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Are the Stars contenders or pretenders?

Antti Niemi, Sean Monahan

Antti Niemi, Sean Monahan


The Dallas Stars may be 19-5-1, and they may lead the NHL in goal-scoring, but the way they defend is why there remain doubts that they’re a serious Stanley Cup contender.

Last night in Calgary, the Stars blew a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime.

“We just stopped playing hockey,” captain Jamie Benn told the Dallas Morning News. “We knew they were a desperate hockey team, and it was a pretty embarrassing loss.”

It was the second time in a week that Benn had called his team’s performance “embarrassing.” He also said it after the Stars had been ventilated, 7-4, by Ottawa last Tuesday.

As mentioned, Dallas leads the NHL in offense, averaging 3.48 goals per game. Defensively, however, they rank 16th (2.60). For comparison’s sake, that’s slightly worse than Toronto (2.58) and tied with Buffalo.

Goals against of past six Stanley Cup champs
2014-15 Blackhawks (2nd, 2.27)
2013-14 Kings (1st, 2.05)
2012-13 Blackhawks (1st, 2.02)
2011-12 Kings (2nd, 2.07)
2010-11 Bruins (2nd, 2.30)
2009-10 Blackhawks (6th, 2.48)

Look, nobody’s saying it’s impossible to win the Cup with the Stars’ statistical makeup. The Penguins ranked 17th defensively in 2008-09. It can be done.

But the Pens were an anomaly in the past decade. The Red Wings finished first defensively in 07-08, the Ducks were third in 06-07, and the Hurricanes were third in 05-06.

It doesn’t seem to matter the sport. If you’re not great at defending, it’s a lot to harder to win championships. That’s just obvious, right? Even the Golden State Warriors -- a team widely celebrated for the way it can pile up points -- ranked first overall in defensive efficiency last season.

The Stars’ next game is tomorrow in Vancouver.

“Play a full 60 minutes,” Benn said when asked what they needed to do. “We’ve really got to learn our lesson.”

Related: Once again, Ruff calls out Stars for playing ‘pond hockey’