If you haven't been reading Josh Bogorad's "On the Radar" weekly column this year, you've been missing out. I say that not because Stars content is always nice, but primarily due to the fact that Bogorad's columns are always packed full of delicious nuggets that you might not otherwise have heard.
For instance, you know that the Stars are a high-flying team when they have the puck, don't you? Of course you do. In fact, Dallas has been one of the highest event teams this season. By "event," I mean shots at their net or at the opponent's net. You know--the things that make people in the stands inhale really quickly or cut off their conversations about the Prince of Wales Trophy. Pucks going at a net. Here is a picture:
25-game averages of recent shot rates, traced out over past fourteen days, ending in team name. pic.twitter.com/eBOx7nMmrC— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) April 6, 2015
If you haven't seen this graph before, the lines show each team's most recent 25 games (although the Stars' position has been pretty consistently high-event all year), with the team's name marking the most recent set of data. Farther to the right is good (more shots by your team), farther up is bad (more shots taken against your team). As you can see, the Stars are the rightmost team, which has been the case for pretty much the entire season. Pucks go flying at the net during Dallas Stars games, which is the idea. They create precursors to scoring! Hooray for the Stars!
"But what does this mean in terms of goals?" That may be a question asked by the intrepid inquisitor--which is you, surprise--and this is where Josh Bogorad comes in again:
All told, the Stars have played 19 games this season where the winning team has scored at least five goals, and the final score ended as a one or two-goal margin. That's an incredible number. It amounts to almost one-quarter of the games they've played this season.
The Stars could make the 'Best Of' list almost every week. All season long.
If you were just a hockey fan and not a Stars fan, you would have watched this season and been absolutely riveted. Nonstop entertainment. Huge swings. Endless drama. Never knowing what you'll see next. If you remove your personal skin in the game, there has not been a more fun team to watch this season than the Stars. Hands down.
But there's the problem. If you're reading this, odds are you're not just a hockey fan. You are a Stars fan. And you do have skin in the game. So, as entertaining as the two-and-a-half hours leading up to the final buzzer might have been, it's never fun to finish on the short end of the scoreboard. And, unfortunately, the Stars have been there more than they haven't this year.
That we are here, with a week to go in the season, and can recount exhilarating games one after another, serves as little consolation to the fact that the NHL playoffs will begin next week without the Stars.
So, what's the answer for the team moving forward? Must they abandon their high-level of entertainment to find a high-level of success?
Not necessarily. They just need to be more selective with when they uncork it.
It's no secret that the Stars are a team built on offense. They are going to rush, control the puck, get scoring chances, and in the process give some up. Yet, how they play the first 20 minutes, can't always be how they play the last 20. And how they approach their game when they are tied or trailing, can't always be their approach when they are leading.
This season the Stars have surrendered two-goal leads in 17 different games this season. That is another incredible number. That's enough where it becomes part of your identity. Sadly for this year's Stars, it has. In fairness, it hasn't always been fatal. The Stars have managed to still win nine of those 17 games in which they saw a two-goal lead evaporate.
As usual, there are plenty more good tidbits in there for you, so I urge you to give the column a look. It is on the syllabus.
So the question for Lindy Ruff becomes something like this: can a leopard change its spots after the leopard has eaten twelve wildebeests in the first sixteen hours of the day? Because this year, the wildebeests have really been fighting back once the sun goes down, and maybe the leopard could stand to find some high ground and take a nap after a busy day instead of overextending itself on the warpath. This is a bad metaphor.
The question for the rest of us might be something simpler, though: do we really want the Stars to consciously become less exciting? If they end up winning more, then the answer seems obvious. But with a young core of offensively elite players that have been urged to go, go, go for most of the last two season, it might be a bit tougher to change the Stars' behavior than just applying some shoe polish to a sleeping leopard, which is plenty tough already.
In short: the Stars need to have more third periods next year like they did last night. Is playing the Sharks going to be the new playing the Wild? Let us hope so.
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Did you know that the Jets have actually been pretty less-than-mediocre since the All-Star break? It's amazing how helpful it is to bank points early in the season. Also late in the season.
Here is your Travis Moen Birthday Extravaganza recap, no it's not. [Stars]
Jason Demers isn't telling where his nickname came from, but San Jose fans sure seem to miss him anyway. [DMN]
Bob McKenzie considers John Klingberg a Calder candidate, which is pretty neato. [TSN]
Do you remember Warren Peters? Well, he got suspended for six games after a very violent check to the head of an opponent during game 1 of his team's playoff round in the Danish Hockey League. TSN has a story in English, but I'd recommend watching the video at the following link for the interesting conversation (in English) between the referee and Peters's coach. They mic the refs in this league, apparently. (hat tip to 100 Degree Hockey) [SportEn.TV]
Where else can Stars fans turn for hockey now that the season is coming to an end? [THW]
The Minnesota Wild might be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs. This sentence would not have made sense at the All-Star Break except in a very alternate-universe sort of context. [Puck Daddy]
The Jets have become a defensive force this season, and it might be why they're looking at playoff hockey at long last (they hope). [Jets Nation]
Todd McClellan can reportedly opt out of his contract if Doug Wilson is fired. That is an odd clause, but it does make sense if you think about it. [CSN Bay Area]
The Kings tried to keep pace with the Jets last night, but their game against Vancouver went to a shootout, and we all know what happens to the Kings in shootouts. They lose, is what happens. LA has 15 loser points and is outside the top eight again. [NHL]
Jaromir Jagr should be your favorite. Is he your favorite yet? [Puck Drunk Love]
Anders Lindback made 49 saves in Buffalo's win last night. What do you say about Anders Lindback? Well, here are six paragraphs of mine analyzing the complexity of his play in Tampa, then Dallas, and now in Buffalo. Hockey sure is funny, because-- [NHL]
If the Penguins somehow missed the playoffs (they won't), they could potentially win the draft lottery, only to see Edmonton take Connor McDavid with the pick they already traded them. This is the darkest timeline. [Edmonton Journal]
The NHL is really really sure that Marc Methot's shot did not go in the net against Toronto the other night. [NESN]
Finally, if you are like me and love Dumb and Dumber, this picture will make you smile and want to quote the movie to the person sitting next to you: