Hockeymetrics: Stars Must Play Better Within the Pacific

On January 21st, Stars fans took a peek at the Pacific Division standings and saw the Dallas Stars in the lead by six points over the Phoenix Coyotes and by 10 points over the eventual division champ, for the 4th year in a row, the San Jose Sharks.

As we all know, that came crashing down in the month of February. Just a month after leading the division by six points, the Stars found themselves in a three way tie with Southern California's two hockey teams in the cellar.

After the last two seasons, I'm not sure you could blame the most hardcore of Stars fans for being positively jaded on the day after the Stars set a franchise record for most consecutive games unbeaten on the road. Still, there were two statistical areas where we should have considered this fool's gold.

Today, I'll look at how the Stars fared in the Pacific and why they need to be better when the new season kicks off in 75 days. One in which Stars may finally get to say goodbye to the Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks as divisional rivals.

Statistical Sagacity after the jump

First, the overall stats, which are posted in a "running total" format so that you can spot trends:

Game H/A Opp Stars Opp TOI G GA GF/60 GA/60
8 H ANA 2 5 59:54 2 5 2.003 5.008
9 H LA 4 10 119:54 4 10 2.002 5.004
12 H PHX 10 13 179:54 10 13 3.335 4.336
14 A LA 11 16 239:54 11 16 2.751 4.002
15 A ANA 13 20 299:54 13 20 2.601 4.001
16 H ANA 15 21 359:54 15 21 2.501 3.501
17 H SJ 20 25 422:46 20 25 2.838 3.548
29 A PHX 22 30 482:37 22 30 2.735 3.730
30 A SJ 25 32 547:37 24 32 2.630 3.506
31 H SJ 28 36 608:57 27 36 2.660 3.547
36 H PHX 28 37 668:57 27 37 2.422 3.319
46 H LA 30 38 728:57 29 38 2.387 3.128
54 H PHX 32 41 790:10 31 41 2.354 3.113
63 A PHX 35 43 850:10 34 43 2.400 3.035
64 A ANA 38 47 915:06 37 47 2.426 3.082
65 A SJ 41 49 975:06 40 49 2.461 3.015
66 A LA 45 52 1035:44 44 52 2.549 3.012
69 H LA 47 55 1095:44 46 55 2.519 3.012
70 H SJ 50 61 1155:43 49 61 2.544 3.167
73 H ANA 53 65 1217:25 52 65 2.563 3.204
75 A PHX 54 67 1282:25 53 66 2.480 3.088
76 A SJ 54 73 1342:25 53 72 2.369 3.218
77 A LA 55 76 1402:25 54 75 2.310 3.209
78 A ANA 59 79 1462:25 58 78 2.380 3.200

 

When you look at the stats, the first thing that should jump out to anyone is that the Stars were in a negative goal differential right out of the gate. That is if you disregard Brad Richards' 5-on-3 goal that gave Dallas a brief 1-0 lead in their first divisional game against Los Angeles way back on October 26th.

As it was, Los Angeles and Anaheim delivered back to back 5-2 drubbings to put the Stars at a -6 goal differential. And they never really got close to even treading water in this department finishing up with a -20 differential.

So naturally after looking at that stat, I'm sure you'll knee-jerk in pointing your finger of blame at the special teams. And you'd be about half-right.

But not for the reasons you might think.

Game H/A Opp PP G GA GF/60 GA/60 SH G GA GF/60 GA/60
8 H ANA 6:43 1 0 8.933 0.000 7:01 0 1 0 8.551
9 H LA 16:33 2 1 7.251 3.625 11:32 0 2 0 10.405
12 H PHX 25:08 6 1 14.324 2.387 22:47 0 3 0 7.901
14 A LA 32:49 6 1 10.970 1.828 36:23 0 5 0 8.246
15 A ANA 36:40 6 1 9.818 1.636 41:41 0 6 0 8.637
16 H ANA 44:24 7 1 9.459 1.351 52:10 0 7 0 8.051
17 H SJ 50:39 8 1 9.477 1.185 62:10 0 7 0 6.756
29 A PHX 63:53 9 2 8.453 1.878 68:35 0 8 0 6.999
30 A SJ 68:33 10 2 8.753 1.751 70:35 0 8 0 6.800
31 H SJ 69:58 12 2 10.291 1.715 81:06 0 9 0 6.658
36 H PHX 73:58 12 2 9.734 1.622 89:06 0 9 0 6.061
46 H LA 81:28 14 2 10.311 1.473 92:23 0 9 0 5.845
54 H PHX 83:28 14 2 10.064 1.438 97:39 0 11 0 6.759
63 A PHX 89:41 15 2 10.035 1.338 101:39 0 11 0 6.493
64 A ANA 95:21 16 2 10.068 1.259 104:56 0 13 0 7.433
65 A SJ 99:21 16 2 9.663 1.208 110:56 1 13 0.541 7.031
66 A LA 105:21 16 2 9.112 1.139 119:56 2 13 1.001 6.504
69 H LA 111:21 16 2 8.621 1.078 125:31 2 14 0.956 6.692
70 H SJ 118:28 17 4 8.610 2.026 130:34 3 15 1.379 6.893
73 H ANA 122:28 18 4 8.819 1.960 137:19 3 16 1.311 6.991
75 A PHX 125:39 19 4 9.073 1.910 139:19 3 16 1.292 6.891
76 A SJ 131:39 19 4 8.659 1.823 144:19 3 17 1.247 7.068
77 A LA 131:39 19 4 8.659 1.823 144:19 3 17 1.247 7.068
78 A ANA 141:44 20 5 8.467 2.117 148:00 3 17 1.216 6.892

As you can see, the power play actually did a pretty good job in the 24 divisional games this season, potting 20 for a GF/60 of 8.466. And the PK unit held opposing power play units to a lower GA/60 of 6.892 on 17 goals.

