The Dallas Stars didn't quite get the two points they needed against the visiting Minnesota Wild, but at this point in the season points are points. Glen Gulutzan tried some new line combinations with captain Brenden Morrow on the shelf that were aimed at generating more scoring opportunities (and most certainly allowing fewer against). The results were hit and miss throughout the game with miscues aplenty that clearly annoyed Gulutzan after the game. The Stars were able to eek out a shootout win though, and Tomas Vincour rewarded Gulutzan for giving him the opportunity to play in the top nine as we'll see after the jump.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
The Wild outchanced the Stars 14-8 for the game, and in every period they had the advantage. Dany Heatley played the Matt Moulson and Matt Duchene role for the Wild. He was everywhere, and it seemed like he was able to get anywhere he wanted whenever he wanted. He wasn't enough though to keep the Stars from winning in the shootout. The Stars had a few standout performers last night, and their exploits are chronicled after the jump. So, click it already.
The Stars decided to shake things up with the lineup last night. Eric Nystrom moved up in the lineup to replace the injured Morrow. In his stead Gulutzan inserted Vincour on the third line. Like I mentioned before the jump the results were hit and miss. The Benn line was exceptional again. At this point it doesn't matter who you put with Benn. His line is going to get theirs.
The second and third lines were polar opposites though. The new second line struggled as much as it has all season to generate positive results. Whoever is on the ice with Ribeiro ends up a massive negative in the chance department. If they're fortunate they break even. Loui Eriksson, Nystrom, and Ribeiro were all -5 chances at even strength. The problem is magnified by the fact that they started most of their shifts in the offensive zone which means they should be generating more offense. The biggest obstacle in the way of the Stars playoff push has been, and will continue to be, the complete lack of production from the second forward unit.
Nystrom didn't look bad in his minutes, but the biggest value he contributes is that he isn't afraid to shoot. He didn't have that opportunity last night despite the favorable starting position. His third line replacement, Vincour, has a broader skill set. His underdeveloped offensive game makes giving him top six minutes problematic right now. I've raved about Vincour for most of the season because he does just about everything else you could want out of an NHL player. Last night he was excellent defensively, in transition, and at pressuring the puck in the offensive zone. The third line was still trusted with defensive minutes, and Vincour fit in wonderfully.
Vincour vs Ribeiro is an interesting study in the difference between Corsi and Scoring Chances. Vincour was on the ice for a Corsi of -9 while starting out primarily in the defensive zone. Ribeiro was a +10 while starting out primarily in the offensive zone. Vincour was only a -1 scoring chances versus the -5 for Ribeiro. What that basically means is that the Ribeiro unit got shots, they just weren't real good shots.
The Stars top players were the members of the Benn line. Benn, Michael Ryder, Alex Goligoski, and Philip Larsen were your highest pluses last night. Stephane Robidas and Sheldon Souray had the unfortunate responsibility of trying to pay attention to Heatley. That...didn't work out well. Both guys were -6 at even strength to "lead" the Stars in the bad way.
The Stars return to the ice Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. You guessed it. These are two more critical points. The Stars are fighting with the Coyotes (among, it seems like, 35,000 others teams) for the final playoff seed in the West. Gulutzan was pretty annoyed after the game about all of the mistakes. If the Stars want to collect two critical points from the Coyotes they need to clean things up, and try to mark Shane Doan. Marking top offensive threats from the opposition is a problem for the Stars at times. They would be wise to keep tabs of where Doan is on the ice.