The Dallas Stars finished 24th in the league this season, just one year after finishing as the Western Conference’s top seed in 2015-16.
But what caused the sharp decline?
The short answer is defense and special teams. If you allow a bunch of shots, the odds go up that more will find the back of the net -- and the Stars gave up the third-most adjusted shot attempts per 60 minutes in the NHL this season.
That’s not a good trend, especially when it’s compounded with bad goaltending. But the even bigger issue for the Stars might have been their special teams -- on both sides of the puck.
Just one year after finishing fourth in the NHL in power play efficiency, Dallas plummeted to 20th in the league this year, converting on just 17 percent of its chances. Their penalty kill was dead last in the league, too.
WFAA wrote back in January that the special teams woes needed to be addressed. Josh Lile questioned how much responsibility rests on the coaches and how much blame the players should be getting.
Most axes were primed for the coaches’ heads, Lile wrote, and the poor season cost Lindy Ruff his head coaching gig in Dallas.
With the defensive-minded Ken Hitchcock back in the fold, the organization will expect a drastic turnaround on that side of the puck in 2017-18.
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