The problem for the special teams was that by the 9th game of the year, the Stars hit what turned out to be the halfway mark for goals at 10. They added two goals against San Jose at home to bump that up to 12. So in their final 14 divisional games, the power play only managed to score eight times.

And the stats also say that the Stars had issues on the power play stopping the other team from scoring short handed the rest of the way as they finished with 5 shorties against. Almost half of those where given up in that infamous 6-3 loss to San Jose on March 15th when they surrendered a pair of empty net 6-on-4 goals.

No, if you want to point a finger of blame at any aspect of the Stars game against their Pacific bunk mates, look no further than the 5-on-5 play.

Game H/A Opp ES G GA GF/60 GA/60 5on5 G GA GF/60 GA/60 4on4 G GA GF/60 GA/60
8 H ANA 46:10 1 4 1.300 5.199 44:38 1 4 1.344 5.377 1:32 0 0 0.000 0.000
9 H LA 91:49 2 7 1.307 4.574 89:45 2 7 1.337 4.680 2:04 0 0 0.000 0.000
12 H PHX 131:59 4 9 1.818 4.091 129:55 4 9 1.847 4.157 2:04 0 0 0.000 0.000
14 A LA 170:42 5 10 1.757 3.515 166:42 5 10 1.800 3.599 4:00 0 0 0.000 0.000
15 A ANA 221:33 7 13 1.896 3.521 217:33 7 13 1.931 3.585 4:00 0 0 0.000 0.000
16 H ANA 263:20 8 13 1.823 2.962 256:09 8 13 1.874 3.045 7:11 0 0 0.000 0.000
17 H SJ 309:57 12 17 2.323 3.291 300:12 11 17 2.199 3.398 9:45 1 0 6.154 0.000
29 A PHX 350:09 13 20 2.228 3.427 340:24 12 20 2.115 3.525 9:45 1 0 6.154 0.000
30 A SJ 408:29 14 22 2.056 3.231 393:44 13 22 1.981 3.353 14:45 1 0 4.068 0.000
31 H SJ 457:53 15 25 1.966 3.276 443:08 14 25 1.896 3.385 14:45 1 0 4.068 0.000
36 H PHX 505:53 15 26 1.779 3.084 491:08 14 26 1.710 3.176 14:45 1 0 4.068 0.000
46 H LA 555:06 15 27 1.621 2.918 539:38 14 27 1.557 3.002 15:28 1 0 3.879 0.000
54 H PHX 609:03 17 28 1.675 2.758 587:35 16 28 1.634 2.859 21:28 1 0 2.795 0.000
63 A PHX 658:50 19 30 1.730 2.732 637:22 18 30 1.694 2.824 21:28 1 0 2.795 0.000
64 A ANA 714:49 21 32 1.763 2.686 684:46 20 31 1.752 2.716 30:03 1 1 1.997 1.997
65 A SJ 764:49 23 34 1.804 2.667 734:46 22 33 1.796 2.695 30:03 1 1 1.997 1.997
66 A LA 810:27 26 37 1.925 2.739 775:46 24 36 1.856 2.784 34:41 2 1 3.460 1.730
69 H LA 858:52 28 39 1.956 2.725 822:11 26 38 1.897 2.773 36:41 2 1 3.271 1.636
70 H SJ 906:41 29 42 1.919 2.779 870:00 27 41 1.862 2.828 36:41 2 1 3.271 1.636
73 H ANA 957:38 31 45 1.942 2.819 918:17 28 43 1.830 2.810 39:21 3 2 4.574 3.050
75 A PHX 1017:27 31 46 1.828 2.713 973:06 28 44 1.726 2.713 44:21 3 2 4.059 2.706
76 A SJ 1066:27 31 51 1.744 2.869 1022:06 28 49 1.644 2.876 44:21 3 2 4.059 2.706
77 A LA 1126:27 32 54 1.704 2.876 1080:06 29 52 1.611 2.889 46:21 3 2 3.883 2.589
78 A ANA 1172:41 35 56 1.791 2.865 1126:20 32 54 1.705 2.877 46:21 3 2 3.883 2.589

 

Yes, that's correct. Dallas was outscored in 5-on-5 situations within the division to the tune of 54-32.

The closest Dallas got to treading water in this category was -3 in their first game against Los Angeles. And that was thanks to a Dane Coo...err...Brandon Segal garbage time goal.

As a point of comparison, the Stars outscored the opposition 118-98 in non-Pacific division games in 5-on-5 situations.

And if these stats don't tell you Dallas needs to improve their play within the division, the fact that they lost the season series to Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Phoenix by a combined 9 points should tell you all you need to know.

And apologies if my mentioning of that stat conjures up memories of Lubomir Visnovsky, Teemu Selanne, and Michal Handzus throwing late regulation daggers into your heart from this past season.

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