Goal surge would cure Stars ills

BY foxsports • December 18, 2009

The Stars continue to work on shootouts, faceoffs, defensive breakouts and coverage in front of the goalie, but all of those things can be fixed to some extent if the team can do just one thing - put the puck in the net.

After being held to two goals or fewer in regulation just three times in the first 13 games of the season, the Stars have had it happen 13 times in the last 19 games. It's becoming somewhat of a routine that the team scores only two goals per 60 minutes - and that's despite the fact the Stars lead the NHL with 146 power-play opportunities and rank seventh in shots on goal with 32.1.

"The great thing is we are doing a lot of things right, and we're getting a lot of scoring chances," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "So what we need to do is just get some of our key players scoring goals, and I think it will start coming for us."

Loui Eriksson, who scored 36 goals last season, has no goals in the last 12 games. Jamie Benn has two goals in the last 22 games after getting three in the first 10. Steve Ott, who had 19 goals last season, has three in 26 games. Jere Lehtinen has one goal in 18.

All of those players are getting chances. They just have to find a way to finish.

"Boom Boom Geoffrion always said the only way out of a slump is to shoot your way out," Crawford said. "And that's what we're telling them, just keep shooting, keep creating chances and keep shooting. We're definitely thinking volume right now."

Brenden Morrow and James Neal went through slumps earlier in the season, and both have come out of them. Neal was asked if it's a hard job being a goal-scorer and carrying that weight.

"No, it's a great job," he said. "I think that's the best job in the game. You want that responsibility, and you want the opportunity. I definitely think it's something we all want to do."

Eriksson, who had nine goals in the first 21 games, carries the weight harder but said he understands his role.

"It is tough when you lose a game and you felt you had a couple of good scoring chances," he said. "But I just know that if I keep working it will come. I feel good, and I feel like I'm close, so that's the good part."

Morrow said he emphasizes driving the net and getting to the hard scoring areas.

"You've got to look for hard goals," Morrow said. "If you look for the hard goals, the easy ones will come."

The bottom line is that this is how this team, under Crawford and new GM Joe Nieuwendyk, is designed. The philosophy of the new Stars is to be a team that pushes the pace and scores goals.

"We want to be a team that scores, there's no doubt about that," Crawford said. "I'd like to take the chance of being a high-scoring team, and putting our eggs in that basket and seeing how many games you can win by just out-chancing and outscoring the other team."

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