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Screen Shots: Stars Not Playing Like Them, Byfuglien, Habs and More

The Dallas Stars have struggled out of the gate, the Canadiens and Coyotes have looked downright terrible and looking back at the end of Dustin Byfuglien. Adam Proteau shares some thoughts from around the NHL.

Screen Shots is the name, smaller pieces of writing are the game. Welcome. Let’s get right into it.

– The Dallas Stars aren’t looking like the true Stanley Cup contender I figured they’d be this year. Dallas is off to a 4-4-2 start to the season, and they’re only one of two NHL teams that have yet to win in regulation time. The other is Arizona, and with due respect to Arizona, you really don’t want to be compared to the Coyotes on the ice this year.

Offense has been a major issue for Dallas this season. You like to see blueliner Miro Heiskanen with eight assists and 10 points in 10 games, but it’s not that great to have one of your defensemen leading the team in points. It’s great to have Tyler Seguin back, but Jamie Benn only has four points in 10 games, Alex Radulov and Joe Pavelski have only five points over the same span. Nobody other than Seguin has more than two goals for the Stars this season.

That said, Dallas’ defense hasn’t been particularly great, either. Off-season acquisition Braden Holtby has delivered (.924 save percentage, and a 2.46 goals-against average), but veteran goalie and tandem-mate Anton Khudobin (.897 SP) has not. Is Khudobin worried about possibly getting traded – something more likely now that netminder Ben Bishop is set to come back from injury and give the Stars three competent goalies? Perhaps. But perhaps Khudobin is, like every man before him, falling behind because of Father Time? Khudobin is 35, and his career-high in games played is 41. This should tell us the Stars need both parts of the netminder tandem to produce. Once that happens, all the other pieces should fall into place.

– Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets agreed to terminate the remainder of his contract in April of 2020 and it feels like the NHL would be a better league if he was still playing. The Jets would be more rugged and dangerous if Byfuglien chose to return to the league and honor his original deal to stay with the organization, but, given what little we know about Byfuglien’s reason(s) for stepping away from the game, it’s better to leave him be, and maybe down the road he tells us why he did what he did.

I’m not suggesting he had a health issue – mental or physical – but if that were true, I hope Byfuglien is now healthy and happy, wherever he is. Byfuglien played 869 regular-season NHL games and another 66 playoff games, and he may still be able to compete in hockey’s best league. However, if he’s lost his passion for the sport, or if he’s been injured too many times and doesn’t want to subject himself to more pain, you have to respect his feelings.

– I don’t want to keep harping on the Coyotes, but man alive, they are abysmal. No wins whatsoever in their first 10 games. Shut out three times in that span. They’ve only taken an opponent to overtime and/or a shootout once in 10 games. They’ve been hammered by just about every team – they’ve given up five or more goals in five of the 10 games – and there’s no end in sight. They’re already the NHL’s worst team, something I think most people would have envisioned in pre-season predictions, but I don’t think they should’ve arrived there this soon. I expected more of a fight from them, but I was wrong.

Don’t get it twisted – I think GM Bill Armstrong’s plan is the best one for this team at this time, but I don’t think we’ll ever see such a weak team again. The Coyotes are not good, and everyone knows it.

– It has to be difficult for Montreal Canadiens fans to see this prolonged streak of (mostly) losing. The bigger problem is, the Habs are likely going to continue to lose. When you lose the talent Montreal lost via free agency in the summer, and you compound those holes in the roster with news star goalie Carey Price was in the NHL’s player assistance plan, there’s going to be a drop-off in overall quality of play. Canadiens fans knew this was coming, but it hurts them more to see exactly how much of a drop-off the Habs have endured.

Price is about to return to the team, but even he knows it is going to be a monstrous time trying to earn a playoff berth in the competitive Atlantic Division. The Canadiens are at a crossroads in many respects, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what GM Marc Bergevin does to try stopping the slide.

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