The Stars are playing lousy hockey at the moment. Scuffling, losing, bumbling hockey. The big guns are quiet, the goals are slipping through, and generally speaking, the happy buzz fans had heading into 2016 has faded. Typically, this is where I'd say something pithy about lessons learned and brighter days ahead.
Not this week, though. The problem with this past week is that it plays directly into the "Offense can't win in the playoffs" narrative facing the Stars. Yes, they won a gut-check game against a tough Winnipeg squad, but a late flurry masks a number of issues exposed by the Wild.
That's reflected in this week's parade of Ups and Downs. Stars aren't starring, surprise contributors aren't contributing, and the goaltending has been highly variable. This is not a good team right now.
Patrick Sharp (3 A / 20:36 ATOI / 61.9 CF%) - One of the few Stars enjoying sustained success these days. Sharp is bouncing between lines providing an offensive spark.
Jason Spezza (3 A / 0 PP Pts / 55.6% FOW) - Jason Spezza is expected to provide offense, specifically offense on the power play, and win key faceoffs for his team. Two out of three is enough to keep him up for the skidding Stars.
Alex Goligoski (50 CF% / 55.8 ZSO% / 8 Blks) - Still steady, only on the ice for three of the nine total goals Dallas conceded last week. He's doing his job, for the most part.
Kari Lehtonen (1 W / .970 SV% / 1 GAA) - Claimed Dallas' only victory last week in a shootout against the Jets. The less we say about the two starts prior, the better.
Mattias Janmark (1 A / 18 ATOI / 55.1 CF%) - One thing that didn't happen to Janmark this week was a goal against. For a 22-year old rookie playing an important role on a suddenly sliding team, that's impressive.
Johnny Oduya (1 GA / 7 Blk / 4 Hit) - Another defender who avoided the real nastiness last week. No real sizzle, here, but he's not a part of the current problems.
Jason Demers (1 GA / +7 Scoring Chance Differential / 22:42 ATOI) - Like his most-times partner, Demers has largely pushed play in a positive direction for the Stars, and generally managed to keep the puck out of his own net.
Radek Faksa (2 GP / 11:24 ATOI / 52.3 CF%) - A nice little cameo for Faksa. Brought some energy, laid the lumber, reminded Stars of a bright future.
Jamie Benn (1 G, 11 SOG / 2 PPSOG) - How different would last week have looked without Dubynk's impressive save to keep the Wild on top? There's no escaping it, the Captain is scuffling right now.
Tyler Seguin (1 PPSOG / 1 G / 6 SOG) - Another All-Star Star down in the slumps. An uncharacteristically low shot total last week is cause for concern. You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take, or something.
John Klingberg (13 Hits Taken / 1 PPSOG / 0 PP Pts) - Prior to this season (44 games) Klingberg has played more than 40 professional games exactly twice (50 games in 2013-2014 and 65 last season). Is wear and tear becoming an issue?
Cody Eakin (-3 Goal Differential / 44.7% FOW / 15 ATOI) - Played below his season average time on ice last week, and probably deserved it a little bit. Cody couldn't make an impact last week.
Vernon Fiddler (42.9% FOW / 36% SHFOW / 12 ATOI) - When you're a role player, the line between up and down can get thin. Fiddler didn't play a ton, and struggled in some historic areas of strength.
Jordie Benn (1 GP / 42.9 CF% / 22.2 ZSO%) - Sat and watched both Nemeth and Oleksiak get turns along the blueline. Is this a sign of flagging confidence in elder Benn? An opportunity to shop the once-promising youngsters, or a nagging injury?
Jyrki Jokipakka (4 GA / 13:48 ATOI / 46.2 ZSO%) - Not a good week for Jokipakka. The young defender also finished as a minus in terms of scoring chances (-12) and high-danger scoring chances (-7).
Patrick Eaves (8:36 ATOI / 2 GA / 4 H) - It's hard to make an impact when you're not on the ice.
Jamie Oleksiak (1 GP / 12:18 ATOI / 2 GA) - Are we excited to just see the Big Rig on the ice at this point? Not when he gets tagged for a pair of goals against in just over 12 minutes. You have to wonder how much realistic impact a young player can make with such sporadic usage.
Patrick Nemeth (1 GP / 12:37 ATOI / 42.9 ZSO%) - Looked (understandably) tentative in a rare appearance. He's spinning his wheels.
Valeri Nichushkin (15:30 ATOI / 0 Pts / 9 SOG) - It took a wonder save to bail out a bit of laziness against the Wild, but when presented with the same back-door opportunity later in the game, Nuke snuffed out a serious scoring chance. You like to see your young players learning. For my money, he also made an intelligent pass on Klingberg's "Goal."
Antti Niemi (2 L / 4 GAA / .852 SV%) - Minnesota could have turned into a rout without a strong start from Niemi. Unfortunately, New York was a catastrophe. One good, one bad feels like middle-of-the-road to me.
Antoine Roussel (1 G / 0 Penalties Drawn / 12:48 ATOI) - Limited usage. I really want to ding the guy for getting a goal waved of, but I'd have to understand the rule clearly to know if it was actually his fault (hint: I say good hockey play). This just felt like a meh week to me, despite the goal.
Colton Sceviour (-3 Goal Differential / 37.5 ZSO% / 2 Penalties Drawn) - The goal scoring dried up, but Sceviour has done okay in a defensive, limited role. The two penalties drawn number is more fun when you realize he didn't commit any himself.
Travis Moen (1 GP / 7:36 ATOI / 1 Penalty Drawn) - What I said about Eaves, repeated.
On the Shelf