The Dallas Stars struggled in a lot of areas last season leading to a finish that left them 15 points short of a playoff spot.
The Stars addressed the poor goaltending by bringing in Ben Bishop. They improved the penalty kill with the signing of Martin Hanzal. They bolstered the top line scoring with the addition of Alexander Radulov. Finally, they added defensemen Marc Methot to the blueline to give a veteran presence to a young group.
But have any of these moves improved the extra period they were near the bottom of the league?
Dallas recorded just one shootout win last season, tied for the least in the NHL, but hardly ever reached the skills demonstration because of 11 overtime losses. While this is not as glaring or as talked about as some of their other issues, that’s a lot of extra points lost that could have made the pursuit of a playoff spot significantly easier.
In 3-on-3 overtimes puck possession is key. A portion of the game magnified by this is faceoffs, in which Hanzal finished 8th last season in of qualified players. Even if Hanzal is just on the ice to take the faceoff, he already provides an improvement for the Stars in that area.
In the last three seasons Kari Lehtonen, who will serve as more of a backup in the upcoming season, lost 19 games in either overtime or shootouts over the course of 167 games played. Antti Neimi played 146 dropping 18 games. Bishop in the same time frame played 201 games, also dropping 19 in the extra frame. While the teams were different, Bishop has a slightly lower percentage of losses past 60 minutes. While this isn’t a significant difference, Bishop could be the difference between two the three overtime victories the Stars haven’t found in recent years.
Methot offers the Stars a defense minded defensemen for the extra period with a number of games under his belt. Too many times last season the Stars had an offensive blueliner coupled with the forwards that led to an odd man rush their own way. Methot could provide the safety blanket the Stars need with the talented forwards on the ice that the younger defensemen could not last season.
Radulov provides the Stars with a forward who has had success when the game goes past 60 minutes. Last season he scored a playoff winner against the New York Rangers in overtime. In the shootout he is even better, scoring on five of his six career attempts. If Dallas ever reaches the shootout, Radulov will likely be one of the first three names written down.
While overtime and shootouts weren’t an area the Stars directly addressed, each of the big signings this offseason helped fill the holes that were there in their own ways. The additional few points along the way could be what Dallas needs to find the postseason once again.