Not much to say about this, the second loss in a back-to-back on the road. So let’s tweet about it.
1. Ch-ch-ch-changes to the lineup
Jiri Hudler and Johnny Oduya both in tonight. Nemeth and Korpikoski are scratches. Oleksiak is serving first game of two-game suspension.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 11, 2016
Jiri Hudler is back from the trenches of whatever mysterious illness has been ailing him since the beginning of the season. This game was only his fifth, and he hadn’t played since the November 1 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Johnny Oduya’s visit from the IR fairy was due to the “lower body injury” bug, which catches everyone at some point. This was his first game since November 19 against Edmonton.
And, of course, Jamie Oleksiak was out due a two game suspension for elbowing Chris Vandevelde in the head on Saturday night.
2. The road goalie
Have to imagine decision to start Kari for 5th straight in back-to-back has to do with 8 of next 9 coming at home where Ruff prefers Niemi.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) December 12, 2016
Lindy Ruff made the decision to start Kari Lehtonen on the road last night, in his second game in a back-to-back. It’s not like a goalie never plays two back-to-back games, and it’s not like Lehtonen has never done so. But the decision seemed odd, given how the game on Saturday ended.
However, Lehtonen had been good for 55 minutes of play on Saturday, and he wasn’t even in the net for one of the goals.
Plus, as stated in the tweet, Ruff has stated a preference for playing Lehtonen on the road and his goalie partner Antti Niemi at home. Lehtonen is .868 on the road and .882 at home. For contrast, Niemi is .936 at home and .846 on the road.
For the record, we are still getting slightly above league average goaltending at 5v5. What we aren’t getting is league average penalty killing, which was the Stars’ undoing this weekend.
3. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry
He didn't punch either of us, actually... https://t.co/jPjA5Lv1AL— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) December 12, 2016
In the second period, Lehtonen let in a stinker of a goal from Marian Hossa. And look, Marian Hossa is an excellent hockey player and I’m definitely not trying to take anything away from his accomplishments, but I think we can all agree this didn’t have much to do with him.
And everything to do with Lehtonen not quite having his thighs together. About fifteen seconds later, still mad about the goal, probably, Lehtonen hit Andrew Desjardins in the . . . let’s call them “sensitive areas” with his stick. Not the best move from Lehtonen, but that wasn’t the power play the Blackhawks scored on, so I’ll allow it. Goalie has to be the best penalty killer anyway, normally, even more so when it’s his penalty.
4. It needed to be said
Jamie Benn is playing injured, and I can prove it using fancy stats.— Carolyn Wilke (@Classlicity) December 12, 2016
Let Jamie Benn be Jamie Benn, we cry from the stands, except he hasn’t been for most of this season. He’s still second in points on the Stars, but that isn’t saying much with the lack of offense we’ve had this season. Even when we were losing a lot in seasons past, we were still getting more goals than this.
So what are the fancy stats? If you read the twitter thread from that tweet, he isn’t taking as many shots as he normally does, isn’t throwing nearly as many hits despite the fact that Dallas trails in possession in most games and you’d therefore be throwing MORE hits, normally, and his scoring chances for percentage is down, which means he isn’t crashing the net like he normally does.
He admitted early in the season he was dealing with a lingering issue, but it is apparently even more lingering and more of an issue than he’s able to manage over time.
He’s playing gingerly, timidly, and because he’s Jamie Benn that means he’s just a good hockey player instead of a great one.
5. And now for the even more depressing tweets
Wonder at what point it will hit me that they probably won't be in the playoffs this year.— Michael Dixon (@mdixonair) December 12, 2016
There are currently six teams behind us in the standings, all with games in hand on us. Even more distressing, if those teams win all their games in hand, they all jump ahead of us. How likely is it that they win all of their games in hand? I mean, they’re all down here with us for a reason.
Look, personally? I’m going to start worrying about the playoffs when we can string more than two wins together at a time. Or, you know, two wins together for only the second time this season.
6. Arm chair coaching
So we can't hockey. Worse, no one seems to have any idea what to do about it. #GoStars— Punk Rock Pearl (@Sneeze7x) December 12, 2016
It seems to be a laundry list of things, doesn’t it? First it was the depleted roster, but either Mattias Janmark is the lynch pin no one knew about or the roster wasn’t the sum total of our problems. One of our best two players is apparently playing injured and has been the whole season, which could have something to do with our offense, but again, can’t be the whole issue.
Our defensive core got a lot younger over the off season and we’ve taken a lot of hits to our penalty kill in particular because of it.
I see a lot of armchair GMs and coaches on twitter and in the comments here, what would you do to save the season? Can it be saved?