The final score is one that Stars fans and Coyotes fans alike should have seen coming.
The only real question is who was going to come out on top this time around. Unfortunately for Stars' fans, it was not going to be Dallas.
The game was certainly there to be won, or at the very least tied, up until the dying seconds of the game. With two 90+ second 5-on-3 power plays, there were also some major opportunities for the Stars to get back in the game as well.
Give full credit to the Phoenix team, for playing the stifling defense that they are so well known for, and blocking what (I believe) was near 30 shots during the game. Glen Gulutzan recognized the effort the Coyotes gave as well:
"Sometimes you've got to give the other team credit. I thought they played hard defensively and they got in our lanes. I thought we needed to be a little bit better at net presence and getting the shots past the first defenders rather than getting them blocked. That's something we stressed in between the first and second, but they did a good job."
However, there was one issue that suck out to me more than any other, and that was the Stars' Power Play. Lately, it has really been clicking, cashing in on 31.8% of their chances over their last six games. There are two major reasons for their recent success. The first is Jaromir Jagr, and the second is puck movement.
Last night, one of those things scored his 5th power play goal of the season, while the other was nonexistent during the 5-on-3 opportunities.
Granted, it still is a drastic improvement compared to last season -- it just did not live up to what we might come to expect over the last couple of weeks. With those kind of chances, especially when trailing against the Coyotes, the Starshave to be able to score. Even the players knew that was their best chance to do it. When Stephane Robidas was discussing the game, he had this to say:
"We had a five-on-three in the third period for a minute-and-half. That was our chance to get back in the game, and we couldn't do it. That gave them momentum the rest of the game."
Gulutzan wished that things could have ended differently as well:
"We should have got a point. 2-0 against these guys, it's not easy to come back. We had lots of time and chances, we just didn't convert. Better fate, I don't know. I wish we could have got a point out of here."
So what went wrong on the power play? In my mind, it wasn't really anything drastic. It just seems like they were over thinking a bit. And, believe or not, relying a little too much on Jaromir Jagr.
With as much offense and puck possession as Jagr generates, he is a natural quarterback for the Stars' primary power play unit. He was certainly that last night, as he was directing the entire play of those 5-on-3s as they progressed. Ultimately, I think this was part of the problem, particularly on their second such chance.
The rest of the unit would either pass the puck back to Jagr for him to control it, or they would look to him for direction on where to go, who to pass to, and if they should shoot. It led to less movement, delayed reactions, and allowed the Coyotes to dive in the way and block even more pucks. If whatever Dallas player had the puck checked for open lanes first, and made a few more independent decisions, I don't think there would have been the same problems.
Again, this is a very, very minor complaint in the big scheme of things. After all, with as much offense as Jagr has created, it's only natural to let him take charge of the power play, in the hopes that he will score again. And he did just that on the first 5-on-3 as well. However, timing is everything, especially at the NHL level, and that fraction of a second when they were overthinking may have cost the Stars at least one point last night.
As always with every loss, the best thing to do is to learn lessons from what went wrong, remember them, and keep them from happening again in the future. And if the Stars can get back to a +30% power play, that would be a-okay with me.
Coming up in today's links: How the Stars have already won the Stanley Cup this year, an odd misconduct penalty, and what might be the best shootout goal I've ever seen.
- Mark Stepneski has his recap of last night's loss to the Yotes, including some notes, quotes, and
stoteser,,,, Stats. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Texas Rangers' pitcher Derek Holland is a big fan of the Dallas Stars, and the sport of hockey itself. So much so, that he decided to go see the Stars at the morning skate yesterday, when he was due to pitch later that night. [Dallas News]
- Here, Gretzky talks about how Sidney Crosby is the best player in the game today. There's nothing quite like having your career compared to The Great One, is there? [ESPN]
- What if the Stanley Cup was a "challenge" cup, where the cup is on the line every time the winner plays a game? According to that method, the Stars were Stanley Cup Champions once already this season. Also, it's impossible for the Eastern Conference to win it. I like this set up. [Puck Daddy]
- In what may be titled as "dumbest 10-minute game misconduct in the history of ever," Vinny Prospal is tossed after going "scoreboard" on the Wings during the Jackets' 3-0 victory. So if that's unsportsmanlike and deserves an ejection, what about the words/actions said that caused him to point to the board, eh? [Puck Daddy]
- After the most recent fighting injury from the Ottawa Senators, here's an interesting proposal that might meet half way between the two sides of the argument -- eject fighters from the rest of the game. Fighting would still be allowed, but it would certainly eliminate the ones that are "for show," wouldn't it? [Globe And Mail]
- For your video of the day, here's one of the better shootout goals I think I've ever seen. If you don't put your fist to your mouth and say, "Oooooohhhhh!!!" I'll be very upset. This is from the KHL junior league, and here's the link for more info.