The past two weeks have seen a run of ugly defeats generated from poor defense and virtually no discernible offensive pressure. The Stars had been visibly frustrated on the ice, and Glen Gulutzan spoke what appeared to be his first angry public sentiments as an NHL head coach when he said, among other things, that his team was going to stop whining, play like men, and "shut up". Last night they answered the bell and punished the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in what was the Stars first real dominant effort since they beat the Washington Capitals two weeks ago from today.
For the first time this season the Stars generated consistent offensive zone pressure. The defensive zone they've dropped into this season appeared to lead to some complacency lately, but last night the Stars aggressively defended their own net, made smart decisions with the puck in transition, and worked hard in the offensive zone to set up the cycle. From the pregame ownership celebration to the final buzzer (and despite way too much Gary Bettman) the game was a pleasant departure from the past two weeks. The Stars outchanced Edmonton 15-7 by riding the wave of a dominant second period. The Stars played a nearly flawless game, and got the outcome they deserved. Follow the jump to see what a nearly perfect Dallas Stars effort looks like in table form.
If you enjoy seeing the detailed report of scoring chances you're going to be disappointed today. I accidentally removed one line of code last night when formatting this, and SBN's convenient but hyper-active auto save system turned the table into a paragraph thus eliminating any chance of that information being in the daily recap because I don't have the energy to regenerate the table. So, I'm sorry.
As I mentioned before the jump, the Stars outchanced Edmonton 15-7 for the game. The second period might have been the most dominant second period the Stars have played this season. In the second period this season the Stars are being outchanced 69-110, but against the Oilers the Stars commanded the second period with an 8-2 advantage.
Unlike the Stars last game against the Sharks where I felt the penalty issue was unfairly being scapegoated as the primary reason for the loss, it was definitely an issue against Edmonton. The Stars were shorthanded for ten minutes, and they only were able to play on the powerplay for four. The special teams results are another example of how well the Stars played though. Despite the disparity in powerplay time the Stars played the Oilers straight up on special teams at two chances aside.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
If you can say anything about the early tenure of Glen Gulutzan it's that he is willing to tinker with his lineup when things aren't going well. People generally focus on line changes and defensive pair changes as tangible evidence of tinkering. They are, but they aren't the only evidence. Gulutzan does most of his tinkering on the tactical side. The most notable change last night wasn't the insertion of Tomas Vincour (more on that in a minute) or Philip Larsen. No, the most notable change was getting Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson copious amounts of even strength ice time. Eriksson led all Stars forwards in even strength ice time by two minutes, and overall ice time by five.
Coincidentally enough the Benn line was the Stars top line at even strength. Benn, Eriksson, and Michael Ryder were +6, +6, and +5 chances at even strength respectively. Stephane Robidas and Sheldon Souray were your top d pairing at +5 and +6 chances.
The bottom of the lineup played really well as well. I was hoping that I would be able to title this "Toby Petersen beats the Oilers". Early on it looked like that might be possible, but then the fourth line had their on ice privileges taken away. I think it was probably some bad luck that kept them off the ice due to all of the penalties they took. It definitely wasn't due to play. Petersen had a wonderful first period including the opening goal.
Larsen and Vincour both had encouraging games. Larsen got knocked around a few times, but that's going to happen until he adds more bulk. He was sound defensively all night, and put his offensive skills on display by generating, of all things, a breakaway in the third period. Vincour had something extra last night. I can't put my finger on what exactly it was (drive? determination? desire? will? INTANGIBLES????), but everytime he was on the ice he made things happen. He generated an offensive chance for himself early on, but just as importantly he was all over it defensively. On one sequence in particular I remember him getting caught slightly out of position in the defensive zone. He worked hard to get back in position, constantly agitated the Oiler in possession of the puck by lifting his stick numerous times, and the Oilers ultimately were unable to generate any offense. Those two plays really stuck out to me, and are a microcosm of the potential Vincour has to be an impact player for the Stars going forward.
If you didn't see it yesterday I got the Dallas Stars Scoring Chance Database updated. It doesn't have the Oilers game in it yet, but there is still a lot of goodness in there. I'd recommend downloading it and looking at it in Excel if you do want to look at it. As always, if you have any questions about any of the chances leave a comment or send me a tweet @JoshL1220 .