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34th Verse, Same as the First: 6 Easy Tweets

The Stars played a game last night. They lost.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I can sugarcoat this bitter pill before you swallow it, Stars fans. The Stars actually played a really good game last night. They outpossessed (by a lot) and outshot the St. Louis Blues, who had lost four of their last five games, including a game the previous night at home against Edmonton.

Unfortunately, while we managed to get to overtime to eke out a point, it’s another game in the loss column for a pretty dismal season.

1. In the beginning, there was hope

Hope in the hearts of men. But the hearts of men are weak. I’ll stop quoting Lord of the Rings now.

As was mentioned in last night’s recap, this was a game of some serious un-luck. The Blues were without their top defenseman and on the second night of a back-to-back, and they actually played like it.

corsica.hockey

Despite 38 shots on goal to the Blues’ 22, the Stars were only able to get 2 past Jake Allen, who has, according to the pre-game scouting reports, been . . . not great recently.

2. Niemi’s biography, coming soon to bookshelves near you

Still gonna talk about the goaltending, because yes. Antti Niemi let in three goals on 22 shots. But you want to talk about those three goals? The first came off a really bad rebound from Johnny Oduya’s skate. Could have gone literally anywhere, but it ended up on Jason Schwartz’s stick.

The second came on what really could have been goaltender interference. Contact wasn’t made until after the puck slid by, but it was pretty dang close. Johnny Oduya (again, unfortunately) was shoving David Perron into Niemi at the time, so whether there was contact or not, his movement would have been impeded.

I’d rather not talk about the overtime goal, but we’re already here. Radek Faksa was knocked down and for some reason, both Esa Lindell and Antoine Roussel followed David Perron behind the net, like hell’s version of follow-the-leader. Niemi challenged on that side of the net, and Faksa and a literally diving Roussel couldn’t scramble over fast enough to cover the wide-open side of the net that Perron eventually scored on. I have no idea what Lindell and Roussel were doing.

But to link this back to my chosen tweet, Niemi does occasionally look scrambly. I’d kind of like him to stay a little deeper in the crease. I’d love it if he at least gave the appearance of having things calmly under control. But this is the goaltending we’ve got, and it’s not our Achilles heel this year.

3. Our actual Achilles heel

That would be our lack of offense.

Listen, Patrick Eaves is our top goal scorer. I’m not actually that mad about that, but he scored 11 goals last year in 54 games. He’s at 12 right now in 33.

Last year, Jamie Benn scored 41 goals in 82 games. That’s literally a goal every other game. This year? He’s scored 9 in 34, which is a little over one in four. Tyler Seguin scored 33 in 72 last year, and is currently sitting at 10 in 34, which is almost the same difference. Jason Spezza was 33 in 75 last year, and is 6 in 27 this year, which is a worse percentage than Jamie Benn.

I’ve already said I believe Jamie Benn is playing hurt, and I’ve pointed at some numbers and his own admission at the beginning of the season that he was dealing with a “nagging” injury.

Our biggest problem this year, other than our struggly penalty kill on the road, is our lack of offense. In seasons past, when we told you it was our goaltending, it was because our forwards would score 5 goals in a game and we’d lose 6-5. If he’d repeated last year’s performance, Jamie Benn would have at least 15 goals already, and Seguin and Spezza shouldn’t be far behind.

4. Instead, it’s Major Patrick Eaves

This letter survived the battlefield of that fateful night in December, when Maj Eaves stood stalwart and true, in defense of his fallen fellows.

Dearest Annabelle,

There are days I think our cause may never prevail, and our hope is vain. I endeavor always to not give in to such thoughts as plague my nights, for our days are weary and difficult enough. I have drawn first blood in battle many times in this war, and did so again this battle just past, but it was for naught. I will not speak of the green lieutenants that caused the final blow to strike Maj Niemi. He will recover soon enough, and I do not wish to bring more condemnation upon them. Remember us in your prayers, dear Annabelle.

5. Overtime has not been our friend

And the gif in this tweet is pretty indicative of how it’s gone for us this season in overtime. In eight games that have gone to overtime, we’ve only won one of them. None of those games have gone to a shootout, that’s all three-on-three hockey. It just hasn’t been pretty.

6. Here’s where I bust out the sadness graph

Every day, Micah McCurdy at hockeyviz.com updates what he calls his sadness graph. This is a graph of the likelihood that a team will both miss the playoffs AND not pick in the top five of the next draft. Dallas currently sits at 45%, which is actually up a percentage point from yesterday.

This is what the sadness graph looks like, for reference:

hockeyviz.com

It’s cheerful looking for something so sad, eh? But this is our reality this season.