four assists and has seven points in the past two outings. The third part of their line, Alex Iafallo, has netted six points in two games.
The offense, according to the coaching staff, is not even the most impressive part of their game of late.
“When they come to the bench, it’s their teammates talking about the backcheck. They’re not talking about the goal,” associate coach Scott Arniel said. “That’s the big part of it and that’s when you know you’ve got the buy in, and everybody is excited about how these goals are coming.”
Winnipeg’s second line is being led by Cole Perfetti, who has a five-game point streak in which he has posted two goals and six points.
Winnipeg’s success is coming from playing a quicker game than when the season began.
“We’re using our feet to create turnovers and we’re playing well in our systems, too,” Connor said. “That’s something we can always fall back on and know if we do that well, we’re going to get turnovers and have the puck more, which is obviously what we want to do, and have possession and create as much offense as we can.”
–Field Level Media