The scheduling issues we all face thanks to Thanksgiving have thrown the scoring chance schedule through a loop. The Stars play again tonight in Colorado, and since my Thanksgiving break began they've played three other games. All four need some scoring chance love, and all four are going to get it still. If not for tonight's game I simply would have done the three games from over the break as one post, but the cons outweigh the pros.
The schedule for the three games over the break plus tonight's game is pretty simple. Today the chances from the 3-2 OT win over the Kings from 11/23 and the 4-3 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs from 11/25 will be put together in one post. Tomorrow the scoring chances from Saturday night's 3-0 Phoenix loss and tonight's game in Colorado will roll out as one post. For today's post get back in the mind frame of winning. Remember the time before Kari Lehtonen got hurt. Remember Steve Ott's OT winner. Remember Eric Nystrom's two goals against Toronto. Basically, forget what happened Saturday night for a few minutes to travel back in time to Wednesday and Friday to see how the Stars picked up three out of four possible points.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that both of these games were treats to watch. The Stars appear to be generating quite a bit more possession per game than earlier in the season. I believe it was the Radek Dvorak goal against Toronto where Bob Sturm pointed out that the Stars were in the Leafs zone for 1:08 before the puck was in the net. The Stars of three weeks ago aren't able to do that.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The Stars outchanced the Kings 11-8 including 8-6 at even strength and 3-2 on special teams. The Stars outshot the Kings by a healthy 38-24 margin. It's amazing what kind of shot totals the Stars are able to put up when they actually have the puck.
The Stars as a group had a successful game Wednesday. No one line really stands head and shoulders above any other. Ott led the way with +3 even strength chances, but four other Stars sat at +2. One of those was Philip Larsen to lead the Stars defensive corps.
On Friday night the Stars faced off against Toronto, and once again played a strong game. Much like the previous game against the Kings, the Stars were able to both outshoot and outchance the Leafs. For various stretches of the game the Stars looked dominant.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The Stars outchanced Toronto 12-7 including 10-4 at even strength. In the second period the Stars didn't allow an even strength scoring chance. Two of the ten chances were generated by Eric Nystrom, and he scored on both. He's off to a great start as a member of the Stars, and I really appreciated his second goal. He drove right to the front of the net off the rush like the Stars as a whole need to be doing. It was good to see someone rewarded for the hard work.
The top forward line against Toronto was the Jamie Benn line. Benn, Michael Ryder, and Loui Eriksson were +4, +4, and +3 respectively at even strength. The Ribeiro line appears to have stabilized as well with Ott and Tomas Vincour on his wings. They aren't scoring much, but they're generating offense. They've established the cycle early and often lately. Their hard work in the corners has led to some chances, but with everyone behind the net working for the puck there is no one out front to accept a pass. If I had to criticize one thing about Vincour's game so far that would be the facet I would single out. He needs to work on finding the open space on the ice without the puck to put himself in position to score goals. He has everything else you'd want from a top six forward.
The biggest positive d pairing against Toronto was the pairing of Mark Fistric and Philip Larsen. Fistric was a +3 at even strength, and Larsen was a +4. It's still early on so I'm not fully ready to say "SEE, I'M NOT CRAZY!", but Larsen so far has slid right into Alex Goligoski's minutes flawlessly which is helping Fistric play a simple but effective game. Larsen has solid offensive instincts, and he hasn't been made into a fool defensively. Part of that is his zone start %, but, like Goligoski, he isn't a bad defensive player. Larsen, like Vincour, is still working on asserting himself at the NHL level. At times he's a touch timid with the puck in the offensive zone. It looks like he is looking to defer to a veteran instead of creating offense himself. As he gains more experience I think we're going to like what the Stars have in Larsen.
In a few hours the Stars get to beat their heads against the wall trying to stop Matt Duchene from doing whatever he wants with the puck. The Stars have been playing a more effective possession game lately though so it will be interesting to see the results from tonight's contest as compared to the other meetings with the Avalanche. Tune in tomorrow for recaps from the Stars 3-0 loss against Phoenix and the (hopefully) win tonight in Colorado. If you have any scoring questions leave me a comment or send me a message @JoshL1220. I have the lists, but due the space limitations I didn't post them.