ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 13: Warren Peters #43 of the Minnesota Wild trips over Steve Ott #29 of the Dallas Stars during the second period on March 13, 2012 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Stars defeated the Wild 1-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
All good things must come to an end eventually. Last night the Winnipeg Jets finally put an end to the Stars almost franchise record winning streak. The signs have been apparent for a few games now. The Stars have been out shot consistently over the past week, and the trademarked post All Star break energy level has waned. The energy level was particularly low in the first period of both of the games at the heart of this scoring chance update.
Tuesday night the Stars knocked off the Minnesota Wild 1-0 in one of the more boring games in recent memory. The energy was pretty low out of the chute, but fortunately for the Stars the Wild are poor offensively. The Jets, at home where are almost unbeatable, knocked off the Stars 5-2. On the road, with Kari Lehtonen resting, with five defensemen, and at the end of a long stretch of winning hockey the Stars had a let down, but that doesn't overshadow what they've accomplished lately, and the loss definitely shouldn't change anyone's perceptions about the Stars. So, with fluffy rainbow sentiments out of the way follow the jump to relive the past two games.
The Stars 1-0 victory over the Wild may have been boring, but it was effective. The Stars outchanced the Wild 14-7 which included a 12-3 edge at even strength. The Stars were more than willing to play the Wild's conservative game, and it's hard to argue with the results (aside from the boring part). The Stars didn't allow the Wild to generate a single even strength scoring chance in the first period, but that isn't because the Wild weren't attempting to generate chances. They fired the puck quickly after entering the zone almost every entry, but couldn't get to any rebounds when they were available. The Stars defense held up well while the offense struggled to gain any traction; Minnesota Wild hockey in Dallas Stars uniforms.
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The Stars top rated skater was Trevor Daley. He was +8 chances at even strength. Adam Pardy came in a close second at +7. The top performing forwards were Michael Ryder and Jamie Benn at +6 and +5 chances respectively. The Stars managed to make it through another game with no skaters in the red at even strength. That changed quickly Wednesday night.
The Stars came out completely flat against the Jets. The noise in that building is awe inspiring. It almost felt like the Stars were unprepared for scene they were talking into, and by the time they were able to react at about the midway mark of the second period the game was already over for all intents and purposes. The Jets outchanced the Stars 9-4 in the first period. With eight minutes remaining in the second period the Stars were being outchanced 16-7. This early chance deficit, poor defensive zone coverage (if you want to see how not to play defense go watch the Andrew Ladd 4-0 goal in slow motion), and poor goaltending doomed the Stars.
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The Stars most positive player against the Jets was Daley once again at +4. Philip Larsen and Vernon Fiddler came in at +3 and +2 behind Daley. They had some ugly negatives last night. Stephane Robidas was -6. Mark Fistric was -5. Alex Goligoski, Michael Ryder, and Mike Ribeiro were on the ice for ten, nine, and nine chances against. The penalty killing was actually really good. They only allowed the Jets to generate a single chance with the extra man. Robidas and Fistric were on the ice for 2+ minutes of shorthanded duty with a +1 chance differential. Loui Eriksson and Steve Ott were both also +1 on the PK. Despite the blowout the penalty killing kept on rolling.
The main idea here is to not get discouraged. If the Stars were going to hand pick a game to lose over the past three weeks this would be the one. The Jets are nasty at home, and in the Eastern Conference. The Stars have been taking care of the Minnesota's of the world which is significantly more critical than a road loss to a team in the other conference. They do have issues to sort out going forward though. Most notable of those is the blueline if the injuries continue to linger. They can't do much about injuries, but they're going to have to figure out how to best split up the ice time if Larsen is going to miss some time, and Sheldon Souray continues to heal slowly. What they can control though is their energy level. It hasn't been where it needs to be lately, and if they can flip the switch back to on in short order everything will be fine.