Installment number two of the review of the Stars scoring chances recorded throughout the year is now at your fingertips. This collection is focused solely on special teams play. I've taken the recorded scoring chances for the significant contributors to both special teams units, and displayed them after the jump.
Significant is a pretty loose term in this case. Anyone that either played more than ten minutes on either unit and was with the team for the full season is listed.So, when you don't see Michael Ryder listed on the penalty killing totals you will know why. As always there are a few surprises regarding where players graded out.
Let's start with the effective unit. The Stars penalty killing was superb down the stretch and ultimately finished 13th in the league after a spell in the top ten.
SHTOI: Shorthanded Time On Ice SHf: Chances For; SHa: Chances Against; SH Δ/2: Chance Differential/2 Min
The Stars had a few standouts on the penalty kill. In limited time The Stars top penalty killer in 2011/12 was Jamie Benn. In 48 minutes shorthanded Benn was excellent. For every two minutes he was on the ice during a penalty kill you could expect him to get outchanced by a little bit under half a scoring chance which is phenomenal on the penalty kill. The interesting aspect about the penalty killing is how high the skilled players with skating ability ranked (outside of Eric Nystrom).
Speaking of Nystrom, he was an excellent penalty killer this season. He has many shortcomings which should keep him out of the top nine forwards for any team hoping to compete for the Cup, but he does contribute if given an appropriate role. He is the ideal fourth line energy guy. He offers bonus value by being such a good penalty killer. He'll be back next year, but hopefully it will be in a more appropriate role than on the third line.
The bottom of the chart is a bit surprising too. I wouldn't have guessed that Adam Burish was that much of a liability shorthanded, but, alas, he was while allowing 3x as many chances as Benn. Stephane Robidas and Mark Fistric aren't big shockers at the bottom of the list for those watching closely this year. Robidas was pretty good at even strength, but he did struggle on the penalty kill. Fistric, who a group of fans really love, is in no way shape or form a shutdown defensive player. In an elevated role after the Nicklas Grossmann trade he was unable to keep the pace. He went on to give up 33% more chances than Grossmann did in his time here this year.
With the pleasantries out of the way let us move on to the biggest Stars liability this past season. The powerplay finished in dead last, .1 behind the playoff-bound Coyotes. The Stars best powerplay forward this season was none other than Loui Eriksson who generated almost one full net chance per two minutes of powerplay time. The top blueliner was Alex Goligoski at .79.
The Stars poorest powerplay performers should come as no surprise. Two issues with the rankings stick out that contributed greatly to the 30th place finish. First, the top players didn't perform at an elite level. The Stars solid penalty killing regulars were in the .90 chance differential range. Outside of Eriksson no Stars regular powerplayer broke .8. The Stars are going to need to find a way to get more out of their top powerplay unit next season. That unit has to take more shots, and they had opportunities to do so this past season. Next year they must.
The other under reported problem with the powerplay was Philip Larsen. Everyone loves Larsen. I appreciate the development he went through this season too. He took several steps forward defensively, became more physical, and really improved his positioning. Unfortunately he has a very immature offensive game. Defensemen take longer to develop than forwards normally, and Larsen does have offensive ability. Those tools have yet to translate into production though, and his consistenty powerplay time in the second half of the season unfortunately coincides with the massive tailspin the powerplay as a whole went into. It definitely isn't all his fault, but leaving him on the point instead of Souray for as long as the Stars did is an inexcusable tactical blunder that, in the perfect storm that was 2012 season, could have cost the Stars playoff hockey.
The next installment will be splits of the info. As of right now we're looking at team by team, period by period, pre vs post All Star Break, and home versus road splits. If there are any others you would like to see let me know in the comments.