Jake Oettinger is one of the best young goaltenders in the NHL. The Dallas Stars netminder has solidified himself as the team’s franchise goalie and had a phenomenal regular season.
He won 37 games with a .919 save percentage (sv%), 2.34 goals against average (GAA), and 11.8 goals saved above expected (GSAx). That success carried over into the first round of the playoffs, where Oettinger was fantastic in five of the six games against the Minnesota Wild.
So far in the second round, however, Oettinger is struggling, and the Stars find themselves down two games to one to the Seattle Kraken. Last night, he gave up five goals on 17 shots and was pulled after the second period. The Stars are not going to win any playoff series with that kind of goaltending. They need Jake Oettinger to get back on track to have any chance of advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
Let’s just look at these playoffs to show the importance of Oettinger’s play to Dallas’ success.
In the first round against the Wild, Oettinger had a .929 sv%, 2.01 GAA, and 4.3 GSAx. Dallas won the series in six games.
So far, in round two against the Kraken, Oettinger has an .864 sv%, 4.18 GAA, and -5.3 GSAx. Dallas is down in the series 2-1.
Also, in the six playoff games Oettinger has allowed three goals or less, the Stars are 5-1. In the three games he has allowed more than three goals, the Stars are 0-3.
The formula is pretty simple. The Dallas Stars go as Jake Oettinger goes. Now obviously, not every goal against falls on the goaltender, and the team needs to play competent defense in front of him. But Oettinger has to play like a franchise goalie and consistently give his team a chance to win. He may even have to steal a game or two.
When Jake Oettinger gives up three goals or less, the Dallas Stars usually win. When Jake Oettinger gives up four goals or more, the Dallas Stars usually lose. Uncharacteristically, he’s given up over four goals in two of three games against Seattle thus far. That must change for Dallas to win this series.
If Oettinger can get back to being his usual self, the Stars are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. If Oettinger continues to struggle against Seattle, the Stars will soon be watching the rest of the playoffs on television. They need Jake Oettinger to return to form to go deeper in these playoffs.