Ice hockey, as we all know, is a game of inches, bounces and streaks. When all hope seems lost, something often turns on and re-ignites the flame of success; when everything is going right it can come to a crashing halt because of some invisible wall we fail to wrap our heads around.
Fortunately for the Dallas Stars, neither Devin Shore or Alex Guptill has played particularly bad through the first few weeks of the season. Shore struggled at the outset, sure, but his non-point stats still showed that he was a factor and that he was doing the right things. He had a positive faceoff win percentage for most of his games, and kept registering shots as well as a lot of ice time. It was only a matter of time before things went his way.
Guptill had the opposite start. He came out of the shadows of off-season doubt and erupted for four points in five games. This week, they switched spots to some extent.
Shore had a good weekend. In two games against the University of Massachusetts he registered a goal and an assist. The assist came on the power play when he shoveled a pass to Ben Hutton as he got taken down to the ice. It was an impressive play from Shore. Even though he was on the power play, he didn't have much space and the pass he received wasn't in a very good position for him. He got taken down almost immediately as he received the puck, but was quick enough and aware enough to get it over to a teammate in scoring position. The play showed the great blend of physicality, awareness, and battle level which makes Shore such an interesting prospect.
During Saturday's game, Shore scored the game winning goal on a powerplay in overtime. It's good to see that he's finally getting on the score sheet and bounces are going his way. The way he was playing early in the season shouldn't have caused much worry, but it's hard to ignore a lack of production on the score sheet.
Here are some highlights of the two games he played:
Friday, November 1: http://www.umassathletics.com/sports/m-hockey/umas-m-hockey-body.html#
Saturday, November 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfJ_OrHddqo&feature=youtu.be
Guptill had a relatively quiet week, going pointless in the University of Michigan's two wins over Michgian Tech. At first glance, this might be a cause for concern, but it's only two games and he's still on pace for about a point per game for the season.
It can be hard to judge college players week by week because they only play two games, and it's easy for even high scoring forwards to miss a couple chances during two games and come away pointless. Alex Guptill is still doing all the right things, however. He had two shots and an even rating in Michigan's first game, so he wasn't a defensive liability and still got a few scoring chances. Then, during their second game, he took a whopping eight shots on net, even though he finished with a -1 rating.
It's good to see that he's still contributing with a lot of shots even if they aren't going in as much as we would like. His 10 shots over two games this weekend show that his lack of production during the two game set against his cross state rivals wasn't a product of coasting or not playing well, the bounces just didn't go Guptill's way for those two games.