The Dallas Stars met up with the Columbus Blue Jackets once again last night, and dropped a lackluster 4-1 decision. Kari Lehtonen made his return from the IR to play behind a team that was missing it's top defense pairing, and would eventually lose captain Brenden Morrow to injury. Kari played well in his return, but the injuries out in front of him made very noticeable impacts.
The work ethic/energy problem the Stars face on a nightly basis was a problem again last night. The Stars outshot the Jackets 19-9 in the first period which suggests that the Stars came out swinging, but both teams were pretty flat all night. Of the 19 shots the Stars put on net in the first period seven were from defensemen, and they were able to generate precious few rebound chances from those. In the second and third periods the Stars were outshot 20-18. The scoring chances from last night fall right in line with the shots. The Stars outchanced the Jackets 5-3 in the first and were outchanced 5-8 in the final two periods.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The individual chance report and the player chance report are after the jump. One defense pair in particular will give you quite the shock, but if you watched last night closely it won't come as much of a surprise. Follow the jump to see the nuts and bolts of the 4-1 loss.
Today's player report is an example of why you have to look at the big picture to get a clearer understanding of how a particular player is performing. Alex Goligoski and Philip Larsen were brutal last night. Larsen was a -3 chances at even strength. Goligoski was a -6 at even strength, by far his biggest negative as a Star. If you just looked at this one game you could draw numerous unfair conclusions about both players. The overall body of work is still solid. With Stephane Robidas and Sheldon Souray out of the lineup that duo was overexposed defensively. The Jackets, to their credit, took advantage.
The duo were very poor in their own end, but the Stars as a whole contracted another case of the yips. Numerous unforced errors, poor defensive coverage, and rebound coverage that left a lot to be desired led to chances for a Jackets team that was begging to be beaten. The Stars top players were, once again, the third liners. Eric Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler, and Radek Dvorak continue to bring desperately needed energy on a consistent basis. Without that trio there is no telling where the Stars would be.
One interesting development is a subtle change to the powerplay that the Stars hinted at Wednesday. We heard hints about Goligoski being in line for "Brad Richard-like" powerplay time. Last night Goligoski was on the ice for 4:30 of the Stars 6:00 of powerplay time. In that time he was +2 chances. He can do better than that. It's very difficult to be successful in the NHL without generating chances on the powerplay, and the Stars need Goligoski to be able to do so to help get things back on track.
Next up for the Stars are the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Those games will turn ugly very quickly if the Stars don't get things straightened out before taking the ice on New Years Eve. The Bruins are a team that can physically dominate a game at any moment. The Red Wings don't ever let anyone else touch the puck. My rough estimate is that the Red Wings haven't committed a turnover in 25 years, but I could be a little off. Both are very difficult matchups for anyone, and particularly difficult for a team struggling the way the Stars currently are. For the Stars to have a legitimate shot at taking points in either of the next two games they have to do something to spark some life into the lineup.
If you have any questions about the recorded chances, or any comments feel free to leave a comment or send me a Tweet @Josh1220.