The Dallas Stars have been rocking and rolling. They're still first in the Conference and now have more regulation plus overtime wins than any other team in the league. But today it was more rocking than rolling.
Despite appearances, Dallas is very much a team in flux. They've had a schedule that hasn't been able to punish them for their mistakes. That doesn't mean they're some sort of puck paper tiger, however.
On the contrary; there are things they can improve on that would make them even more formidable. They like to say that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Well broken things aren't always the only things that require fixing. Goku wasn't broken, but he could sure use that blonde haired improvement to defeat Frieza.
1. Power Strays
Special Teams Matrix pic.twitter.com/LbTVz8wZaV— DTM About Heart (@DTMAboutHeart) November 16, 2015
Fun and Bad. Those probably aren't words you want tagged to your team when the playoffs (should it become a reality) roll around. Yes, Dallas' PK problems are well documented. They would be well documented in this game as well when Buffalo technically potted 2 within minutes of one another.
But another real problem for Dallas is the production they're leaving off the table on the Power Play. Dallas sits at 21st in the league for Time on Ice on the PP at just over 83 minutes. If Dallas can score at five on five, fantastic. If they can capitalize on the chances they do get, great. But this team will need every edge they can get when it's a seven game series against not Buffalo.
There's no real recipe for how to draw penalties unless you're Nazem Kadri. But just because you don't have a recipe doesn't mean you can't cook, and Dallas needs to start cooking when it comes to drawing penalties.
2. Nuke Prompt'Em
Val Nichushkin now has goals in back-to-back road games.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) November 18, 2015
Nichushkin would net his second of the year in the first period with assists from Antoine Roussel and Cody Eakin. No longer the pitbulls, they've evolved into something a bit more intelligent. It'll be interesting to see whether Nuke can get something going offensively.
3. Bandwagoners Welcome
This Dallas team is just so lethal in the offensive zone. Sequential passing off the charts.— Travis Yost (@travisyost) November 18, 2015
Dallas played a pretty solid second period. Buffalo would end up being limited to only two (!) High Danger Scoring Area chances for all game, and the tight defensive play of the Stars in the second was a big part of that. The Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Patrick Eaves line ended up being the best possession line all night despite getting a lot of matchups against Jack Eichel's line.
This drew the praise of a few media members, like Travis Yost (who I am not calling a bandwagoner because he's been singing Dallas' praises for awhile, and has written some very intelligent stuff about the team). Bandwagoners get a lot of heat for reasons I think are silly; liking a team because you live in the same state is no less superficial than liking a team because you're listening to others take notice and following suit. Bandwagoners are typically signals of success, as no one suddenly likes a team because they keep losing. Be flattered, passionate Dallas fans.
4. No Janmark Puns, Please
Goligoski's goal is his first in 6 games. It was set up by Janmark, who gets his first point in 6 games. #BreathingRoom— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) November 18, 2015
Not all assists are created equally.This was actually Jason Spezza's goal, but Janmark's secondary assist here is just a fantastic example of an assist tally reflecting playmaking ability:
The ceiling on Janmark's goal scoring ability could be extremely limited. He could be a perennial 10 goal a season guy, and he would still deserve a spot in the Top 6. Fans and observers tend to correlate points with hierarchy, which is not the formula for efficiency. Janmark's on ice intelligence and vision are, and will continue to be, assets in the Top 6; especially next to Spezza.
5. O Captain, Foul Captain!
Dallas Stars are the ultimate trolls - invoking Coaches Challenge video review against the Sabres IN BUFFALO. Somewhere Brett Hull smiles.— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) November 18, 2015
Jamie Benn was not great tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if Jamie took that cross checking penalty after Josh Gorges showed him his On Ice Corsi Differential.
Which is fine. It's OK to not pillage the opponents night in, night out. The guy's human. But the penalty he took was a monumental screw up. Not only did Ryan O'Reilly score on the ensuing power play (a penalty that is exponentially worse when you consider Dallas' PK), but Alex Goligoski would make a just as questionable chip pass at the Buffalo fan scarfing his nachos for a delay of game. Which Buffalo scored on! Kind of.
Luckily Ruff challenged the goal, which ended up being offsides, leading to an endless supply of welcome 1999 references.
6. Burn, Central, Burn
Charts for each team's 5-on-5 corsi, 5-on-5 shooting percentages, special teams corsi pic.twitter.com/AdyFY69dxp— datarink (@datarink) November 16, 2015
Minnesota lost to video game Malkin. St. Louis lost to Columbus, probably because they had very little left after Winnipeg engaged them in a Anchorman fight, tridents and all. Colorado might have been able to expand in their winning streak, but Patrick Roy is still coaching them. And Nashville won because they've got all the Norris trophy winners on their blue line.
The Central didn't do too well overall, but it's incredible to think that Dallas still has to look over their shoulder despite the best start in franchise history.
They played a good defensive game. But they're gonna need to be even better when they take on Washington (who will be coming off a back to back). There's no rest for the victory green wicked.