I’m trying to think of a good intro and all I can see is that kick save from Scott Darling against Patrick Eaves in overtime. If he’s not 6’6” there’s no way he gets his leg over in time. But he is, and he did, and I woke up this morning and we had still lost.
1. That fourth line left wing though.
Stars lines:— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 7, 2016
As discussed on Saturday night, Jason Spezza was injured during the second period of the first game against Chicago and did not return the rest of the night, and also did not come on this five game road trip. Instead, the Stars called up Justin Dowling from the Texas Stars. However, the Texas Stars just finished a back-to-back in California, and Lindy Ruff said it was a game time decision as to whether they’d play Dowling or skate a defenseman as a forward.
They went with the second option, oddly enough. With a choice of Jamie Oleksiak, Jordie Benn, and Patrik Nemeth, Ruff scratched Oleksiak, played Benn with Dan Hamhuis, and put Nemeth on the fourth line with Devin Shore and Lauri Korpikoski. It was a strange experiment, but Nemeth is a better offensive player than many give him credit for, and had a pretty good night at forward. I mean, as good a night as any Dallas Stars forward not named Gemel Smith.
2. Let Roussel be Roussel.
We’ve talked a lot about the opportunities afforded to the rookies and the young call ups with all of these injuries, but the real winner of this depleted roster is new second line winger Antoine Roussel. His minutes have sky rocketed and he’s taken the added time and pressure really well. Still does the things he does well, like agitate and draw penalties, but is making the most of his opportunities on the second line.
3. Two goalies, both alike in dignity
Lehtonen > Niemi btw— Emmanuel Perry (@MannyElk) November 7, 2016
It’s a really small sample size, but through the beginning of the regular season, Kari Lehtonen’s numbers look better than Antti Niemi’s. They’ve got a similar save percentage, but Lehtonen’s goals against average is lower and he’s closer to the NHL average than Niemi in both goals saved and goals against averages.
Yes, he let in four goals last night. But on two of those goals he was completely alone in front of the two leading scorers on the Blackhawks, and one one of them he was screened by his own guys. Goaltending has not been our strongest point and there’s no arguing that point, but through the beginning of this season, Lehtonen’s been the stronger candidate for net.
4. Do you wanna buy a forward? It really has to be a forward.
I don't know. They just acquired Nemeth from the defense. https://t.co/D9xF0pxjrg— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 7, 2016
I’d really like to go ahead and appreciate the Stars’ beat reporters for the amount of times I’ve seen them answer the same questions over and over. Should the Stars try for another forward? I don’t see how. We’ve got some cap wiggle room but not enough to make an appreciable difference for our top six, which is where we’re missing players. We’ve got six players on injured reserve that no one will want to take off our hands for a player that’s going to make any difference for us. And we’ve got a young group of forwards that it makes no sense to trade at this time.
Maybe if we could unload some of our extra defensemen, but we’ve just moved one to forward, so no real need there either, right?
5. Defensive pairings maybe not the best yet.
Klingberg needs a real BFF. Someone who can keep up with him while he runs along the beach in a crop top amidst the peaceful waves. pic.twitter.com/lHbXzUacUP— David Castillo (@DavidCastilloAC) November 7, 2016
The numbers that are circled with the handwritten OMG! are Lindell and Klingberg’s corsi for percentages. As Klingberg’s night goes, there goes the Stars’ night, normally. As the #1 defenseman on our team, the Stars usually look to Klingberg to drive play and possession.
The defensive pairings have been shuffled almost as much as the forward lines and with different reasoning. We have eight healthy defenseman at the moment, though we can’t buy a forward, and Ruff has been having a hard time finding someone who matches with Klingberg as well as Goligoski did last season. I don’t think letting Goligoski go was a bad choice, but they haven’t been able to fill the hole left at this point, and Dan Hamhuis clearly wasn’t the answer.
Has anyone forgotten the night Jordie Benn opened the game on the top pairing?
6. Choose optimism
The Stars are broken, fielding a ton of AHLers/rookies/kids, and still hang tight with the 'Hawks twice in two days. I choose optimism!— Mancomb Seepgood (@Pat_Iversen) November 7, 2016
I knew when I singled this tweet out that I was asking for it in the comments section, so I’ve been instructed by Pat Iverson to invite all of you to @ him on twitter with your comments about this tweet. But listen, y’all, he’s not wrong. Yes, Klingberg isn’t playing like Klingberg. Our goalies are still our goalies. Jamie Benn can’t buy a goal.
But with six of our top nine players missing and fourth line left wing Patrik Nemeth, we only lost by one point Saturday night. We took them to overtime last night. We’re below 500, but we’re not out and we’re still doing better than three other teams in our division. We are, at this very moment in time, in possession of a wild card spot.
There are causes for concern, but there are also causes for optimism. Choose optimism!
Smiling is better than crying, anyway.