The Dallas Stars roared back to relevancy last season. After reaching the playoffs just once the previous six years (2013-14), the Stars topped the Western Conference last season with 109 points (50-23-9). That was followed by a second-round playoff exit to the second-seeded Blues in seven games, but make no mistake-this is a team rising quickly
The Stars now possess what is undoubtedly the most explosive offense in the NHL. Led by the best one-two punch in hockey-All-Star forwards Jaime Benn (41 G, 89 Pts) and Tyler Seguin (33 G, 70 Pts)--Dallas averaged a league-high 3.23 GPG a season ago. To give you further idea of the offensive prowess, the Stars finished with 20 more goals than any club in the league.
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All of that was well and good, but a championship-caliber attack can't always mask suspect goaltending and defense. And that's the big concern with the Stars moving forward. Last season, Dallas went outside the box by splitting the goalkeeping duties evenly between aging veterans, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. The disappointing result was the Stars finished 19th in scoring defense (2.78 GAA) in the regular season, then Lehtonen had to be pulled in the deciding-game against the Blues after allowing three goals on just eight shots.
The Stars hope by revamping the blue line this offseason they have provided enough help for their replacement-level goalkeepers. Dallas has brought in Dan Hamhuis, Esa Lindell and Stephen Jones to control the defense. All three are much bigger and more defensive-minded than last year's trio of Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Kris Russell. Yes, there will be a significant drop-off in offensive production from the blue line, but there is more than enough firepower up front in Dallas.
2016-17 Dallas Stars NHL Outlook
The Dallas bandwagon has been filling up this offseason. Several preseason publications have Dallas again winning the Western Conference and/or the Stanley Cup, and oddsmakers have them as one of the shortest prices on the board to win big this year (see below).
While hopes may be high in big 'D,' the previous few weeks have provided a bumpy start to the Stars' Stanley Cup quest. Benn is just now seeing preseason game action after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery; while Seguin and winger Ales Hemsky (13 G, 39 Pts) each was injured in the World Cup of Hockey and are both questionable for the start of the season.
Those are certainly immediate concerns, but long-term the Stars look to be in good shape.
2016-17 Dallas Stars Schedule
The Stars open at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 13 and play four of their first six games at American Airlines Center. The two road trips are to the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators.
2016-17 Dallas Stars Future Odds
The Stars are +1200 to win the Stanley Cup, which is the fifth-choice in the wagering. Dallas is the +650 second-choice to win the Western Conference behind the Blackhawks and is +325 to win the Central Division.
Dallas Stars 2016-17 Predictions
The fate of the Stars seems to rest largely on how the changes along the blue line work out. They have gone bigger but also younger. Early-season mistakes wouldn't be a surprise with this unit as the new faces learn to mesh.
Dallas and its up-tempo style is one of the best shows in the NHL. Skill, speed and precision are all on display when the Stars are on attack. But one dimension does not a champion make. Look for the Stars to win plenty of games, but again topping the Western Conference in points would seem a stretch.
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