The Stars have the 3rd-worst goal differential in the NHL (-16), and games like this are the reason why. Well, I mean, everyone being hurt forever is the reason why, but games like this are frustrating times for that reason to be made manifest.
Kari Lehtonen couldn’t get set on the wrap around chance for the Preds’ second goal, but the other three tallies were absolutely unstoppable. Both mattered. That second goal changed the game significantly, and even though Rinne would let in an even worse goal shorthanded, you still felt like the Preds had the better goaltender tonight.
However, Esa Lindell and Cody Eakin both deserve a bit of whatever the opposite of the locker room cowboy hat is on two of those goals. Cody Eakin has many skills, and it is good that he is back playing hockey for Dallas again, but his defensive-zone coverage continues to be analogous to cats playing the piano, and it is going to take years off my life if it continues. Lindell, meanwhile, couldn’t corral a puck on the first goal, and couldn’t corral his feet on the third one. It was bad.
The fourth goal (Perds) was the special one though, as the two defensemen battled to come out with the puck, and Honka looked up ice only to see all three forwards out of the zone. That was also the moment when he got the puck taken away, and while Dan Hamhuis tried the Jordie Benn Slide of Last-Ditch Doom, the Perds had three players and the puck, and Dallas had Kari Lehtonen. Dallas could have had two Carey Prices there, and that puck is still going in.
Jamie Oleksiak was paired with John Klingberg early on, and...stayed there. Jamie Oleksiak: John Klingberg’s defense partner. Do you think Lindy Ruff has like twelve empty bottles of Laphroaig in his desk drawer at this point in the season? (That is a despair joke, nothing darker.)
Julius Honka and Esa Lindell would be a fantastic team to keep running the second power play unit, yes please. Patrick Sharp is great as well, but 23 and 6 need every opportunity in the offensive zone they can get. They are good at it.
The officiating was analogous to cats playing the piano while trying to referee a hockey game. The Stars’ second power play came as a result of a nonexistent hook, and the earlier call on Patrick Eaves was, ah, a thing that happened, technically. The Stars played angry for much of this game—note that this is not the same thing as playing angrily—and it was obvious in everything from the body language to the bench, as Razor and Ludwig pointed out. Dallas ‘tweren’t thrilled with much tonight.
Speaking of which, I’ve grown to enjoy the new/temporary broadcast team. Their chemistry is really getting going now, and little tidbits and observations about the bench taking forever to change because of their annoyance with the officiating is exactly the sort of stuff I’m a sucker for. Nothing beats showing us parts of the game we might not notice otherwise.
I have kept an unofficial count of which players’ names they mention the most, and while I won’t list them all out or anything, you can probably guess the top one. I can live with a little bit of “point out the great things unrecognized player ____ does, though, especially with guys that are in their first year. They’re improving, in my humble opinion.
Go enjoy Thanksgiving or Canadian Pumpkin Memorial Day or whatever they do up there. The Stars have not played well for much of the season. They ought to have played better! We can hope that the post-Thanksgiving Stars will be better, and not even a thousand angry kittens playing Moonlight Sonata can stop us.