If you watch enough hockey over any number of years you're going to come across games like the Dallas Stars loss to the Florida Panthers. The way they lost was alarming, and they will need to respond just like they did after the Colorado Avalanche knocked them off, but this happens from time to time to even the best teams.
We all saw what happened, and we all know the story. 2015 popped its ugly head back up. One play from the game stuck out as especially 2015. Our old buddy Reilly Smith ripped a goal past Antti Niemi in the third period from between the faceoff circles. So many things went wrong on this one play in a span of maybe 10 seconds.
The first thing you notice is that Patrik Nemeth drilled Dave Bolland behind the net.
Jamie Oleksiak was already covering Bolland. There was no real reason for Nemeth to head down to that position. The hit was a bit late too. It probably should have been interference, which would have negated the goal because when Jason Spezza touched the puck the play would have been dead. I feel dirty lobbying for a penalty against the Stars to negate a goal so lets just move on.
Take a second and watch only Nemeth and Oleksiak. Both changed numbers and haven't played in a month so as a quick refresher Nemeth is 15 and Oleksiak is 5. Nemeth is at the top and Oleksiak the bottom.
Nemeth went back to the front of the net after destroying Bolland then back down low to retrieve the puck. By going back down low Nemeth more or less eliminates himself as a passing option. With a little more communication Nemeth can stay home and a short, albeit slightly dangerous, pass relieves the pressure. If Nemeth takes the puck in the corner Nichushkin is waiting up the boards for what would have still been a tough exit, but in a less dangerous area. There were options, but none were really great.
Oleksiak essentially takes himself out of the play. He hooks up to support the play, but the Panthers are putting so much pressure on the Stars exits that he isn't a passing option. There is a Panther directly between himself and Spezza. If he just goes to the front of the net instead of hooking around the Panther forechecker he's more of an option.
It's hard to be critical of Spezza there. The guy makes seven mil a year specifically because he's a playmaker. He tried to make a play and it just didn't work on a night where nothing went right. He saw the open ice and tried to go to it.
And just to show how out of sorts everyone was that's Mattias Janmark starting to blow the zone instead of making himself a passing option when he is completely in open ice. Spezza appears to be looking right at him, but without Janmark looking he attempts to skate the puck out. By the time Spezza turns the puck over Janmark is almost crossing the blueline.
As bad as all of that play was Nemeth and Oleksiak were the Stars top possession guys on defense against the Panthers. The Spezza line was a net positive, and second only to Vernon Fiddler and his group among the forwards. These guys aren't even remotely why the Stars lost last night, but even they had utter blackout "what was that?" moments.
Burn the tape and let's move on. That whole game was ugly.