The Dallas Stars haven't woken from their hockey slumber. Their only recent wins are over the Edmonton Oilers, and now the Calgary Flames (fresh off a back to back); not exactly a challenging bucket list of puck craftsmen.
The wins were fairly ugly as well, and tonight was no different. But at least they have one eye open. Despite Dallas dominating, they still couldn't generate results the way they used to. But in the end, the result was a win. And that's quite good enough.
I really don't want to get worried about Klingberg on the PP. I am going to pretend he isn't coughing up breakaways.— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) January 26, 2016
Dallas came out swinging, much like they have the past several games. As fate would have it, Dallas found themselves on the PP early. Would the changes, this time a five man unit of Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Patrick Eaves-Alex Goligoski-John Klingberg, be enough to change their current woes? As it turns out, not really. Klingberg gave up yet another shorthanded opportunity with an aggressive attempt to keep the puck in. Thankfully, the rest of his game isn't in disarray or anything, but it's definitely an element of his game that needs work.
2. Mile High #Starsing
The first period was a retread of the game against the ridiculous Colorado Avalanche. Unlike against Colorado, I never got the sense that Dallas was frustrated with flubbing their chances. It's still worrying to see the few chances Calgary had be such prime chances, but it's nice to know that this team is in a real groove on the ice, even if the results have been mixed.
WHAT THE pic.twitter.com/n6U2NC7bU8— Travis Yost (@travisyost) January 26, 2016
Jamie Benn would open up the scoring after an excellent pass by Valeri Nichushkin down low. And what a beauty it was. Don't take my word for it though. Just watch and hang on to your hockey pants.
Jason Spezza would then quickly make it 2-0 off a Klingberg pinch. With it, Dallas now officially has 4 players at or above 40 points on the year, with a 5th (Spezza) one point away from making it five. As impressive as it is, the slump certainly hasn't allowed most of Dallas' fans to feel like they're watching a high powered offense. Dallas can now enjoy the fact that their 2nd period shooting percentage is no longer zero percent.
4. Ruff Love
Lindell out there killing penalties— Josh Lile (@JoshL1220) January 26, 2016
We'll talk about Lindell in a bit, but I wouldn't call the PK a smashing success or anything. If it wasn't for some really bad bounces, and open nets getting missed, Calgary could have easily capitalized on their early PP opportunities. However, it seems Ruff is aware of just how dangerous the PK is to the team's success. Not only did Lindell get opportunities, but so did Jyrki Jokipakka (who would be fine after taking a puck to the helmet), and Mattias Janmark is quickly becoming a staple on the short handed unit. All in all, steps in the right direction.
5. Expectations, Mr. Bob
I really want to see Stephen Johns here in February. 23 doesn't look like anything we don't already have up here to me.— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) January 26, 2016
A lot of commotion on Twitter about the scouts at the game. Scouts coming from all over: Penguins, Lightning, Hurricanes, Canucks, Kings, Predators, Canadiens, Sharks, and Jets to be exact. The most bombastic of assumptions is that Lindell is being "showcased". It's not a silly assumption, but it is misguided in some ways. After all, the scouts aren't the one negotiating with Jim Nill. And Nill isn't the kind of guy to give up such a talented 21 year old asset.
Lindell did struggle, but he made some good plays in addition to some mediocre ones (he's always struggled with cutting off angles, kind of a byproduct of his skating), which is pretty much what you expect out of 21 year old rookie defensemen. The most worrying thing about Lindell so far isn't even his overall game, but counting how many times he's dropped his stick. I'm being a little facetious, but it's still a little amusing just because it really sticks out. The other thing to note about Bob's comment is that he's doing what many fans do; turning whispers into enthusiasm.
Esa Lindell, should he continue to improve, is the kind of player who can threaten from the point without being the defensemen that can be easily forechecked off the puck. The other side of his tweet coin from Mr. Sturm (who I enjoy, so take this as constructive criticism) is that Dallas fans have done this before. The part where we define a player by archetype (i.e. defensive defensemen), and then struggle to make sense of it all when that player is quite different than the archetype we assumed they belong to. Yes, I'm talking about Patrik Nemeth.
6. From Corsi to Mercy
Seeing Vernon Fiddler, Colton Sceviour, and Patrick Eaves dominate is kind of hilarious. Less hilarious is seeing Tyler Seguin end up the only negative possession player for the Stars. But he'll be fine. On to some stray observations
- Officiating continues to be really really problematic. The calls were questionable on both sides, and it's an issue that seems present in a ton of NHL games. And I don't mean just for the Stars. What explains this is beyond me, but good lord.
- One of the things I liked about the Power Play, besides Klingberg's continued miscues, was their zone entries. They ditched the drop pass completely and went to lightning quick passes up high with the forwards rushing forward. Simple stupid stuff that seemed to pay dividends as far as scoring chances. However, I still have doubts about why the power play unit can't stay the same using the new strategy. Goligoski and Eaves aren't exactly magicians. But I can see the logic if Dallas wants to have two legitimate units.
- Antti Niemi was a little too spry in the crease, but he came up big when it counted. I can't complain too much about his game.
- Hooray for the All Star Break?
- Goligoski played an absolutely monster game. That is all.
- According to those in the know, the Klingburger is good, but not earth shattering. Not that you'd expect it to be, but still. I love you Klingman, but I'll stick to the juicy legitness of Casino El Camino in Austin