Ask Mike Yeo about the impact of goaltending on an NHL team’s fortunes. His team did just make a trade FOR Devan Dubnyk, after all (and before you ask, yeah, that’s a weird, weird sentence to type). Nowhere have the ups and downs of this strange season been reflected more clearly than in the Dallas Stars’ goaltending situation.
When it’s good, they’re good. Stellar performances have scared the Blackhawks, stifled the Kings, and throttled the Blues. Less stellar performances have tanked winnable efforts against bottom feeders like Carolina, Philadelphia, and very nearly Edmonton. This is a top 5 offense, averaging more than three goals per game. It’s also not a playoff team, not yet.
No, goaltending is not the Stars’ only problem, but it’s certainly been one of the largest. Excellence would be welcome, but acceptable would likely be fine. For any other team, that might constitute a low bar, but for this one, this season, it’s a challenge that might very well determine whether or not the Stars make the playoffs.
(To show how much I know, I wrote the introduction just before Dubnyk marked his debut with a shutout, and Dallas’ offense sputtered against the Jets)
Ales Hemsky (3 GP / 2 G / 1 A) - Led the team with a +3 goal differential. Hemsky also tied with Klingberg at eight hits taken. Weird guy, that Hemsky, but at least he seems to have (finally) settled in.
Trevor Daley (3 GP / 2 G / +9 Scoring Chance Differential) - Three goals in the month of January, including the only tally past Ondrej freaking Pavelec. It was a good week for Mr. Daley.
Anders Lindback (2 GP / 1 W / .964 SV%) - The Stars finally get a solid start out of their backup goaltender, only to watch the guy on the other end of the ice turn away 45 shots. Life, as they say, is a beach.
Jason Demers (3 GP / 37.2% OZS / 6 H) - In addition to the physical play we've come to expect, Demers managed to get 6 shots on goal versus just three missed or blocked. Shots on goal generate offense (See: Spezza, Jason).
Cody Eakin (3 GP / 7 S / 66.7% FOW) - Eakin saw his starts in the offensive zone take a quantum leap all the way up to... 44.7%. Winnipeg skews that in a big way, but credit where credit is due. Cody seems to have shaken off an early season injury and become Mr. Fix-It for the Stars' forward lines.
Shawn Horcoff (3 GP / 54.5% FOW / 57.1% OZS) - The jump in offensive zone starts can be attributed to higher power play usage as the Stars try to get that unit moving. Horcoff averaged 3:26 in power play time. He was also riding a 3-game assist streak before Pavelec ruined Christmas.
Brett Ritchie (3 GP / 1 G / +8 SCDiff) - Concerns about Ritchie sticking with the big club centered around ice time. Would get enough meaningful minutes to develop as a top line player? How does 19:13 a night, including 5:28 on the power play strike you?
Jamie Oleksiak (1 GP / 13:00 TOI / 1:18 SHTOI) – Finally got back into the lineup against Winnipeg and looked strong. His work on the penalty kill, in particular, was superb. Hopefully this is the start of a good run of games for the young defender.
Tyler Seguin (3 GP / 0 G / 57.5% FOW) – Every single number screams a correction is coming. Seguin had 10 shots across the past three games, and his lines generated 26 more scoring chances than they surrendered. He also sports a 67.9% Corsi-For and suffers from a team-worst PDO of 88.8 (anything under 100 is considered unlucky). Yes, it's frustrating, but only a bunch of Lucic-loving idiots would turn on a player this talented.
Jamie Benn (3 GP / 1 A / 11 S) -- Second only to Seguin in bad luck (89.2 PDO), Jamie Benn's nightmare season just keeps rolling along. He's mired in another lengthy goalscoring drought (5 games and climbing, 1 goal in January), and whispers of nagging injury are growing louder. Just one against Winnipeg and maybe the narrative changes. Close, but not quite.
Kari Lehtonen (2 GP / 6 GA / .826 SV%) - Kari is currently riding a 3-game personal losing streak. It may well have fallen to four had he not been yanked 10:30 into an ineffective start against the Ottawa Senators.
Jason Spezza (3 GP / 8 S / 11 Shot Attempts Blocked) - Over the past week, no Dallas Star saw more of his shots on net get blocked. That's a huge problem when you realize shots have to get to the net to generate rebounds or, you know, go in.
Erik Cole (3 GP / 1 G / 3 S) - Came thisclose to being the goat against Ottawa. You'll notice no hit totals in Cole's profiled statistics. That's not a mistake. After a two-week rampage, Cole managed just a pair of hits. He's better as a wrecking ball, I think.
Antoine Roussel (3 GP / 14 Scoring Chances / 0 P) - The Frenchman looks desperate right now, and frustrated. Go figure. At least he's taking some of that frustration out on the other team (5 hits).
Alex Goligoski (3 GP / 9 Blks / -3 Goal Differential) - Goose (along with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn) had the week's worst goal differential. A pair of assists offsets the damage somewhat, as does the shaky goaltending behind him, but optics matter. More than anything, I worry about his ice time creeping over 25 minutes twice (Ottawa & Winnipeg).
John Klingberg (3 GP / 8 Hits Taken / 2 G) – In-between?! You scream. Did I not watch the comeback against Ottawa? I did. Thing is, I also watched Klingberg watch Michael Frolik chip the puck into an empty net. This week, the Stars gave up 10 goals, Klingberg was on the ice for 4 of them. For the sake of comparison, his -2 goal differential was three worse than perennial no-defense whipping boy Trevor Daley (+1).
Jordie Benn (3 GP / 2 H / 2 B) - Jordie managed a +2 rating for the week. Also blasted a shot into a shin pad (one of 6 blocked shots this week) that led to a goal against for the Senators. Solid 90% of the time, catastrophic the other 10%. That's Jordie Benn this season.
Ryan Garbutt (3 GP / 6 H / 2 PIMs) - Took his first penalty since December 23rd against Winnipeg. Garbutt also dipped below his typical time on the ice (12:17 ATOI) and failed to hit the scoresheet offensively. Some good, some bad.
Travis Moen (3 GP / 2 A / 8:20 ATOI) - Moen's season seems to consist of weird dips and spikes. 10:19 against Ottawa, 5:55 against Winnipeg. Such is the life of a plug-and-player.
Colton Sceviour (3 GP / 1 G / 9:27 ATOI) – Points in nine of his last 13 games is the good news. Under six minutes overall, and just seven seconds of power play time against Winnipeg is the bad news. A two point week keeps him from being down, but it's as tenuous as his role on the team seems to be right now.
David Schlemko (2 GP / 4 Blks / 27.8% OZS) - We'll see what Schlemko brings to the backend. Two games is too few to tell.
On the Shelf