ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 10: Jason Blake #33 of the Anaheim Ducks is held against the boards in his game against the Dallas Stars at the Honda Center on January 10, 2012 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Stars 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The trap was set, and your Dallas Stars willingly walked right into it. The past week has seen consistent efforts that have shown us the type of game they're capable of playing at their peak. Unfortunately when you subtract an important offensive piece like Mike Ribeiro the entire dynamic of the Stars attack changes. The game started with a quality energy level, but as things moved forward the hole created by the Ribeiro injury was blatantly clear.
The Stars lost 5-2 to Anaheim. The top line played well until Jamie Benn was exhausted and bleeding. The Stars didn't allow the Ducks' first line much in the way of chances, but the Ducks second line sliced and diced the Stars second and third lines all night. Overall, the Ducks topped the Stars 11-12 in the scoring chance column, but that's skewed by the Stars first period.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The Stars got down 1-0 on the scoreboard quickly, but they were playing significantly better hockey than the Ducks. They had a scoring chance advantage of 6-1 with six minutes remaining in the first period. From that point on they would be outchanced 11-5 by the Ducks after playing mediocre second and third periods. The full tally of the chances from last night's game and the usual stuff can be found when you follow the jump.
There are a few important lessons to take from last night's 5-2 loss to the Ducks. The first is the value of Mike Ribeiro. The Stars roll recently revolved around the fact that the Stars had layered scoring. Opposing teams weren't able to single in on any one forward unit to try to stop them from scoring. Benn and Michael Ryder were able to keep chugging along, but space really opened up for Ribeiro when Loui Eriksson was put on his wing. Without Ribeiro other teams aren't as worried about the Stars second line.
The reason other teams aren't worried about the Stars second line without Ribeiro as much is because he has been replaced by Tom Wandell. It isn't my intent to bash Wandell, but he has proven time and again that he isn't a top six forward. He has a very limited offensive skill set. He does have some possession skills though, and those skills are why he is a very useful bottom line player for the Stars. However, when he is put in an offensive role he struggles. Last night he was a -3 scoring chances at even strength, and the Stars generating nothing on the powerplay in his two minutes. They don't have much of a choice but to continue using Wandell until Ribeiro is hurt, but they're going to struggle mightily to score goals consistently with him out.
The biggest positives for the Stars last night were Alex Goligoski, Michael Ryder, Steve Ott, and Jamie Benn. Goligoski was a +1 at even strength to go with a +2 on the powerplay. Ryder was a +3 at even strength and a +2 on the powerplay. Ott was a +4 at even strength, and Benn was +4 even strength and powerplay scoring chances combined.
The biggest negatives on the night were the second and third lines. Eriksson had probably his worst game of the season at -4 even strength chances. Brenden Morrow was the biggest negative at -5 even strength chances. The third line was a cumulative -2 also. Neither line played particularly well, and neither line was able to generate anything offensively. Combined the two lines created three chances. Two of those were within 10 seconds of eachother in the first period off the stick of Eric Nystrom. Neither chance was particularly dangerous either.
Thursday brings another divisional game for the Stars as they head up the road to Los Angeles to take on the struggling Kings. The Stars are going to continue struggling without Ribeiro, but the rest of the league isn't going to feel an ounce of pity. If the Stars hope to make the playoffs they're going to have to get a gut check, and play with the maximum amount of energy that they can muster on just about every shift. If you have any scoring questions feel free to leave a comment or send me a Tweet @Josh1220 using the fancy technology below.