by PuckStopsHere on 11/08/11 at 02:06 PM ET
Before the season began would anyone have guessed that the Dallas Stars would be in first place in the NHL on November 8th? They have a 10-3 record. They are the only team in the league with ten wins. They have a .769 point percentage, which leads the NHL.
Dallas is a team going through bankruptcy. They struggled to meet the salary floor at the beginning of the season. This isn’t the type of team one would expect to be in first place. Most people picked them to miss the playoffs entirely. This is a team that lost their top player Brad Richards to free agency over the summer.
Their strength so far this season has come from their goal prevention. Kari Lehtonen has been one of the top goalies in the league. He is posting a .936 saves percentage and a 2.14 GAA. In eleven games, he has ten wins. Dallas is second worst in the league in shots against and yet eighth best in goals against. A large part of the reason for their record is the play of Lehtonen.
Their top defenceman has been Sheldon Souray who is posting some top numbers. He has 12 points and a +10 +/- rating. The Dallas Stars picked him up on the cheap after the Edmonton Oilers threw him away. Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski are seeing a lot of playing time for the Stars and are doing pretty well in their roles to provide some defensive depth.
As for offence both Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn have 15 points in their 13 games. Michael Ryder, Mike Ribiero and Steve Ott can also score. Brendan Morrow is another proven scorer who has not yet had a hot streak this season.
Dallas is an example of a team where everything has gone right so far. That isn’t going to happen over a full season. There will be injuries and losing streaks and other issues. How well will Dallas be able to handle these problems?
The Dallas Stars are not the most talented team in the NHL. They have a lot of behind the scenes issues that should serve to be distractions this season. Despite that they are in first place in the league. I doubt that situation can last. They are a team that will likely fall toward the rest of the pack as time goes on. If they are to make the playoffs, it will likely be as a result of this fast start.
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