Included in this report are the final two games in queue to get us brought up to current. The games to be covered are 11/26 against the Coyotes and 11/28 against the Avalanche. The Stars played two very different games against Phoenix and Colorado. Against the Coyotes the Stars were decimated by in-game injuries, and the guys remaining were either tired, disinterested, or a mix of column A and B. Monday night against the Avs the Stars were without several key players, but as a group they showed up in the effort department in a 3-1 win.
The under reported story of the two games is how little we heard the name Matt Duchene on Monday night. If you recall, Duchene is kind of awesome. He put on a clinic in both of the previous meetings between the Stars and Avs. On Monday night he wasn't really a factor, and I'm not sure I can give an explanation for that other than a cop out like "he's young".
I don't think any of us enjoyed watching the Coyotes game. I salute those of you who were able to sit through that live. Any game that features a starting goalie pulled after five minutes has had the wheels shot off in some unfortunate way. Andrew Raycroft was the star of these two games. The circumstances that brought him into the Coyotes game were difficult, and the attack zone time the Coyotes maintained was considerable. He was fantastic in the start on Monday in a game that was close until Michael Ryder iced it with an empty netter. Thanks in large part to Razor #2 the Stars were able to pull two of four points out of these two games, and the detailed accounting of scoring chances which describe the action he saw can be found after the jump.
The Coyotes game was an all around ugly...something. I'm not sure what to call what we witnessed. It wasn't really competitive so I don't want to use a noun that suggests it might have been. So, I guess we'll call it an "event". The event the Stars passively participated in Saturday night ended in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Coyotes. The Stars were outchanced 14-5 for the game, and 95% of the chances were at even strength. The game only saw four minutes of special teams play somehow, and the Stars were only -1 scoring chances in special teams situations because of that.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The Stars that survived the game were run ragged, but the ice time distribution suggests that Coach Gulutzan and Co. were doing their best to limit the impact of the missing skaters. The Stars appear to have been rolling four lines, mixing and matching to limit fatigue, and feeding Philip Larsen ice time. Yes, Larsen. He was on the ice for almost 26 minutes. No one left the game looking pretty.
There is little reason to look more into the individual stats from the Coyotes game. It's just bad...
The Avalanche game featured a much improved effort. The Stars made it known both before and after the game that they were playing as a show of team solidarity to help Raycroft. It showed, and despite going into the game missing a few key pieces the Stars were able to emerge victorious. Trevor Daley's departure from the lineup threw the Stars d matchups into a major state of flux as Adam Pardy was inserted along side Nicklas Grossman.
So, despite the effort the Stars were still outchanced 7-10. At even strength the chances were 5-9 Avs, and on special teams the Avs bested the Stars 1-2. The effort was visible though, but when you keep losing guys it's almost inevitable that you'll get outchanced consistently. The game Monday night was another example of that idea.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Most of the Stars greatly improved from the Phoenix game, but the absence of Daley was more noticeable than most would have guessed. Pardy was inserted for Daley, and the results were...interesting. Grossman and Pardy were both -7 at even strength, by far the worst rating of any Stars player Monday night. The Stars second and third lines were both hovering around -3 chances at even strength also. If the internet wanted to function I would tell you how many of those chances those two lines involved Grossman or Pardy, but alas. We can make some safe assumptions though. Your top line was yet again the Jamie Benn line.
The Stars are going to be at a talent disadvantage in most of their matchups for a while. They will need the level of effort they showed against the Avs to continue picking up points with Kari Lehtonen, etc. still out. The Stars remaining schedule in 2011 is relatively light, but with some difficult matchups. If they continue to put up that level of effort and play responsible defense they should be able to hang in there until the calvary comes skating in to, hopefully, save the day.