As your Dallas Stars prepare for tonight's matchup with the Detroit Red Wings we look back on the exciting win that was the Stars 4-2 defeat of the Boston Bruins. The Stars played the game we all hoped they would, and thankfully they were rewarded for their efforts. The past few weeks have brought numerous excuses out of the woodwork for the Stars lackluster play. Everything from finances to injuries, and everything in between, had been cited as contributing to the lack of consistency.
Excuses like those are easy for anyone in any walk of life to use for their poor performance. Unfortunately for the individual using them, excuses like those tend to mask correctable problems which are contributing to the poor results. In the case of the Stars those excuses were easy ways to write off a few losses that could have been wins if the Stars played with more energy. Against the Bruins the Stars came out full of energy, and carried that level of play throughout most of the game. The fruits of that labor are below:
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The Stars basically stood up to the defending champs and punched them in the mouth. The Bruins outchanced the Stars 10-8, but the game was an even match despite Sheldon Souray and Stephane Robidas both missing with Philip Larsen getting knocked out mid-game. The individual player reports are after the jump.
Alex Goligoski was in the middle of everything that happened for the Stars both good and bad during Big D NYE. At even strength the Stars played a part in twelve chances for and against. Goligoski was on ice for ten of those, four up and six down. The Stars had six minutes of powerplay time. Goligoski was on the ice for five of those minutes and he was involved in all three scoring chances recorded with the Stars up the extra man. He was also out there for one of the chances against on the penalty kill.
When you add those numbers together you get 14. Goligoski was on the ice for 14 of the 18 total chances against the Bruins. I don't know what that means, if anything, but it's interesting.
The most positive player of the game was Jamie Benn at +2 chances. The Benn, Michael Ryder, and Loui Eriksson line followed the energetic example set by the third line to have a whale of a game. It would be hard to seriously nitpick at any individual after a game like that so I won't. The Stars, as a team, played a commendable game.
The impact the injury situation has had on the ice time distribution of the defensive corps is about what one would expect. Trevor Daley and Niklas Grossman are operating as the top pair with Daley acting as the alpha male. Daley racked up 25:31 of ice time, including four minutes on the powerplay as a member of the newly anointed primary power play unit anchored up front by Benn and Eriksson.
Those of you that have been waiting for Eriksson and Benn to break out might be in store for a show in the very near future. Over their careers they've gotten very little powerplay time relative to their offensive skills. If the Stars continue loading the powerplay the way they did against Boston they will be putting their top offensive guys in an excellent position to succeed. Both have been valuable scorers at the NHL level so far in their careers despite second unit-type powerplay time. They could be due for a huge breakout, particularly Benn who is still shooting just 8.5% on the season.
The powerplay in general was a success against the Bruins because of results, but the process that achieved those results was drastically different. The Stars new top unit was very active in the attacking zone. No one really stood around. The top end speed and passing skills of the unit really allowed them to change the point of attack almost whenever they wanted to. I think that the tendency to want to feed Souray the puck over and over really hurt the powerplay. They continuously fed him for a bomb, and that led to the rest of the skaters to inadvertently stand around instead of moving around to generate defensive confusion. The penalty killers always knew what was coming whereas on 12/31 the Bruins couldn't anticipate what the Stars were doing as easily.
The nuts and bolts of the game can be found above. It has too much Tyler Seguiin on it.
The puck hogging Red Wings will try to keep the puck away from the Stars in five and a half hours. The Stars have no choice but to play tonight's game identically to the Bruins game if they want to compete. They can't coast by on talent alone because the excuses that led them to the rut they were in are legitimate problems that, right now, can only be overcome by outworking the guy in red. The Stars are trying to brand themselves as #PeskyStars, and they showed why against the Bruins. It doesn't mean much if they come out flat against the Red Wings. The best teams in the league are consistent. The Stars have a chance tonight to show that they want to be one of those teams.