DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 14: This is the least depressing photo provided by Getty or AP today. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
For a 40 minute stretch the Dallas Stars were able to hang tight with the Detroit Red Wings. That 40 minute stretch began with initial faceoff of the second period after the Stars were fortunately only down 2-0. The Stars had no answer for the Wings defensively in the first period. They put the Stars on their heels quickly, and ultimately generated the most lopsided chance differential of the season.
The Stars were outchanced 23-10 for the game after a 13-0 first period. The shots were closer than that after one frame, but the Stars shots again came from the perimeter early. Those shots will never lead to chances if you can't generate rebounds. The Stars couldn't, and when the buzzer sounded the Stars worst period of the season concluded.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The scoring chance differential of -13 goes in the books as the biggest of the season, and it all came from one period. It wasn't from a lack of effort though. The Stars were passive, but trying. The Wings are simply better. The offensive depth they possess will shred any team with defensive holes. The Stars second line is a defensive hole, and the third line isn't really a checking line. The Wings emphasized both of those points in their 3-1 victory last night. The individual player reports bear this out, and you can find those after the jump.
The Stars defensive issues were on full display in the first period last night. The individual chance report is attached at the bottom per usual. Check out the green column in the first period. Ignore the Henrik Zetterberg goal since it was on the powerplay. The first five even strength chances were all against the Vernon Fiddler group. Two of those were from the stick of Drew Miller. The next was the Darren Helm goal against the Jamie Benn unit. The next five were against the Mike Ribeiro line. It's just one game, but those two long stretches of defensive issues highlight the Stars defensive and depth problems. I suppose we already knew that to a degree, but those two stretches really leap off the page.
The offense was problematic too, but when you're spending all of your energy running around in your own end it's almost inevitable that the offense is going to struggle. After the first period the Stars were able to consistently generate offensive pressure (and keep the puck away from Kari Lehtonen), but the sweltering Wings defense didn't allow for many scoring opportunities. It appears that at some point Tomas Vincour was being maneuvered around to generate more offense, and deservedly so. The first time I noticed him last night was as he was sliding into the boards after (not, apparently) being interfered with halfway through the third period. He has to do more to keep getting minutes.
Trevor Daley might be having nightmares about this game until the offseason. He was -9 chances at even strength to "lead" the Stars. His partner Nicklas Grossman was -7. Ribeiro was -7. Eric Nystrom was -6. Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson were -5. Fiddler and Radek Dvorak were -4. It just wasn't pretty. Benn, Stephane Robidas, Alex Goligoski, Tom Wandell, Jake Dowell, and Steve Ott were the only guys in the green on the chance sheet with +1's and Ott's +2.
That was ugly, but keep your heads up. Did anyone really expect the Stars to go into Detroit and walk away with two points? I think we all hoped for the best, but in reality the Stars aren't as good as the Wings. That simple fact (and the remaining games against Vancouver/San Jose) further emphasize how critical games against teams at the bottom of the conference are to the Stars chances of making the playoffs. They have the Flames on Thursday, and if they fancy themselves as a playoff club they need to take care of business.