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Looking ahead for the Stars: Will Mats Zuccarello be sticking around?

Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

As each NHL team is eliminated from the postseason, we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, three keys to its offseason, and impact prospects for 2019-20, concluding by offering a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.


What went wrong

Perhaps the Dallas Stars' biggest problem this season was their inability to score goals. They scored the third-fewest goals in the league (2.55 per game), as only the hapless Kings and Ducks were worse. That mostly wasn't an issue in the playoffs, as they scored 35 through 13 games (2.69 per game) and saw breakout performances from secondary scorers like Roope Hintz (five goals) and Jason Dickinson (three). Trade deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello provided the offensive spark that the Stars were looking for too, with 10 points in the playoffs.

Dallas made it all the way to a Game 7 of the second round series, which to be honest, was probably a fair preseason expectation for this team. The team was adjusting to its third coach in as many years, and there were going to be growing pains to a different style. It even occurred during the season; the team wanted to have a quick, aggressive offense, but they turned into a methodical defensive team. It didn't help that superstars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin didn't get off to the best start -- which we heard about, unfortunately, in a profanity-filled rant by the team's CEO around Christmastime. Seguin especially picked things up as the season went on, and the team certainly looked like it had found its stride during the first-round win over the Nashville Predators.

Stars coach Jim Montgomery is a big "process" guy, and shortly after he was hired, ESPN asked the former college coach what would be a success in Year 1. "Success is going to be having the right energy and people believing in the process that we're going to instill." Montgomery said last May. "We're going to have a team identity, and success is going to be the players understanding and valuing that process like I do. If that happens, making the playoffs and everything else is going to come with it."