At 17-4, it's unavoidable. We all know the feeling. The feeling of that first date inexplicably gone right. Then the bases are covered like a Hank Aaron special, and the last step on home plate let's you know that maybe it's love, actually.
The Corsi and Fenwick of romance is easy to chart too. Because watching the Dallas Stars is sometimes intrusive. "Why is my boss looking at me like I'm not paying attention? Of course I'm not. The Stars are playing tonight." Because watching Dallas is sometimes aggrandizing. "I'm starting to like those drop passes to no one." Because watching Dallas is sometimes prioritizing. "Does my brother's wedding end in time for the Stars game?" Because watching Dallas is sometimes stupid. "Tyler Seguin wants to be paid in nuclear codes? Sure why not."
And so forth. Just how are they wooing us?
1. Power Play Hiccups
Special teams shot rates so far this year. pic.twitter.com/TUNhuq1Slz— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 21, 2015
One of the stories of the game was the Power Play suddenly looking powerless. Obviously, the PP won't always look deadly. And on some nights, the other team will just be well prepared and lucky. But from the looks of things, the PP can improve. Dallas still isn't taking enough shots. In fact, they're in the bottom ten in the league when it comes to Shots For %.
Perhaps there's an argument here for sacrificing quality over quantity. Unlike even strength play, where the 'good plan today' sequence is preferred, the PP allows for enough time for that 'perfect plan tomorrow' sequence. Still, if Dallas can enter the zone efficiently with regularity, it's hard to imagine what is sacrificed by taking just a few more shots.
2. Bouge De La, Ovechkin!
All-time #NHL goal leaders by nation: France SBordeleau 37 Roussel 37 PBordeleau 33 Bozon 16 Galarneau 7 Bellemare 7 Da Costa 7 Ouellet 2— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) November 20, 2015
If it weren't for being in the Central, it would not be too early to think about the playoffs. But they are, so we won't. Still, depth scoring is a big part of what made Dallas such a tough outing for Anaheim in the 2013-2014 playoffs. Dallas' bottom six combined for 26 points. Whatever kind of spinach fuels Roussel's performances when he's at home, and in Dallas, it helped not only celebrate his birthday, but somehow he now has something spiritually in common with Alex Ovechkin.
3. Jamie 'Canelo' Oleksiak
SO I'M OUTSIDE OF DA CLUB AND YOU THINK I'M A PUUUUUUUUNK pic.twitter.com/0NoqoDwJcg— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) November 22, 2015
So Jamie Oleksiak got into a fight, which is another way of saying he filmed a snuff film on Deslauriers' head with his fists.
Deslauriers actually did better in his pugilism party against Luke Gazdic, so it's a solid win in the fantasy rankings of face punchers. More than that, Oleksiak was jacked up after that fight. He threw his arms up in the air enthusiastically like he won a world title, and the bench celebrated with him.
The idea that fights sway the collective momentum of a hockey game is too mercurial to take seriously, but there's nothing mercurial about feeling empowered by dominating another man in mortal combat. Jamie didn't play a perfect game (still subpar possession numbers, though a small percentage of that was played against the Jack Eichel line), but he played a visibly good one in spots. That's a big deal moving forward with support, excitement, and momentum behind him.
4. Jim Nill, Prophet at Law
According to stats, Demers last shift ended at 5:54 mark of second period. He played 2:55 total in 2nd. We'll see if he returns in 3rd.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) November 22, 2015
Looks like keeping eight defensemen is working out just fine. With Jason Demers expected to miss a bit of time, the kids will finally get their looks.
5. Move over Rudd, and Segal
Jamie Benn would dominate the third period after taking another needless third period penalty. As has been habit this season, Dallas is making sure not to repeat previous failures. The second goal was, in my opinion, prettier than the third of the night.
Benn's supernatural awareness to pull the puck back in tight to sweep it around Johnson's pads was just a thing of beauty.
6. Are we there yet?
Dallas is really postioned to win now. NHL roster is great, and their AHL team is loaded with talent too. Texas Stars most goals in the AHL.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) November 22, 2015
Well, the baby Stars may not be poised to win now if they're gonna get a .781 save percentage between the pipes, but Dallas is feeling pretty groovy right about now. Especially given the strength of Buffalo's underlying numbers. Dallas ended up with more scoring chances all around, high danger and otherwise (key here):
There's still work to be done. Luckily for Dallas, the Central once again struggled. St. Louis lost in OT. Minnesota shut out Nashville. Winnipeg beat Arizona. Vancouver and the Sedins took out Chicago. And Colorado got blitzed by the Caps in a 7-3 loss, causing James Mirtle to surgically troll some of the writers at Mile High Hockey. And yes, 'breaking even' is basically the same as "struggling" in the otherworldy Central.
Now for some stray observations.
- I see so much criticism thrown Ruff's way when it comes to player development. Why hasn't Oleksiak played more? Why isn't Jokipakka paired with a veteran? Why didn't Ruff protest when Nill sent Radek Faksa down? And so forth. Where's the credit to Ruff for how much better John Klingberg looks in the NHL then in Liiga, or in Cedar Park? Or how Jyrki Jokipakka has continued to look steady despite his inexperience? Ruff is not beyond reproach, no matter how good the team is doing. And I love the discussions had among our very passionate, and thoughtful readers (lurkers welcome!). But Ruff has helped set the stage for someone like Esa Lindell to want to be in Dallas. Because he knows this isn't Edmonton, where they ask you fight Chief Teasle in a small Washington town on your own.
- Jack Eichel is already really good, but he's gonna be even better, which is a scary thought. Buffalo is doing a really good job of mixing up their prospect pool with veterans and young talent. I loved the Evander Kane signing. And despite the money, Ryan O'Reilly is an elite two-way player. In a couple of years, Buffalo won't be just another Eastern lamb for the Central slaughter.
- It may not fit into the "most exciting team to watch" narrative, but it's nice to see Dallas limit the scoring chances and win games that aren't decided by odd man rushes.
- Speaking of odd man rushes, Dallas defensemen old and new, please watch how Klingberg plays a two-on-one situation.
- Ottawa on Tuesday should be fun because hopefully the HotlineKling can outplay Erik Karlsson for a battle of passing the torch hot takes.