Same game plan, nearly the same execution, different result. The Dallas Stars once again put as many pucks on net as possible as they outlast the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 at home. With goals from Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow, the Stars somehow scored just twice while putting 47 official shots on net. Cory Schneider was big in net for the Canucks, but the Stars eventually found a way to solve the young goaltender.
Marty Turco was once again great for the Stars, including a near-brilliant third period. The Stars relaxed a bit after getting a 2-0 lead and the Canucks roared back with 17 shots in the final frame. Turco made several toe and tip of the glove saves, but it was enough for one of his best performances of the season.
Video highlights & breakdown after the jump.
Quantity over quality? In the last three games the Dallas Stars are averaging 39 shots per game, yet are scoring just 2.0 goals per game. It's obvious that the Stars gameplan has been to funnel pucks to the net and crash the crease on every opportunity and they are doing that exceptionally well. The Stars have absolutely peppered opposing goaltenders this season and are averaging more shots per game than they ever have. Overall their goals per game are up as well, but these last few games have been extremely frustrating.
The issue seems to be a combination of great goaltending and a sudden lack of confidence in shot selection. The Stars have had two straight games where it seems they've thrown everything including the kitchen sink at the goalie, with barely any return. At first the Stars were stymied by great goaltending, but as the game wears on the shot selection goes down and the puck is just flung at the net. The mantra "just keep shooting, one is eventually going to go in" has worked somewhat, but you'd like to see the Stars be better rewarded for their dominance on the ice.
Against a team like Vancouver, who on this night played it very safe and constantly retreated into a forest around the net, this sort of plan isn't exactly the best way to beat them (although it worked). Despite 47 shots, there were rarely any second-chance opportunities; the goalie was absorbing a lot of easy shots to the chest and the defense protected the area in front extremely well. Earlier in the season we've heard opposing goaltenders say how easy it was to play the Stars, who shot a lot but did it from far out and in open shooting lanes. This hasn't exactly been the case the past two games but the tendency is still there.
Cory Schneider is a large goalie and usually the book says to get them moving laterally across the crease. The Stars put a lot of pucks on net but it was mostly in a very linear fashion; go straight at net, put puck on net and crash the net. The Stars were rarely settling and moving the puck crisply from one side to the next and their 'vertical passing game', while great to finally see, was not the sort of plays that beat Schneider. The two goals Dallas scored came off passes that moved horizontally.
Ideally what you'd like to see is a combination of the two styles. The Stars have shown an amazing ability to dominate the ice for long stretches and really put fast pressure on the opposition, but yet they've only scored four goals on 87 shots the past two games. The goaltending gets a lot of credit as well, but perhaps at some point the Stars need to relax, and just make some nice passes. It's what has worked on the goals they did score.
Mike Ribeiro, you are officially in a slump. In his last four games, Ribeiro has one goal and two assists and is a minus-5. Last night he had five shots on net, including one from point blank range that he shot straight into Schneider's glove from about five feet away. Perhaps most telling about his frustrations was the breakaway chance; he fumbled the puck (to be fair it was late in the period) a bit, but seemed unable to decide what move he was going to make with it. In the end, he just sort of 'pushed' it on net. I have confidence that he's going to come around, but does it appear that perhaps Ribeiro isn't exactly comfortable in this new system? He's always liked to slow the play down a bit, lull the defense to sleep and strike quickly. Hopefully it's just temporary, he'll find his rhythm and we'll get back the magical Ribeiro we all know and love.
I'm just nitpicking. I've harped on this team a bit the past few days, but overall this team is really playing well. Save for a lapse of about two minutes against Calgary, the Stars have dominated the ice in each of the last two games. Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen are getting their legs back under them and Brad Richards has never looked better.
Marty Turco is also playing some great hockey right now and he is oozing with confidence. After a somewhat shaky start, Turco is now top ten in the NHL in both GAA and save percentage. It's been one hell of a turnaround for him and it feels damn good to have the old Turco back.
DBD's Thee Stars of the Game:
Cory Schneider, Vancouver: Made several incredible stops (including a series of amazing saves on Jamie Benn) and put on the best performance of his career.
Fabian Brunnstrom, Dallas: What? Him? Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards are deserving of this spot, but Brunnstrom had his best game of the season and is regaining confidence each night. He showed tenacity and some actual physicality and is generating scoring chances nightly.
Marty Turco, Dallas: Stood tall in a crazed third period. His nonchalant glove save of a tipped shot on the ice was...incredible. Let's not forget his big pad stack just seconds into the game either against Ryan Kesler.