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Game 24 Afterwords: Stars Finally Look Like Last Year’s Stars, Unfortunately

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Like, the ones who would lose to Colorado and Toronto and stuff. Those Stars.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Detroit Red Wings
Hey, overt metaphors are still metaphors.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

First things first: Dave Strader made this game special. Hearing his voice on the broadcast, and seeing him back in a booth with Razor was special. We can’t wait to see you back in Dallas, Dave.

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Second things second: Let’s hope Stephen Johns is okay after this bump. I don’t think this was dirty, for the record. Really does just seem to be a bad bit of timing on both ends.

Get well soon, Stephen.

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Okay, so, that game. Dallas did a great impression of a good team playing a worse team by scoring right away. Lindell threw the puck right back at the net after a scramble in which Seguin alertly bumped it out to him, and he got a good bounce. That would have been a nice little bullet point to start a game that the Stars dominated at even strength, except for the little fact that the Stars would do nothing else in the way of scoring all night long.

You can’t expect Jamie Oleksiak to keep getting this team points they don’t deserve, but he still created a couple of chances ex nihilo, including wending his way into the slot through a bunch of apparently drowsy Red Wings players. What is crazier: that Oleksiak played a couple games next to Klingberg, or that Oleksiak is playing (and playing well) while Klingberg is healthy-scratched? The answer is, obviously, both of those things. They are both crazy.

The Johns/Oleksiak pairing had its moments, good and bad, but it was impressive in its functionality, and almost shockingly good in the offensive zone, at times. John Klingberg is too good to ever be scratched in most any circumstance, but it’s tough to look at these defense pairings tonight and pick out a player who has been playing obviously worse than Klingberg recently.

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Julius Honka, by the way, is still doing lots of things well. He led the blue line in ice time, and kept the puck in the other zone an absurd amount of the time. How weird is it that we still haven’t seen him, Klingberg and Johns anchoring the right side of the defense together in a game yet?

The one thing that is unfortunate about tonight is that Honka didn’t quite look like a veteran power play defenseman on a night when the Stars desperately needed a power play goal. Honka didn’t make any big mistakes or anything—how he still got the pass across the point after Ott tripped him to set up the 5-on-3 still baffles me—but I really did miss Klingberg on that two-man advantage. Of course, we all know that Klingberg would have had some bit of misfortune to exacerbate his situation, so maybe it’s all for the best. This sure did not feel like the best, though.

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Hey, speaking of misfortune, I’d like to thank Jordie Benn for reminding us that he is still definitely very much Jordie Benn. I wish the Red Wings didn’t know about the cheat code that allowed teams to score just by shooting at him, but what are you gonna do? Savvy team, those Wings.

Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the hooking call on Benn (for hooking Ott, of course) that set up the second Detroit PPG, but what do I know? I don’t know very much about refereeing, but I do know that I don’t like it when they make calls I don’t like.

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And speaking of things I wasn’t thrilled about, Petr Mrazek can go right ahead and move into the Joe forever and not come back. From coming up with big saves to trying to butt-concuss Patrick Sharp then flop like Mike Smith the instant Sharp touched him, Mrazek did not earn himself an Happy Decemberween card from me, no siree.

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That second power play goal was one Jamie Oleksiak would like back, as he seemed to check out of the rush right before the puck came back to Anthony Mantha for the tap-in.

That rush was also created by Esa Lindell losing track of his man as well, however, and thus began the 2-on-1 in the first place. It’s crazy that Lindell and Oleksiak are killing penalties right now, so I can’t really muster up too much frustration at either of them for getting picked apart by Detroit.

Well, okay, maybe I can summon up a little bit of frustration. Ah, yes. There it is.

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The Stars absolutely dominated this game outside of special teams, which sort of is nice until you remember that the Red Wings are battling a level of injury troubles unseen since the 2016-17 Dallas Stars. Still, Dallas really did possess the puck wonderfully tonight, and goaltending was as good as you could ask Kari Lehtonen to be tonight. (I’m sure someone will still complain about him not stopping those two goals with his mind, though.)

One-game possession numbers don’t mean much of anything, but Jason Spezza led the second line to an absurd 84% of the shot attempts while they were on the ice. Julius Honka and Dan Hamhuis were both in the seventies as well. Point being, the Stars had the puck way more for most of this game, but the Wings were able to score in three effectively empty nets during times the Stars had either four or six skaters on the ice. That is capitalization.

Also, my theory on Devin Shore’s abysmal possession numbers is that he is desperately trying to avoid being traded to the nerds running the Florida Panthers now. Nothing else explains it.

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The Stars went 0-for-5 on the power play, and I believe they now have the worst road power play in the league. I’m not looking that up again, but I read it somewhere, and I am pretty confident that it is true. Their home power play is pretty good, though!

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Look, this game was one of those games. In a fun season, these are little speed bumps that annoy you as you watch them, but they fade into the recesses of your memory quickly enough. This season, the Stars are literally 9-9-6. They need to start being that jerk in the parking lot who weaves around speed bumps, and quickly. The dumb Toronto and Colorado games last year felt mostly like taking our medicine, as we’re all fans with a prescription for heartache. This season, it feels like masochism. We’ve suffered enough, hockey. Please change the channel.