On a night that is traditionally full of national anxiety one way or another, it’s somehow fitting that the Stars would remind us that hockey still happens, even if the people don’t show up.
We know we are not watching The Dallas Stars right now. If nothing else suggested that things are different, the Tyler Seguin - Adam Cracknell - Antoine Roussel line combo should have clued you in. Everything is broken and nothing is good on this team right now. It’s telling when the goalie who let in four really didn’t have a bad game at all, and it’s even more telling when “the goalie who let in four” doesn’t narrow it down to just one of your team’s goalies.
“Rock Bottom” and “terrible” and “awful” are all appropriate terms for this game, but this wasn’t quite the sort of way you usually see a team blown out.
Shots on goal? 31-30.
Face-offs? (I know) 52%-48%
Power plays? 2/5 and 3/5. (Though WPG also had a short-handed goal, so maybe make that 4/5.)
No, tonight wasn’t a far superior team embarrassing a squad of plugs. Tonight was a team playing a far superior game against a team that isn’t really a team. And they were never supposed to be, of course.
Dallas had good, sustained pressure at times. They also got completely caved in at other times, such as the second period, when they gave up something like 15 straight shots on goal in a row. Oh yeah, they also surrendered four goals then, too.
Patrik Laine is really good. He is good! And young. There’s nothing like having a really great rookie, that’s for sure. Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine...those are players that can make bad teams less bad. The Stars already have two of those players with some age on them in Seguin and Benn, but still, you have to admire youth performing at that level that quickly.
Tyler Seguin is having one heck of a start to the season, even if no one else is. That shouldn’t be lost amidst all the nonsense going on right now. Appreciate Tyler Seguin because he is just wonderful and special. Are you cherishing Tyler Seguin? You ought to be.
I don’t remember how many odd-man rushes the Stars surrendered, but it feels like five or six. I think Winnipeg scored on three or four of them. Notice that I am not parsing each one, trying to nail down who messed up. You know who messed up tonight? The Dallas Stars. Left Wing Patrik Nemeth couldn’t track down Patrik Laine tonight. If you want the game in a sentence, that’s as good as any.
Another good summary? The Stars bungling a 4-on-2 one direction when Jordie Benn dropped the puck into Seguin’s skates (and still almost scored) before the 2-on-1 the other way saw Dan Hamhuis sliding into Kari Lehtonen.
Oh yeah, hey, two requests after tonight:
1. Stop doing the Tyler “Sequin” thing. You are five years old. He is 24 and scoring bushels of goals. Appreciate him, even if you don’t care for every single thing about him. He is very special.
2. You don’t get to hit the “UGH KARI OMG” button automatically every time the other team scores on him. Tonight? All four of those goals were excusable to impossible to stop. That doesn’t mean anyone thinks Kari is a top-20 goalie or anything, just that he isn’t always the one to blame.
3. Be cool. Just...everyone. Be cool.
Brett Ritchie hit Enstrom with an elbow, so that might be something to keep an eye on. It wasn’t a flagrant flying elbow, but it also wouldn’t make me happy if I saw John Klingberg get hit with the same sort of “leading with elbow” hit. (“BUT HAY, MEBBE IT WOULD KNOCK SOME SENTS INTO HIM”)
Here’s a nice thing: the Stars’ first power play. Really solid puck control, but the best chance was the one that put the puck in the net, when Shore fed Eaves (who I believe had been on the entire power play for 90+ seconds along with Seguin and Klingberg) for the perfectly executed tip. That was perseverance and tenacity! How great was that, that one time the Stars were not losing by a hundred goal points.
The Jets weren’t generating a ton of shots, but they were loving the low-to-high puck movement, trying to free up players in the slot for prime chances. There’s something to that, not just piling up shots for shots’ sake. I dunno, maybe someone should do some research there.
After 1:40 of a great Stars’ PK, things collapsed after Faksa and Roussel got confused and came off the bench late. Haha, whoops! What a couple of goof balls! Lehtonen was able to make the first great save off Laine all alone in front, but Laine had time and space to collect the puck again, pull it away from Lehtonen, and then stuff the rebound, fold some laundry, and check his latests Snaps from his really cool cousin. Tyler Seguin’s expression coming out of the box said it all when it said, “Really guys? We are going to do this?”
How many great chances did Roussel and Ritchie get? Again, hooray for them, but you need your great finishers getting the great chances, and the Stars are missing, like, all of those.
Let’s really dig into the dirt now for just the worst oh man I can’t do this well whatever the internet might be canceled tomorrow so why not: Jordie put the Stars on a brief 5v3 after some guy named Marko Dano lit him up with perhaps an overeager hit. You get Benn’s response there for a bordline-late hit (I don’t think it’s a penalty), but you can’t be dropping your gloves if you’re not sure the other guy is going.
McKenzie’s misconduct penalty was, for my money, completely gratuitous, but you know the officials are just trying to control the game there, so it’s hard to blame them all the same. Still, didn’t think they really had to T him up there.
So yeah, the fifth goal (by some guy named Marko Dano) in the dying seconds of the Jordie penalty was like an adult kicking over a sandcastle. You knew they could do it, but you just hoped they wouldn’t. They can, and they did. They did it many times. Many many many times.
LATER ON, A BIG IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT HAPPENED: ANOTHER GOAL FOR JETS TEAM HOCKEY GUYS: The PK was sagging, Shore and Hamhuis left the middle open, and the Scheifle one-timer was a formality. I don’t blame Ruff for gamely challenging with some crease rump-bump, but I do blame Ruff very much for prolonging this game. Maybe it was his version of a forced march after one of the soliders forget to starch their socks or something.
Also, more fun great times good news: Let’s give Roussel an Atta Boy for not going full Rage Against the Machine when Thorburn got his grimy mitts all over him. Restraint and intelligence are great qualities in savvy hockey players, is a sentence I just typed who cares it was eight to two Robert do you seriously think anyone will read this penguin penguin penguin penguin hockey game, and that’s how things go.
Radek Faksa got punched by Tyler Myers tonight. I don’t care about your views on anything at all: I don’t want to see that happen. I vote (topical humor) against that happening ever again.
We can argue about defense pairs, because obviously the Stars might only lose 4-2 or 5-3 if all the defense plays great tonight. We can argue about the penalty kill, because obviously names like Smith, Korpikoski, McKenzie and Shore just need to play better NHL shorthanded hockey. Completely inexcusable for the Texas Stars to be giving up that many power play goals.
I’m tired of watching the Fake Dallas Stars. I miss Ales Hemsky more every day, and I feel like Jason Spezza is the cool big brother who has started spending a lot more time doing homework with that girl from science class and a lot less time playing Super Nintendo with us. I want the Dallas Stars back.
Maybe the only consolation we can take from tonight—again, aside from Tyler Seguin being Tyler Seguin—is that the team that got beat 8-2 tonight was not, in fact, the Dallas Stars. We are not mourning a loss; we are grieving an absence. Let’s continue holding on to the hope that the absence is only a temporary one.