It was another game that wasn't all that pretty, but the Dallas Stars put another shrimp on the puck barbie to improve to first in the entire NHL. Washington is fifth in the NHL, by the way; with the third-best team Corsi For of 54%. This was never gonna be easy. Especially with Alex Ovechkin icing the extra incentive of beating Sergei Fedorov in goals by a Russian-born player.
1. Executive Sorcery
Sometimes our sports resemble the uncommon sense of parallel universes, and mathematical doppelgangers; hockey as envisioned by Michio Kaku.
Somehow Dallas has owned Washington despite the Capitals being a better franchise in recent memory with far better lineups since 2008. Dallas knows the feeling of witch doctory, and ouji obloquy (don't look at me like that; Brad got to use 'intransigence') all too well, given their Toronto games. Needless to say, the Stars had this one in the bag. Or so the voodoo scripture goes...
2. Executive Mathematics
Dallas at Washington shot heatmaps. Oscar reckons 58% for Capitals. Easily top card of the night. pic.twitter.com/Ufd6tQPyM8— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 19, 2015
If you're wondering who the heck Oscar is, besides some vague recollection of Stallone doing 90's comedy, then it's because you haven't spent your people-injuring-themselves-in-infomercials YouTube time at Micah Blake McCurdy's website.
It's a single game prediction model that relies on shot generation, shot suppression, shooting percentages, and save percentages. If you want to see what a sadness puck on failure ice looks like, check out Colorado's Oscar blob*. Or what I like to call the Patrick Roy Pollock.
3. Donuts versus Ahlgrens Bilar
First period ends. Goals from Tyler Seguin and Nicklas Backstrom leave us tied, 1-1, after 20. SOG DAL:11 WSH:12 https://t.co/Ca8NDXJu1u— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) November 20, 2015
Both teams ended up trading a ton of high danger scoring chances for. The final total was 13 to 12 in favor of Washington. Tyler Seguin hasn't exactly been quiet, but there are a few too many cruller's on his donut counter, which is the same as saying he's been somewhat low key.
Patrick Sharp has been excellent on the first line, but it's reassuring to know, given Ruff's recent comments, that Valeri Nichushkin will be getting his looks again on the first line in the near future. Nuke is not better than Sharp at this stage of his career, but he adds a different element to the star-studded bromance, and one we know has chemistry.
4. Going Fugitive with the Torch
I still love Pavel Bure the most, but that is an awesome list of snipers. pic.twitter.com/SKoS9VRN6W— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) November 20, 2015
Alex Ovechkin tied the game in third period after Cody Eakin redirected a John Klingberg (who else) shot from the point. Putting my fan hat on, I was glad to see Ovie get the goal, and make history. He's an absolute tank on skates when he gets going, and wonderful reverse beacon for bad hockey journalism.
5. The Beast Back Against the East
Spezza goal, Stars lead 3-2 pic.twitter.com/7ZhGLdjjTC— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 20, 2015
When you look at Dallas' top possession players (granted, possession and 'Corsi' are not one in the same, but for the purpose of conversation let's move on) Mattias Janmark and Jason Spezza sit at the top of the list (1 and 2, respectively). Janmark's intelligent pursuit and Spezza's gamebreaker ability combine for a hefty punch. Spezza doesn't get talked about a whole lot because the season has been about Seguin, Benn, Sharp, and Klingberg, but he's quietly playing the game we paid him for last year (and then some).
6. Back to your Regularly Scheduled Beasting
Truth be told, I don't hate this effort on the back-end of a b2b with the back-up in net against a rested, arguably best team in hockey.— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) November 20, 2015
It's interesting to look at how other teams, and observers, see Dallas. Are the Stars really that good?
If you look at, say, which teams get the most dangerous scoring area shots/goals per game at even strength, Dallas is far and away the best team in the league at it, as Travis Yost found:
Needless to say, there are a lot of things working for Dallas. On to the stray observations
- Kari Lehtonen can go back to avoiding bad "letting them in" puns. He's been solid all year, and played one of his best games against a very dangerous team. He's 9-1 now and played extremely well in all but about 20 minutes of hockey.
- I enjoy it when Alex Goligoski goes all Larry Allen on fools with some mixed martial assault. He's not a big guy, or even a physical player, but when he commits to a vendetta kind of mood, he almost looks sensibly violent.
- Dallas will now embark on a three game homestand that will end in the first game of a back-to-back - Buffalo on Saturday, Ottawa next Tuesday, and Vancouver next Friday. There's no reason why they can't win another three. Still, these are the narratives us couch watchers should be concerned about; Dallas isn't perfect, best record or not. If they continue to tighten the good habits, and limit the bad habits, November may resemble October a lot more than we'd have imagined.
*Apologies Avs fans but when your team tweets something dead dreadful like this, even two seasons ago, and you aren't willing to hold them accountable, then maybe it's time to stop pointing the finger at Ryan Lambert.