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Back-To-Backs Continue To Plague The Dallas Stars

Graham Jenkins |
February 15, 2013 | 2:01 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk revamped the roster this offseason, but the back-to-back issues remain. (MHaithaca/Creative Commons)
Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk revamped the roster this offseason, but the back-to-back issues remain. (MHaithaca/Creative Commons)
For the last two seasons, back-to-backs have been the thorn in the side of the Dallas Stars. 

The first nights of back-to-backs are not much of an issue for the Stars, as they are 10-6-2 in those games. For some reason, the second night is a much different story, and one that continues to frustrate and perplex all Stars fans.

Including this season, the Stars are a horrific 1-15-2 on the second night of back-to-backs, including 0-4-0 so far this season after Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Calgary Flames. Their one win on the second night of back-to-backs was on Feb. 24, 2012 against the Minnesota Wild. However, it seems as if that win was an aberration, because that win happened during an incredible run in which the Stars went 10-0-1, earning points in 11 straight games. Outside of that run, they have not won a game on the second night of a back-to-back.

Last season, the Stars finished with a 42-35-5 record, and 11 of those regulation losses came on the second night of a back-to-back, meaning nearly one-third of their regulation losses came on the second night of a back-to-back. Take away back-to-backs, and Dallas would appear to be a dynamic team. However, regular seasons that aren't shortened by a lockout are 82 games long, not 68. 

Distance does not seem to be a factor that affects the Stars. Case in point: Oct. 21-22, 2012, the Stars played the Anaheim Ducks the first night and the Los Angeles Kings on the second night. They defeated the Ducks 3-1, but lost to the Kings 1-0. This week, the Stars defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Feb. 12, and lost to the Flames 7-4 the next day.

Here are some miserable notes on the Stars' terrible play on the second night of back-to-backs:

  • Over the last two seasons, on the second night of back-to-backs, the Stars have been outscored 64-29.
  • The Stars have scored only five goals on the second night of back-to-backs this season, four of which came in the 7-4 loss to Calgary on Wednesday.
  • The Stars have lost by three goals on second nights of back-to-backs in 11 of those 15 regulation losses. 
  • While the Stars kill penalties 84 percent of the time, overall, on second nights of back to backs, the penalty kill percentage drops seven percent to over 77 percent, as pointed out by Defending Big D's Erin Bolen.
  • Stars goaltending has saved 91.7 percent of the shots they face overall, but on second nights of back-to-backs, that percentage drops to 88.4 percent.

The Stars aren't just losing on second nights of back-to-backs. They're getting demolished. The goaltending, offense and defense do not come to play on second nights of back-to-backs.

It makes absolutely no sense why the Dallas Stars haven't been able to do what every team in the NHL has to do. Every team has to play back-to-backs. The teams who are able to win a few of their games on the back-end of back-to-backs usually make the playoffs. In that regard, it's truly "survival of the fittest."

Here are the three teams who finished higher than the Stars last year and their records on the second nights of back-to-backs:

  • The San Jose Sharks, who finished seventh with 96 points, were 6-6-2 on the second night of back-to-backs. 
  • The Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, who finished eighth with 95 points, finished with a 5-4-5 record on the second night of back-to-backs.
  • The Calgary Flames, seeded ninth with 90 points, sported a 2-4-4 record on second nights of back-to-backs. 

The Stars finished 10th with 89 points. While there were numerous reasons why the Stars missed the playoffs last season, their lack of performance in the back-end of back-to-backs was perhaps the most significant one. Only six points separated eighth place from 10th, and if the Stars won four more games than they did on the second night of back-to-backs, they might have made the playoffs last year.

There was a lot of changeover for the Dallas Stars this past offseason. Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk traded Mike Ribeiro for a 2012 second-round pick and sent Cody Eakin to the Washington Capitals on the first day of the 2012 draft. He traded Steve Ott and Adam Pardy to the Buffalo Sabres for Derek Roy on July 3 and signed Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney in free agency. The Stars' top-six had a brand new look, and they hoped that a brand new offense would help them perform better overall, especially during back-to-backs.

As mentioned above, even with the massive changeover during the offseason, the Stars can't manage to play second nights of back-to-backs. It's beyond comprehension at this point.

The fact that back-to-backs continue to plague the Stars suggests that the back-to-back woes are in the Stars' heads. Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan, who has been the coach and therefore overseen all of this back-to-back misery since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, said to the press after Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Flames, "It must be something with this group, because we can't seem to fight our way out of it...We've tried different routines and the whole bit...it must be mental." There appears to be a mental wall that the Stars can't climb over when they play second nights of back-to-backs. What's really troubling is that Gulutzan does not appear to know how to fix it. Everything he has tried has failed. 

The Stars have five more back-to-backs this season. Those cannot be five guaranteed losses if the Stars want to make the playoffs this season. If they can't figure out how to win on the back-end of a back-to-back more than once, if at all, they will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

Reach Staff Writer Graham Jenkins here, or follow him on Twitter.



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