The Stars 6-0-1 run to start January has been keyed by many factors. Timely saves by Kari Lehtonen, including at the end of the first period on Monday night against the Kings and on the Jack Johnson penalty shot late in the game, the acquisition of Jamie Langenbrunner, and the awesomeness of Jamie Benn.
But it's also been keyed, IMO, by a guy whose career up until this season had been underwhelming. Perhaps it's because we'd been expecting him to be something he's not. Or perhaps he's starting to find his niche in Marc Crawford's system.
And Saturday night, he continued his hot play by registering his first ever two goal game in his NHL career with two power play goals. On the season, he's on pace to set season high's for goals scored, assists, and points.
And he's one of the biggest reasons behind a resurgence in the Stars power play. This week's Hockeymetrics takes a look at the play of Stars defenseman Trevor Daley...
Last season, I thought one of the biggest beneficiaries of the switch from a Dave Tippett system to a Marc Crawford system would be Daley. So from an expectations standpoint, last year was a disappointment and led to talk that perhaps the native of Toronto had hit ceiling as a player and wouldn't be the player we all thought he'd be.
Or perhaps the adjustment period took a season longer than we expected it to take. Thus far, Daley is on pace to set a season high for goals and assists. And what the stats don't tell us, our eyeballs do. Daley looks more confident with the puck in the offensive zone and isn't as afraid to take chances in the zone as he used to be earlier in his career.
Why is that?
Well, I've got a few theories to postulate.
As mentioned, there's a big difference between what Daley was coached to do in Tippett's system and what he's been asked to do in Crawford's system. Early in his career, Daley was coached to be defensively responsible in his own zone and worry about the offense later.
And with stalwarts such as Sergei Zubov and Phillipe Boucher manning the blue line ahead of Daley on the blueliner depth chart, you can understand why.
Obviously, those two are long gone and their absence left a huge offensive void from the blue line. It simply took awhile for Daley to adjust from being a more 'stay at home' defenseman to being one of those blueliners that the Stars are relying on for offense.
The other theory is that the Stars defensemen seem more confident in Kari Lehtonen than they did in Marty Turco the past few seasons.
One that gains a lot more traction when you consider that Turco clearly isn't the number 1 guy in Chicago anymore having just made his first start in the month of January the other night against Nashville on the back end of a home and home series.
Obviously you don't need stats to determine when a bad goal is a bad goal. And the eyeball tests tell us all that Kari Lehtonen simply isn't giving up as many bad goals this season as Turco did the last two seasons in Dallas. And as anybody who has ever played the defenseman position at any level of hockey will tell you, having confidence in your netminder that he won't give up a bad goal is such a huge psychological advantage to have in the game.
I won't delve too much into this, but I noticed during Versus telecast on Monday that Joe Beninati pointing out that Drew Doughty's numbers are down this season with Razor supporting that point by stating more teams are keying in on him. That may be true, but I can't but think that Jonathan Quick's struggles in net might also have something to do with that as well.
Now what do the metrics tell us?
They tell us that Daley is currently at a career high for 5on5 points per 60 minutes of 5on5 ice time (or P/60) at 0.97. To be sure, that checks him in 45th amongst all NHL defenseman and well off the pace of Detroit's Brian Rafalski, who leads in this category with 2.04.
But that's not the most impressive metric.
No, that would be Daley's 5on4 metrics.
Now technically, Jeff Woywitka is the team leader in 5on4 G/60. But that's all because of his garbage time power play goal against Atlanta Saturday night. If you take his out and only include those defensemen who get regular power play time (Daley, Stephane Robidas, and Matt Niskanen), Daley is the clear leader with 1.41 G/60 with Robidas well off that pace with 0.49. Niskanen has yet to score a power play goal this year.