Last night saw the Dallas Stars walk out of Carolina with a victory to retain the top spot in the West. Like Toronto, and Colorado, this game had all the makings of a trap. But Carolina is deceptively good, despite being really light on offense.
The story of the game was the strong play of the sandbox crowd. Fueled by gerber and carbon fiber, the kids continued their string of two way play. With an assist (or two) by Colton Sceviour, who somehow still escapes the appreciation of Stars fans despite some strong underlying numbers. Thankfully Kari Lehtonen was as much a part of this picture as the rest of the skaters.
1. Trap Graph for the Trap Game
Carolina goal-scoring so far this year. pic.twitter.com/LOwE00LT5b— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 7, 2015
As you can see, Carolina's offense, led by Justin Faulk, Victor Rask, and Eric Staal with 4 isn't exactly knee buckling. The lack of intersecting lines means their depth scoring is on the back of milk carton. Want to see what a good chart looks like?
2. What 1st in the Central Looks Like
Dallas goalscoring so far this year. pic.twitter.com/CXHp2GTLMU— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 7, 2015
As you can see, the wheel in this victory green sky keeps on turning. Thankfully we can actually make a pretty good prediction of where these players will be tomorrow. Jamie Benn in particular had an incredibly strong game and one reflecting his place on the goal scoring wheel. He didn't show up on the scoresheet, but he'll probably show up in a few of the Canes' player's nightmares.
3. Beware of the Deadfall
Jordan Staal puts Carolina up 1-0 pic.twitter.com/wPo3D9FApL— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 7, 2015
Despite some grade A chances from Benn, Carolina would end up on the scoreboard first with this tic tac toe sibling chemistry. Carolina could be a solid team if they had anything resembling a threat on their wings (not counting Lindholm, who really should be back at center in my armchair opinion).
4. Sceviour as Savior
good dog. i mean...human. pic.twitter.com/dV0SmKfEBJ— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 7, 2015
Patrick Sharp broke the tie with a brilliant assist from Tyler Seguin off a scary looking collision with Eddie Lack. Then Hemsky, who hadn't scored a goal since opening night, potted one. He was due for one, but not before Colton Sceviour did a great but over the top (literally) screen of the goalie. Hemsky's goal was challenged, but it stood because Colton did a really good job of avoiding a complete collision.
5. I (shamelessly) told you that boy was good!
Another good play by Colton, created by a really good possession sequence from Valeri Nichushkin ends up leading to Radek Faksa scoring his first. It took some bad breaks, and a little too much iron, but the hockey gods finally granted his wish on this puck prom night. Just as special as the goal itself was the reaction from his teammates:
6. Rad Radek Rejoices
Just awesome. Now let's talk some cliffs notes:
- John Klingberg made a fantastic play to break up a two-on-one, showing defensemen all around the world that you don't have to smooch ice just to do it. Granted, Lindholm played it too conservatively, but Klingberg kind of forced him to do so.
- Kari looked great. That's all that needs to be said. I honestly wasn't expecting Kari to start given Antti Niemi's string of solid play. Kari needs to build confidence, and keeping him warm and game shape is a good way to do it.
- Still trying to figure out these lines, but I get some of Ruff's logic. Faksa has really won Lindy's favor; he knows who Radek is and what he can do, so his presence at center is more or less obligatory. Loading up on the first line isn't the gamble it was last season because you have real depth and finishing ability on every single line below BennGuin as well as two way play.
- Winning is fun.