After four games we unequivocally know one thing about the 2012 Dallas Stars: they give up a ton of shots, and most nights they're going to get outshot. Despite the egregious shot totals the Stars are 3-1 through four games so something somewhere is working. You can call it luck if you like. The idea supporting luck is that if a team continues to get outshot at the rate the Stars are eventually they will be in a world of pain.
However, at this point, I think we've seen that not all shots are created equal. A shot from the top of the circle, from the half boards, or from the point isn't as valuable as a shot from the slot. The Stars are getting outshot, but they aren't getting outchanced by much. Scoring chances paint a very different picture of the Stars 3-2 win over the Blues. Follow the jump to see how much the Blues actually outchanced the Stars, if they did at all.
Before we dive into the charts I need to pass along an editorial note. The most difficult part about appropriately assigning scoring chances when you first begin doing it is assigning a scoring chance to a player taking a shot right on the borderline of the defined area. This task gets more difficult when the first two games you chart match a team searching for a quasi-defensive identity under a rookie head coach versus a volume shooting recent Stanley Cup champion. In the first two games I was too liberal with the chances I awarded both teams. The premise that the Hawks out chanced the Stars is still very valid, but the numbers themselves are inflated. So, what that means is that I am going to be more conservative in awarding chances. Thus, I have updated the Scoring Chance entry in the DBD Glossary to reflect the change. You can now find the following phrase added:
If a shot is taken on the border of the defined area, but doesn't lead to what I deem a significant scoring opportunity, it will not be counted.
The charts for Stars versus Blues tell an interesting story. The Blues outshot the Stars 38-24 on the night, including 26-12 after the first period. A 14 shot defecit usually suggests one team is being dominated by another, but the scoring chances on the night paint a different picture:
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
On the night, the Stars were outchanced 14-10. As you will see when you get down to the final chart, three of those chances were in a span of three seconds by Matt D'Agostini when no one on the ice was able to box him out from picking up two rebounds, and, ultimately, a goal. If you isolate that stretch the Stars were outchanced 11-10 in the game. For the first time this season they generated more powerplay chances than they allowed, and they again proved to be a solid defensive team.
The idea Gulutzan is presenting to the media is that the Stars will let teams shoot from the outside all day if they want to, and the scoring chances prove that the sentiments aren't bogus. The Stars aren't allowing boatloads of prime scoring chances, and when they do Kari Lehtonen is usually there to bail them out, three chances on the doorstep in three seconds for Matt D'Agostini excluded.
The player chart for game number four is one that neither Trevor Daley or Nicklas Grossman will ever want to look at:
The Daley/Grossman duo had a rough night. Grossman was a -7 in the scoring chance battle while his partner Daley was a -8. You might have guessed that these two were out there for the D'Agostini barrage. If you did assume this you're right. They (obviously) have to do a better job clearing the slot of rebounds going forward. Even without that three second stretch they were a -4 and a -5 on the night.
The Vernon Fiddler, Radek Dvorak, and Adam Burish line had their first down night of the season as they each were a -3 in the scoring chance column despite generating two chances. They've been good this season though, and there is no reason to think that last night's game was anything other than a blip on the radar. Also, the Fiddler trio was the forward group on the ice for the D'Agostini explosion. On the bright side, Sheldon Souray was a +3 chances, and Stephane Robidas was a +2. Overall, it was a solid game for the Stars.
Below you will find the scoring chance event summary. This is the money chart. The Stars were able to generate some shots later in the game, but watching the game made it seem like the Stars were never in the Blues zone. I don't know if they were in the Blues zone without watching again, but I do know that after Brenden Morrow scored to make the game 3-0 the Stars were unable to generate a single chance until there was 1:41 remaining in the third period. They went roughly 23 minutes without generating a chance, but still won.
As the Stars gear up to face the Blue Jackets saturday night keep in mind that the shots don't matter. If the Blue Jackets outshoot the Stars 55-20 make mental notes of where the shots are coming from. The Stars protect the interior areas of the ice as well as any team they've played so far. The system keeps the defensemen from being as exposed as they have been the past few years, and that is reflected in the scoring chance data. If you're paying close enough attention you will see that the shots flung at Kari Lehtonen, usually, aren't that big of a deal, and that the 2012 Dallas Stars are a responsible team in their own end. Gasp!