Offensive output from Stars defensemen must match postseason run for Dallas to succeed

FRISCO – During the Stars’ postseason run when they flew past the Flames and Avalanche before strangling the Golden Knights, Rick Bowness asked a similar question repeatedly when his team surprised many viewers.

Where did this offense come from?

The stars were known as the boring, defensive-thinking team in the south. They put life out of the game and did so well enough in the Western Conference to get into the top four. In Dallas, star players saw the numbers drop and wondered if it was the player or the system.

But the playoffs brought back a rush of insults to the stars, which left many amazed at how this team, with the same staff on the squad, managed to score out of nowhere. Answer from Bowness? That the stars involved the defenders.

Dallas asked them to jump into the hustle and bustle when the stars broke the puck. It urged them to aggressively pinch walls to keep the pucks alive. It made sure that the level of trust between defenders and strikers that needed to be exchanged in order to be successful was evident.

As a result, Miro Heiskanen scored 26 points in 27 games. John Klingberg had 21 points. The stars reached the Stanley Cup final.

“I think it is important that you activate your defenders,” said Klingberg. “I think there are a lot of scoring chances and a lot of insults when you play D well. We want that too. If they flip the puck and go the other way, you need a fourth man to jump in a rush. We worked a lot on that in the camp for the bladder. I think you saw that that was pretty successful in the playoffs too. “

A few months later, the stars will no longer change their style for the 2020-21 season.

“If you watch our exercises, every exercise we do comes our D,” said Bowness on Tuesday afternoon after the team’s second day of training camp. “We’re not going to change that. Our defense is a big part of our offensive. Our defense is a big part of our preliminary exam. We can’t spend time in the offensive zone if we don’t include our defense. “

Here’s how much production the stars have received from their backend in recent years.

year G% of defenders A% of defenders P% of defenders
2020 playoffs 22.1 (t-4 of 24) 37.0 (6.) 31.6 (4 ..
Season 2019-20 14.6 (20th of 31) 34.6 (5.) 27.1 (8.)
Playoffs 2019 14.3 (8th of 16) 25.9 (16.) 21.3 (16.)
Season 2018-19 19.6 (3rd of 31) 30.0 (18.) 26.2 (7.)

Heiskanen and Klingberg will be the attacking front runners at the back end. Heiskanen’s fast skating and fast hands through the neutral zone help. Klingberg is more adept at doing stretch passes than any defender on the Stars list.

But the stars also boast Jamie Oleksiak on the blue line, who opened eyes with his aggressive post-season play (which was mostly positive but sometimes kept his partner Heiskanen from joining the offensive). New signing Mark Pysyk played forward for Florida last year but will play defense in Dallas.

Despite the added emphasis on defenders joining the offensive, make no mistake: the Stars will continue to be built around their defensive structure. It’s what Bowness first preached to the offensive side of the puck, and something the stars did two years ago under Jim Montgomery and last season with Bowness.


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