While there were some questions regarding the Dallas Stars going into the season, one did not have to worry about the team’s goaltending.
Stars’ netminder Jake Oettinger, 24, had a great first season in the league last year. He went 30-15-0-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage, and one shutout.
Oettinger was even better in the Stanley Cup playoffs in a seven-game opening-round series loss to the Calgary Flames. Oettinger held one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NHL to just 13 goals while posting a 1.81 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage, and one shutout.
For his strong efforts last season, the Stars rewarded him with a three-year, $12 million contract back on September 2. With the signing, the franchise showed that the net belongs to Oettinger.
It appears that the Stars made the right move, as Oettinger has been even better this season. He is currently (Tuesday, January 10) 18-6-0-3 with a 2.34 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Oettinger’s strong play between the pipes is one of the reasons why his team has been so good this year. The Stars are first in the Central Division and fifth in the NHL with a 24-11-6 record and 54 points.
There are several reasons why Oettinger has been a standout between the pipes this year. For starters, he is playing with a lot of confidence.
Oettinger came into this season having already shown that he can be the starter. He was essentially his team’s main guy last season in the regular season and did more than a solid job in his first year in that role.
He also came into this season after having been masterful in the playoffs, the brightest stage in the NHL. He showed the rest of the hockey world that he could handle the pressure and be the main man in goal for the Stars.
Secondly, he plays the position in a calm manner. He controls his rebounds, never seems to be out of position, and always gives his team a chance to win a hockey game.
Lastly, Oettinger is consistent. In an article for The Athletic by Saad Yousef, Stars head coach Pete DeBoer spoke glowingly of his goaltender.
“He’s unflappable,” DeBoer said. “He’s a special, special goalie, a special person. He’s got great leadership; he’s got great respect in our room. The guys play hard for him. Those are all characteristics of an elite goalie that you need.”
Not many people expected the Stars to be Cup contenders coming into this season. That sentiment has changed as Oettinger’s play in the net has people believing that the Stars have a chance to win hockey’s Holy Grail when all is said and done.