The Dallas Stars last two games are the sports equivalent of White Out. The script of the Stars season so far has been fun and heart-warming, but it had some warts. What do you do when you have a few paper issues, and no computer access? Dump a bunch of White Out on the document.
The Stars' uprising the past two games has served as their own version of White Out. As of this writing the Stars are now 7th in the NHL in scoring. The Stars struggling power play? About that....they're now 9th in the NHL at a crisp 19.2%. They're only allowing 2.38 goals per game which is good for 8th in the NHL.They're even 15th in both face off percentage (50.6%) and on the penalty kill (83.3%), but the one statistic people will be drawn to is the shot differential.
The Stars currently sit at 23rd in the NHL in shots per game with 26.8 per game, and a frightening 29th in shots against per game with 33.2 per game. It's an issue, but as we've seen so far this season the Stars have been successful at not allowing quality chances. The Stars 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes is no different than any other Stars win this season, Saturday against the Avalanche excluded. Follow the jump to see the nuts and bolts of a 5-2 win, and how many chances the Hurricanes actually generated.
The Stars and Hurricanes game from Sunday afternoon is an example of a fairly commonly held belief about what happens late in games of any sport when one team is being "blown out". The team trailing is going to fire scoring attempts left and right, and the team with the lead is going to usually be happy to sit back in a conservative frame of mind. The teams played straight up in the chances department through two periods, but in the third period the Hurricanes had a +3 chance advantage.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Despite the fact that the Stars power play has improved drastically over the previous weeks they still aren't getting on the power play enough for that improvement to be more meaningful. The Canes were able to generate 6 chances with the extra man (3 in the third) to the bagel the Stars power play generated. Nicklas Grossman took three minors last night without drawing any calls. Going with the idea that a penalty taken is worth 20% of a goal, if last night were closer game Grossman ran the serious risk of giving the game away by handing the Canes .6 goals just in penalties.
On a related note, while looking that up I noticed something interesting. The Stars usual checking line of Adam Burish, Radek Dvorak, and Vernon Fiddler must drive people insane. Combined the three have taken 4 penalties. They've drawn a whopping 13 (3, 4, and 6 respectively). They've generated almost two goals worth of value just in penalty minutes in only about 1/8th of the season. The fact that they're doing that while in a defensive capacity is phenomenal.
*Benn and Fiddler are tied for 13th in penalties drawn in the entire NHL. Rick Nash, somehow, has drawn 9 penalties without committing a single infraction.
Most of the Stars players had pretty even games. Brenden Morrow, Adam Burish, and Mike Ribeiro were -3, -2, and -2 respectively in chances at even strength to lead the frowny-face side of the ledger up front, but the Jamie Benn trio turned the frown upside down. Benn was a +6 chances at even strength. Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder were both +7 at even strength. The line was all over the ice against the Canes. It was almost unfair what they were doing.
Ryder's goal shouldn't have gone in, but the shot was still ridiculous. It made me think of one of Kari Lehtonen's first games as a Star against the Penguins. He let a couple goals in over his shoulder (one that I particularly remember was from the low circle), and all I could think was "how does a guy that big keep getting beaten over the shoulder?". The Ryder goal sent me back to that place, but Lehtonen wasn't the one being victimized.
Your biggest positive defensive pairing of the night was the Sheldon Souray/Stephane Robidas duo. Both guys were a +3 at even strength, and both continued to play quality big time penalty killing minutes.
I'm also sad to report that Michael Ryder did not add to his penalty killing time. The drive to 1:30 on the year is officially stalled.
As always (or usual, with the Avs game excluded again) if you have any questions about what was or wasn't recorded send them my way