Thus ends the Stars home stand, not with a whimper but a bang. In five games played at home since Tuesday, December 13, the Stars have gone 3-1-1. Prior to the home stand, after that disastrous weekend on the road in Philadelphia and Chicago, Lindy Ruff said this home stand could define the rest of the season for the Stars.
Here’s hoping it does.
Early indications have Oleksiak playing defense and the Stars potentially rotating center through 4th line of Cracknell and Hudler.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 24, 2016
With Antoine Roussel sustaining an upper body injury during practice on Wednesday, the Stars made some noise yesterday about playing Jamie Oleksiak at forward. Funny as that might have been, Oleksiak skated as a defenseman and Radek Faksa double shifted with Jiri Hudler and Adam Cracknell on the fourth line.
The shuffling continues, and our injured list is a bit of a disaster still.
2. About those special teams
Including tonight, over the last 13 games the Stars are +7 in 5v5 goal differential. In all other situations they are -11.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) December 24, 2016
This was tweeted during the first period, after Jeff Carter had scored on the power play but before Esa Lindell scored at 3-on-3 in overtime.
This is related to what we’ve been saying about the goalie save percentage at 5v5 too. Our special teams have been pretty abysmal, and our overtime record also speaks for itself. (Other than tonight, of course.)
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it till it changes, our special teams have got to get better.
Crossbars riiiing, are you listenin'? Powerplay... we're still missin'. At least start a fight. Try something tonight. #Starsing in a...— Punk Rock Pearl (@Sneeze7x) December 24, 2016
3. #RuffleShuffle: Goalie Edition
Kari with some big stops in the second period. This is his first appearance so far on the homestand.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) December 24, 2016
Antti Niemi has been Ruff’s goalie of choice at home, and for good reason. His record at home is better than his record on the road, and better than Kari Lehtonen’s record at home. However, at the end of the home stand, with one game left to go before the Christmas break, Ruff tapped Lehtonen for the rare home game. With two home losses under his belt, maybe Ruff just wanted to change it up at home. Either way, Lehtonen came through in a big way for the Stars tonight, making some huge saves.
He did give up two goals, of course. One on the penalty kill and one on a 3-on-2 rush where the defense just decided to stop skating half way into the zone. I’ve watched the play several times now and can’t figure out what they were trying to cover.
Either way, things I did not expect to say after last season: thank goodness for Kari Lehtonen.
4. Well, not wrong
That goal does not matter. It takes 3 goals to win a hockey game. 2 is not enough. Make em score the third one.— Brad Gardner (@bradgardnerDBD) December 24, 2016
The Stars can win any game as long as they can score three goals or more. The problem this season, of course, has been that they are so rarely scoring three goals. The Stars don’t have the defensive system designed to win 1-0 hockey games on the regular.
5. Here’s a first I’m happy to give up
It's a Festivus Miracle! The Stars hand the LA kings their first OTL of the season. Win means Dallas finishes homestand 3-1-1 (7-of-10 pts.)— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) December 24, 2016
Kari Lehtonen and Esa Lindell wrapped this up just for you, Kings fans. It was pretty nerve wracking, going into an overtime with a team that hasn’t lost yet, but the Stars do love to defy expectations. It’s been the theme of the season.
6. And now, for feelings
Soldier comes home from war, surprises father with Stars jersey. Sports crying ensues.— DefendingBigD (@DefendingBigD) December 24, 2016
This was a special moment in during a stoppage in play. If you celebrate it, Merry Christmas. If you don’t, have a great Sunday. Happy Holidays, y’all.