The Dallas Stars just keep on rocking in the free world. If there's a caveat to the whole thing, it's that the game started ugly against one of the worst teams in the NHL. But more on that later.
The two points are all that matters if we're not interesting in predicting things like patterns, and trends. But if we simply want to celebrate, then Dallas did what needed to be done with the kind of aplomb only this team can manage. I hope I'm not sounding negative. At 48 points, only the Washington Capitals are two wins within neck distance of Dallas. But I didn't get to talk the Blues games with the homies of DBD, and there's still plenty of work to be done after watching some of the leftover gaffes.
1. Columbus Straight Jackets
Columbus now has the last 14 shots on goal. Shots are 15-5 Blue Jackets with just over six minutes left in first.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 16, 2015
Halfway through the first period, the Dallas Stars had managed 8 giveaways. The team was inventing ways to turn over the puck. There wasn't a whole lot to like since Columbus is last in the NHL, and 2-5-3 in the their last ten. The team still doesn't clear the zone effectively when dealing with an aggressive forecheck. It was bad enough for Ruff to set the line blender on frappe. Johnny Oduya would make casual Stars fans forget how badly Dallas was outplayed in the first when he beat Curtis McElhinney from the point.
2. "Are we there yet?" Asks Corsi McFenwick
Stars get their first shot on goal in about 11 minutes.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 16, 2015
Dallas was still getting punished once the second got underway. Alexander Wennberg's line in particular was all over Dallas. Even Gregory Campbell had opportunities to be mistaken for Evgeni Malkin. There's never any one thing that causes a system to falter, but certain things stick out, and for whatever reason, Dallas allows the cross ice pass down low way too easily. It was interesting to see Patrik Nemeth get the start over Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka. He played fairly well after some iffy positioning on some early plays.
3. Attack of the Killer Nichezzarps!
The Blue Jackets were doing an admirable job of hanging with the Stars.. and then all of a sudden they weren't anymore.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) December 16, 2015
The game turned around once the second line started to dominate. Since Ruff's lines could pass for House Stark, you could never guess who with any consistency but Patrick Sharp-Jason Spezza-Valeri Nichushkin played the part of dynamic trio tonight (they all deserved assists on Goose's goal). Yes, they also had the best 'possession' numbers in case you're wondering.
4. Gone in 32 Seconds
At some point Dallas woke up, and the sheer talent of the team took over. Seguin scored his 16th and 17th of the season (finally picking up his play in the 'scoring at home' department if we're being nitpicky).
5. Jan Marks What Stockholm Hath Wrought
Mattias Janmark has 4 goals in the last 7 games. No one on the @DallasStars has more during that span. He's tied with Seguin for the lead.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) December 16, 2015
Along with the newly minted second line, Mattias Janmark got back on the third line at center with his old pal, Ales Hemsky (who had some incredible moments). It was nice to see Janmark back at center, but it was even better to see his solo effort; he scored the kind of goal you don't expect out of a player so diminutive on the weight scale, which is what makes his consistent play that much more impressive. For Erik Cole!!
Was curious if drop in goals has yielded closer games. Here's a chart of the average absolute score differential pic.twitter.com/72Wl39Cwg7— Michael Lopez (@StatsbyLopez) December 16, 2015
As Lopez notes, this season has seen a difference of 4+ goals in 1 in 60 games (less blowouts). Despite Dallas being 8-0 in games following a loss where they've outscored their opponents 37-21, they've only been involved in a 4 + goal blowout twice; one last night, and one in their 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
It's hard to say whether or not this favors Dallas. On the surface, a truly high scoring team might thrive in this situation. But that obviously depends on how often variance affects certain situations. The Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers are top 10 teams in Goals For yet are in great positions to make the playoffs. Conversely, the Penguins and Ducks are top 10 in stopping goals, but already have Excel documents for their firesales.
Anyway, on to some stray observations...
- I think John Tortorella is a decent hockey coach. As in, he has a mind for the game in my amateur opinion. He also has a way better autotune voice than Taylor Swift. But good lord what a drama queen. His brain has the Sergeant Gunny switch locked on at all times. Not giving Ryan Johanson any time on the entire Power Play in the third period was so Torts.
- I guess I should be thankful that Ruff's lucky rabbit's grit foot is Cody Eakin. Contrast that to Alain Vigneault and Tanner Glass. Roy and Cody McLeod. Detroit and Luke Glendening. Claude Julien and Shawn Thornton. Et cetera. Because Eakin is not a bad player, but he's just out of place. I'm hoping that Brett Ritchie gets to prove himself again at some point on Seguin's right wing. After his hat trick in Cedar Park the other night, it'll be a matter of when he gets back into the lineup, not if.
- The Central finally took a beating. As in, three teams won, and three teams lost. I know I know. But only one loss ended with a loser point. Small victories and all...
- Thanks, Colorado.