Coming into this season, the underlying question for the Dallas Stars was, "who can replace Brad Richards?". Richards logged the heaviest minutes (around 22 per game) among all of the Stars forwards and was a substantial piece of the power-play unit, even if it was ineffective for much of the season.
1 month into the season, it looks like that prospect isn't as daunting as it first appeared with the Stars near the top of the league with an 8-3-0 record. They're tied with the Penguins and Capitals for first in the NHL with eight wins and currently sit second in the Western Conference due to tiebreakers. The Chicago Blackhawks sit in front of them because they have a better goal differential (+8 compared to the Stars +5).
Thus far, the Stars have looked very good so I wanted to take a look at how the minutes have been distributed now that the team is much deeper and doesn't have to rely so much on one guy (even if that one guy was a top-5 or top-10 player in the league).
GP = Games Played TOI = Time on ice TOI/G = Time on ice per game
PP TOI = Power-play time on ice SH TOI = Shorthanded time on ice
Forwards (Ordered by TOI/G)
|Michael Ryder||11||183:56||16:43||14:29 (with BOS)
|Vernon Fiddler||11||152:23||13:51||15:33 (with PHX)
|Radek Dvorak||11||150:59||13:43||16:33 (with FLA)
||13:19 (with MIN)
||11:49 (with CHI)
- With the new coach, new system and deeper bench, nearly every player is averaging less time on the ice (for the first month at least). Steve Ott got himself a substantial increase in ice time and he's responded very well with 2 goals and 6 assists so far this season. He's among the league leaders in hits (tied for first in fact).
- Delegating the ice time like it is will help (most likely at least) reduce the injuries that killed the Stars last year.
- The first unit on the PP, Morrow-Ribeiro-Ryder, has gotten 2 goals and 3 assists between the three of them. The Ott-Benn-Eriksson unit has 1 goal and 5 assists. As a team, Dallas has scored 5 times on the PP. Sheldon Souray and Trevor Daley scored the other two goals. Overall, Dallas is ranked 27th in the league in PP goals.
- The only team in the league with less power-play goals from their forwards is the St. Louis Blues, who have gotten 2 goals.
- Radek Dvorak and Vernon Fiddler have been invaluable to the team, just from their penalty-killing. Not only have they been excellent on the PK, they haven't gotten the team in trouble by taking penalties. Fiddler has only taken one penalty on the season and Dvorak doesn't have a single PIM. Throw in Loui Eriksson, who only has one penalty this year and is hard-pressed to have more than 10 PIM during a season, and the PK has been set up to be successful.
- Eric Nystrom's first game with the Stars was on October 18th against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite joining the team as an add-on only because of the Sean Avery cap situation, Nystrom has already become a big part of the rotation. He has played in every game since that Blue Jacket matchup and has played well.
- Toby Peterson and Krys Barch have been reduced to bench guys. Jake Dowell and Tom Wandell have had reduced minutes since the arrival of Nystrom. In fact, Nystrom averages more minutes than Adam Burish now.
- Tomas Vincour was only here at the start of the season. He has been sent back down to the Texas Stars.
Defensemen (Ordered by TOI/G)
||11||228:16||20:45||On Hershey Bears||29:41||27:26
|Adam Pardy||5||91:19||18:15||14:41 (with CGY)||0:00||5:53
- I was unable to find Souray's ice times during his stint in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, but he played in 40 games (half their season). The last time he played full time in the NHL was during the 2009-2010 season, when he averaged 22:37 minutes of ice time.
- Souray would have a lot more shorthanded time, but he leads the team in PIM with 27. He's taken a penalty in seven of the last eight games.
- Like the forwards, ice time has been mostly reduced for most of the guys on the team. The later pairs of defensemen are better than what we had last year so the Stars don't need to overplay Robidas and Goligoski.
- Souray and Daley have 2 of the Stars' 5 PP goals. Robidas and Souray each have an assist on the PP as well.
- Philip Larsen was sent back down to the Texas Stars after the first three games of the season.