The Dallas Stars are sinking in the Western Conference. After a 5-0-2 run put them in the thick of the playoff race, they lost their next five games.
With 47 points in their first 44 games, they fell six points out of the final playoff slot on the more competitive side of the league.
Their road trip the East Coast produced disastrous results. The Stars hit bottom with a 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders, then moved back toward daylight during a competitive 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
“We were a lot better tonight. We were really bad on the Island. We were better in Jersey. We were better again tonight,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “On the bench the guys are putting pressure on each other to take care of the puck.
“As soon as you get peer pressure and guys are talking about getting pucks deep and taking care of the puck in some tough situations, we’ll start to win again.”
Here are just some of the indicators of trouble:
- Opponents outscored 22-10 during the five-game losing streak.
- They are 6-8-1 against the weaker Eastern Conference this season.
- Their penalty-killing unit has allowed eight goals in a seven-game span.
- Goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 0-4 in January with a 3.89 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage.