Dallas has been ice skating uphill the past two games. It hasn’t been your typical narrative either, like losing to good goaltending or special teams. They were just beating themselves over and over with a logic cudgel, ostensibly lost in space.
The Predators are a team on the rise, and many assume them to be the frontrunner with their young forwards, and envy of the league blueline. How could this possibly be a good time to show team D in efficient fashion?
1 Southern Snide
Point projections! Bright colours! pic.twitter.com/kGIajinsVc— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 18, 2016
Nashville is the big bad wolf of the Central, according to most analysts and observers. But their play barely registered as sentient. Dallas displayed a really tough forecheck, while keeping the hot potato hockey at a minimum. Sort of.
Dallas still looked awkward offensively. Either as a function of their defensive mindedness, or still searching for a rhythm, a lot of flubbed passes happened. Hell, Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak looked more comfortable than Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza.
2 All Your Corsi Are Belong to Us
Dallas dominated the first. They found the notes despite not playing the music. The main thing was seeing the difference between a goaltending who struggles with rebounds, and one who struggles with everything else exception rebounds. But seriously, Kari Lehtonen played a strong first period, which is always encouraging. No matter how much the cloud of skepticism looms.
3 Korpikoski with the Little Impressions
Korpikoski dips the shoulder and heads to the net. Love that move. He’s been impressive on the young season. #DALvsNSH— Jeff K (@jeffk_stars) October 19, 2016
There were a few standout players through the first two periods. But Cracknell and Korpikoski continue their simple stupid puck pursuit I find myself appreciating more and more. In time, I’d like to see Dickinson. And none of this even counts the room that must be made for Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky, and even Mattias Janmark (!). But I appreciate an overachiever when I see one, and Korpikoski has been doing that.
4 Not According to the Odds
Probabilities for tonight's games pic.twitter.com/5H4KPg8XBz— ausdom matthews (@omgitsdomi) October 18, 2016
The pocket protector crowd (unlike Ken Campbell, love you guys) had Dallas losing, but some grunt work from Adam Cracknell and Mike Fisher made sure that this game would be a grindy, attritive affair. One of the standouts, just as it was in the first game was Stephen Johns. He had a couple of tough shifts blocking shots from PK Subban, and fumbling the puck exiting the zone, but he still ended up 65% CF (!). A lot of fans long for the Lindell-Johns pair. But I still maintain that Oduya is underappreciated for what he’s doing at this stage of his career, even without the footspeed that the Stars’ system ‘demands’.
5 Spak ‘Em
the other lines are picking up the speed, energy, and intensity of the fourth, which is what the Stars need from the get go— Blackout Dallas (@BlackoutDallas) October 19, 2016
The Line Blender sometimes gets flack, and sometimes rightfully so, but settling on the bizarre trio of Antoine Roussel, Radek Faksa, and Jason Spezza on Faksa’s wing turned out to be money. As in, they got 11% of their faceoff starts in the offensive zone, and still broke a 65% shot attempt differential at even strength. Like I said. Money.
Stars get a well-earned W and defeat the Predators 2-1. Improve to 2-1-0 on the season. pic.twitter.com/05eh7KM2Sw— X - Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) October 19, 2016
The game itself may not have provided us a lot of action, but it produced plenty of narratives. Dallas hung on at the end, and fans didn’t even really have to hang on to their butts, as Sir Sam Jackson would say. It was nice to see Devin Shore earn some ‘coaches trust’ time in the waning minutes with Nashville up an extra attacker. I was told Ruff doesn’t trust young guys though. Probably just a glitch in the matrix.
-Sharp, Ritchie, and Shore had their moments, but they got chewed up possession wise (relative to the other lines at least). They still look like a solid trio, but call me spoiled, I just keep thinking about how much better the line would be if it were Janmark on Shore’s left, and Sharp on his right. Brett Ritchie is still more percussion than precision, and there were a few times when Janmark’s speed would have come in handy. They need more time to settle in, but tonight was a “perfect game”, so I might as well nitpick and stir controversy where none exists.
-Lindell and Oleksiak didn’t get much play. Both logged 13 minutes of total ice time. It wasn’t enough to make an impression, but at least they didn’t look uncomfortable. Oleksiak had some token bipolar flashes (a coast to coaster and a bad pinch), while Lindell got his slick wrister off a few times, but with the top four established, it’ll be interesting to see just where this carousel goes.
-Benn and Seguin still haven’t quite clicked, but give it a few more games. The chemistry will reach a boil soon enough.