In an 82 game season, teams experience all kinds of swings. As much as I hate "luck" as an all purpose explanatory tool of swiss army knife proportions that gets bandied about too readily from my peers in the analytics community, it's not like they're incorrect.
However, it's not just bad luck for Dallas lately. They could have used a brilliant goaltending performance here and there, and Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn could have avoided going cold for a brief stretch to steal some games but all of this would have buried the narrative that this team is struggling to find the middle of the ice. In the last five games, Dallas has managed only 33 high danger scoring area chances at even strength per War on Ice (managing just 2...total, yesterday). Anaheim managed a full third of that total in just one game.
It's not just the offense struggling to find goals. They're struggling to find opportunities. And that's a lot more worrying than simply whether or not Benn or Seguin's shooting percentage is down.
One day I'll really study the numbers on this one, but for now I'm confident in assuming that Kari Lehtonen is one of the worst at being beat consecutively. Of course, that's a broad strokes kind of analysis. Last night was very specifically not on him as Dallas assumed they had an empty net on multiple occasions. The first goal looked stoppable by five million dollar standards, but it was an awful miscommunication between Jamie Benn and Johnny Oduya. I'm guessing that Benn thought Oduya was gonna rim the puck up the boards forward towards Seguin. And Oduya thought that Benn would cover the half wall behind him. Whatever they the case, at least one of them was speaking Huttese, because the Ducks quickly capitalized on Dallas' busted dixie cups.
2. The Pond That Came Alive and Took Them
Modest proposal for recap image... pic.twitter.com/2rO3AVO98H— Brad Gardner (@bradgardnerDBD) January 16, 2016
Not since Mac's failed attempt to catch an extraterrestrial predator has a hunter so brains spillingly become the hunted. The second goal was a turnover that led to a breakout that turned into blown coverage all around in the defensive zone. The amusing part about this goal is not that Sami Vatanen successfully joined the rush. That's status quo stuff. It's that even with Dallas having numbers over Anaheim, Vatanen didn't have to be the goal scorer because Nate Thompson was wide open right to Kari's left, just close enough to smell the Quarter Pounder.
3. Jeepers Creepers
WoOo landed my first acting role! pic.twitter.com/YnYtOSSXZM— Eric Holden (@MMAJobber) January 16, 2016
Replace the word "dates" with "Dallas Stars" on that movie tagline and you get the same idea. Unfortunately this game was far less entertaining than that 1986 cult classic about body snatching alien slugs at a fraternity.
4. Lone Plight Spots
Mattias Janmark becomes 5th double digit goal scorer on the @DallasStars, joining Benn, Seguin, Sharp, & Spezza. Nice company for the rookie— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) January 16, 2016
Corey Perry would eventually help Dallas out just a little bit by turning the puck over in dramatic fashion on the Power Play, resulting in a short handed goal by Mattias Janmark. To the extent that there was anything worth salvaging about this game, it was Janmark. He didn't have a great night possession wise, or even decision wise, but he's never been invisible. Even when he isn't scoring, he's moving his skates, playing fantastic if not understated two way hockey. And I'm always shocked by how much stronger on his skates he is versus how he looks.
5. Still Got Bergevin's Number, Mr. Nill?
Stars lines in the third period: Janmark-Seguin-Sharp Benn-Spezza-Eaves Roussel-Eakin-Nichushkin Moen-Fiddler-Hemsky— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) January 16, 2016
Brett Ritchie and Radek Faksa aren't in there, which is the only problem. With Montreal in the market for scraps, it's worth pointing out. In all seriousness, there's not much on Dallas' roster I consider "scraps". Yea you can point the finger at certain people, but last night was a collective effort. However, with the trade deadline looming, there are definitely pieces Nill could potentially move.
6. Pacific Stardust
Quotable Lindy Ruff: pic.twitter.com/Uy5lMVkqti— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) January 16, 2016
Dallas tried to mount a comeback, but "tried" in the nominal sense. They got very few real opportunities, and dashed whatever momentum they could have mustered with the dreaded late game penalty (to be fair to Jordie Benn, it was an awful call). Now they get to prepare for the San Jose Sharks. On to some stray observations...
- How did Seguin, Hemsky, and Janmark become the three worst players for Dallas in shot attempt differential at 5 on 5? The game became background music in spots, so maybe I missed some really bad giveaways.
- Jordie and Jokipakka struggled, to put it mildly. I wouldn't be averse to having Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak replace them completely for the Sharks game as a 'test run'. You have to learn to trust your younger players using the same principles as your vets; knowing that mistakes shouldn't turn into puck regrets, but instead, reminders of being able to do better.
- Not many bright spots, but there was a moment when John Klingberg entered Anaheim's zone and actively used his frame to muscle through some Ducks. I don't expect that to be effective going forward, but Klingberg has been playing an understated aggressive game. Whether he's sick of people taking runs at him or what, it's a pleasant wrinkle to his arsenal.
- The Pacific is usually a cure all for Dallas, so maybe this was the one malignant pustule we'll look back on during this road trip.