It would have been difficult to go against Dallas in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at home after gamely surviving two elimination contests and getting captain Jamie Benn back in the lineup after a two-game suspension. But the Stars were outshot 16-7 in the first period of a 6-0 loss to Vegas, ending their season.
That kind of inconsistency led to the demise of a team that finished one point out of first place in the Central Division and was in the top seven of the league in goals for, goals against, power-play and penalty-killing percentage during the regular season.
There were many positives for the 2022-23 Stars, led by their younger players like Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Wyatt Johnson up front, Miro Heiskanen on defense and goalie Jake Oettinger, which bodes well for the future when you bet online.
“You can learn, obviously, every time you lose on what you have to do better,” Dallas coach Peter DeBoer told reporters. “I’m really proud of our group and the hockey we played. It’s a tough way to end the season when there have been so many good things that they’ve done.”
What Happened in Conference Finals?
Just like the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern finals, things may have changed for the Stars if they had made a play in Game 1 and/or Game 2 in overtime versus Vegas.
Ultimately, though, Dallas did not raise its level of defense to where it was in the regular season. The Stars were third in the NHL in goal-against at 2.62 during the first 82 games before allowing 3.21 per contest in 19 playoff contests.
Perhaps playing with injuries hampered some players, but defenseman Esa Lindell was +29 in the regular season and -10 in the playoffs while veteran rearguard Ryan Suter struggled at times. Oettinger had a .919 save percentage in the regular season and .895 in the postseason.
Oettinger acknowledged his lower-body injury from early in the regular season was never 100% healed and carried over into the playoffs.
Said he will “keep the pads off a while and work on his golf swing.”#TexasHockey
— Brien Rea (@BrienRea) May 31, 2023
Dallas followed a 7-3 win with a 5-1 loss in the first series with Minnesota and were outscored 13-5 in losses at Seattle sandwiching a three-goal win. They lost all three Game 1s – two at home.
The under was 36-19-4 in the first 59 games of the regular season, according to NHL odds, for the Stars and the last 23 should have been an indicator for betters. The over was 14-7-2 the rest of the regular season and 11-7-1 in the playoffs – including 2-3 in the last three.
Vegas and Seattle each showed more depth than Dallas as well. That is something that must be addressed in the offseason if the Stars are going to be among the top NHL picks for the 2024 Stanley Cup.
What Can Dallas Add?
Stars General Manager Jim Nill will have somewhere between $7.4 million and $8.4 million of cap space if he does not trade or buy out any players.
Improving young forward Ty Dellandrea is a restricted free agent and three veteran forwards are among those unrestricted, including Max Domi, Evgenii Dadonov, and Luke Glendening.
Domi played well in the playoffs with 13 points and Dallas may try to figure out a way to keep him. It depends on the price for the other two.
Max Domi is a UFA. He expressed strong interest in returning to Dallas, mentioning one thing he’ll be looking for in his next contract is term.
Domi: “Maybe get some more security and stability would be something that I’m looking to do. Listen, I hope that’s here. I really do.”
— Saad Yousuf (@SaadYousuf126) May 31, 2023
Tyler Seguin ($9.85 million for four more years) would be hard to move. Radek Faksa is a solid two-way forward, but the Stars may be able to get what he gives from someone at much lower than his $3.25 million cap figure. Suter could be bought out or moved if they feel young lefty defenseman Thomas Harley can move into the top four.
Dallas needs to round out the bottom six, which was outplayed badly by Vegas, and shore up the defense. The Stars may get one nice addition when Logan Stankoven comes to camp. The 20-year-old forward recorded 97 points in 48 Western Junior Hockey League contests along with 11 in seven World Junior Championship games for gold medal-winning Canada.
With a sharp GM like Nill, Dallas will solve its issues the best it can and likely be among the top NHL expert picks for the Western Conference crown in 2023-24.