At 12:30 AM the Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings finished the shootout that capped the most enjoyable Stars game of the season. The Stars 5-4 shootout victory featured several lead changes, fights, and a few giant hits. It might be cliche, but I don't think those two teams really like each other. If Brenden Morrow and Dustin Brown passed by on the street there is a greater than zero chance that unpleasant words would be exchanged that would lead to a fight between Morrow and someone else on the Kings. But, I digress.
In the shootout victory the Stars outchanced the Kings 21-13. The Kings outshot the Stars 41-38, but an inordinate amount of the shots weren't anything dangerous. Quick math says that about 75% of the Kings shots were of the hopeful variety vs 50% for the Stars.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
At even strength the Stars outchanced the Kings 18-9. The Kings had the upper hand on special teams 3-4 including Jack Johnson's 5v3 three goal ripped from the top of the circle. Both teams had severe defensive issues (Nicklas Grossman and Slava Voynov, wave hello to the crowd), but the unpredictability of the chaotic defense added another layer to the excitement. Much like the game itself, the player report is chaotic. That, and the detailed chance report, can be found when you follow the jump.
Grossman is going to end up being one of the big stories to come from last night's game. He had a poor night, but I think he's going to end up being victimized the way Stephane Robidas gets victimized. Whenever Robidas makes a mistake it's generally an egregious error that leads to a quality chance for the opposition. More often than not when Robidas is on the ice positive things happen, but his mistakes are magnified. Last night Grossman made a few terrible decisions, but at even strength he was still a +4 chances. The overall results tend to get lost in the shuffle sometimes due to a few singular events sticking out, particularly when it comes to defensive defensemen. He did have a mediocre night shorthanded by his standards though, but I don't expect that to continue.
The Stars biggest positives were Trevor Daley, Radek Dvorak, and Alex Goligoski. Daley was a remarkable +8 at even strength last night while being involved in 18 of the 34 total chances for both teams. Dvorak put up an always impressive +5 from a checking role. Goligoski appears to also be back on track as he was a +5 at even strength with another 3 chances for on the powerplay.
When Glen Gulutzan said he was going to find ways to get Jamie Benn more ice time he wasn't lying. The Stars lone All Star representative was on the ice for close to 25 minutes last night with Gulutzan double shifting him at times with the fourth line. Poor Toby Petersen was the collateral damage last night with only 2:34 of ice time. The Benn double shifting issue has raised a few questions in my mind. I'm fine with the idea of double shifting him if he can handle the minutes physically. But, with Mike Ribeiro sidelined why not slip Benn on the ice with Morrow and Loui Eriksson for a double shift? It makes more sense to me to get him extra ice time with talented offensive players than with fourth liners. Tom Wandell isn't killing the line, but he isn't creating offense so much as benefiting from the offensive players around him.
If the thought is to get Benn out there with the fourth line to get him on the ice against inferior competition then I can definitely see the argument, but I think at this point he has proven that he's an elite player. Regardless of what you throw at him defensively he's going to get his. He and Eriksson have been far and away the Stars best players this season. I think players of that caliber need to be playing with the best offensive talent you can surround them with, competition be damned.
The next Stars foe is another club fighting for one of the final playoff spots out West: Colorado. They face off at 2:00 pm on Saturday. They've had some interesting games so far this season. Both of those included more Matt Duchene than I would like to think about. The Stars need to continue picking up points. Another yeoman effort against the Avalanche like they put on the ice against the Kings will go a long way towards gaining more ground in the Western Conference. If you have any scoring questions or comments leave me a comment or send me a Tweet @Josh1220.