Stars Place Emphasis on Special Teams Friday as Power Play Falters

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

"We're just standing around looking for plays instead of shooting pucks at the net and creating things off of rebounds in my opinion," Brenden Morrow remarked about the Dallas power play Thursday night.

Thursday the Dallas Stars trailed the Vancouver Canucks by a single goal late in the third period and were awarded a power play heading into the final TV timeout of the evening with just 5:09 to play. A golden opportunity to tie the game and possibly get to overtime then came and went with two faceoff wins, but without a single shot on goal, and only one attempted: A Stephane Robidas slap shot blocked 1:33 into the man-advantage.

With the effort the Stars power play moved to scoreless on its last 12 attempts, and to just 5 conversions in its last 40 overall going back a couple of weeks (12.5%).

"I think any power play that's not working you've just got to keep it simple," Stars captain Brenden Morrow remarked after the loss. "We're putting a lot of work into our breakout, thinking of plays we can do, low plays. All successful power plays are getting the pucks to the point, getting shots to the net. We're just standing around looking for plays instead of shooting pucks at the net and creating things off of rebounds in my opinion."

Mark Stepneski reports that the Stars spent upwards of 40 minutes on special teams work in practice on Friday. So it seems like a good time to once again wonder how many pucks the Stars are actually getting to the opponents net while up a man.

Here's an excerpt from my post "Digging Deeper Into the Dallas Stars' Franchise-Worst Power Play" last off-season...

Here are the worst five PPSOG per two-minutes of PP time over the last five years:

Season Team PPSOG/2 Minutes of PP Time
2007-2008 EDM 1.312
2011-2012 DAL 1.341
2007-2008 STL 1.377
2011-2012 PHX 1.391
2010-2011 EDM 1.463

Once again, the Stars make the list, notching the 149th place of 150 over the last five years of power play history in the league. When they say they need to put more pucks on net, they aren't kidding. For every two minutes of power play time they manage just 1.34 shots on goal.

So have they improved on this number and thrown more pucks on net?

Their PPSOG/2 minutes of PP time this year comes in at: 1.474 thus far.

As you can see, that doesn't quite make this list of worst rates among the last 150 "seasons" (last five years), but it comes pretty close.

That ranks 26th in the current season, above Vancouver (1.40) who must have a pretty nice PP shooting percentage that may or may not last, Detroit (1.35), Tampa Bay (1.30), enjoying a 22% shooting percentage on the job, and Winnipeg (1.05, ouch), so PP shooting overall could be a bit down to start 2013. The best teams are Ottawa (2.02) and Columbus (1.97), so more pucks at the net doesn't necessarily equal success, but with teams having played as few as 14 games it's really too early to say.

If we consider all CORSI events (goals, shots, misses, shots attempted that are blocked) the Stars are throwing 2.968 pucks toward the net per 2:00 PP time. League wide context is harder to get there, but Stars opponents have thrown 3.373 pucks toward the net per 2:00 PP time- So Dallas can be said to be attempting about 87% of what the opposition does, and get only about 83% of pucks actually on net that their opponents do per 2:00 of power play time. (1.474 versus 1.775)

"We need to shoot the puck more," Loui Eriksson told media Friday after practice of the power play. "We need to work hard. We need to get the puck on net, win the battles in the corners and everything."

Brenden Dillon?

As the Brenden Dillon evolution revolution continues, could it be possible that he sees more time on the man advantage somewhere down the line? He co-leads the team in shots from a defenseman this season (34), which is top-20 in the league among blue-liners. He's seen a whopping 10 minutes~ total of power play time this season, but his on-ice CORSI in a (very) limited sample size is among the best on the team. (See Behind The Net.ca for that...)

Then there's also the fact that he leads the defense in goals at three.

Is it too much, though, for a rookie who's already had "top-pairing" type minutes thrust upon him, at least at even strength? He's playing 19:24 per game, and the only thing keeping him from matching Robidas' team-high 21:45 is power-play time. Whether the Stars would trust him so soon to have the puck-poise necessary "on the job" is unknown, and getting pucks through from the point is an art. His shot totals at even strength may not translate. Just something to consider.

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