Kari Lehtonen ought to have shut out Calgary tonight with his play. Curtis McKenzie scored for the second game in a row. And that just about does it for the Bag O’ Compliments for this game, so saddle up.
I think it was after the 38th* Calgary breakaway that I started to wonder just how well Dallas was playing. I mean, true, Dallas had gotten the opening goal, and that from a 4th-liner. They were getting contributions from their depth (well, contribution, since it was unassisted) and goaltending the likes of which Dallas fans haven’t seen since their last shutout, whenever that was.
*That was the one where Johnny Gaudreau went to the locker room then parachuted down into the Stars’ zone from one of those blimp things while staying onside somehow.
Yes, despite all of those many positives, there was just something about Dallas’s game that I couldn’t put my finger on. Something that seemed “off,” just not quite where it needed to be. Then it hit me: Dallas was sort of not so much “scoring goals ever.” Oh yeah, that. That is important!
Jordan tweeted out how bad 5v5 scoring has been for Spezza, Benn and Seguin this year, and that got me wondering about the top six in general. So here are the Dallas Stars’ most recent even-strength goal scorers, starting with tonight. I do not recommend mixing this list with alcohol.
Jamie Oleksiak again
Nope, that Jamie Benn Goal was in 3v3 Overtime on November 21st so haha doesn’t count
Johnny Oduya (not sure who this is, but sounds familiar; will need to check media guide)
Patrick Eaves (wait, I thought we were excluding top-six forwards from this list? No?)
You get the idea. To save you time cleaning up your tear-drenched keyboard, I’ll just let you know that November 10th was the last 5v5 goal from any of the big three. That was Jamie Benn in Calgary. Seguin and Spezza both scored at evens on November 1st, in Columbus.
So when Jason Spezza got himself a breakaway after a mad-dash bit of play with the Stars playing with four skaters, you were rooting for him. It was time! It was not time. Spezza tried to play defense by shooting that Gaudreau blimp down from the rafters instead of hitting the net or anything near it, and Dallas would somehow only score a single goal against what I am told is a “Chad Johnson.” Gotta find that media guide.
No reason to get too down about things though. Julius Honka got some time on the top power play tonight, and hey, he’s looking pretty good and no, wait, he was wearing a cast after the game, but he isn’t “seriously” injured despite leaving for good after playing 10 minutes. My theory is that Dallas is trying to bait the universe with fake injuries so that Chaos and Destruction himself will pass over their firstbo- er, sorry, first-round pick. Given that Dallas had decided to give Chad Johnson a game in which to earn John Scott All-Star votes, there’s really no harm taking Honka out to try to put one over on the horrible, cruel hockey gods.
Kari Lehtonen made amazing saves on Backlund and Gaudreau, at least two apiece of the “defense optional” variety. Kari was begging Dallas to get a point out of this game, but Dallas responds better to low expectations and high altitude these days, so no dice. The crowd probably is to blame for resurrecting the “Kari, Kari, Kari” chant. That just makes the skaters grumpy and sulky because you are not chanting their names each time they make great line changes. Way to lose the game, crowd people.
Jordie Benn continues to play solidly at even-strength, but at the tail end (actually right after the end) of a power play, the Quarterback of the Second Unit—I will ever continue to ask why Esa Lindell doesn’t get a look on the power play after crushing it for the past while in Cedar Park—tried a QB sneak followed by a pass, but Radek Faksa was running a slant instead of a post route in order to stay onside. Jordie’s pass went to the bad guys, and Kari then said something less-than-complimentary about his team as Gaudreau bore down on him for the 42nd time in the period. This time, Johnny brought a friend. Kari did not, because his friends were all on the other side of the ice. They may not still be his friends, but then again, Kari is a nice guy, so I bet he forgave them. That is the most important thing tonight, is friendship. What else do we have if not friendship?
I don’t care about the hodgepodge of review frivolity that this game saw, to be frank. The goals that were disallowed were properly revoked, and the Stars could only manage a single post as they put the gas down. (And that shot, of course, came from Eaves, who is apparently the Stars’ only top-six forward allowed to shoot at even-strength).
That second Flames goal (not the revoked one that ticked off McKenzie, but the actual one that looked ugly) was, well, bad. The Stars botched holding the line, and then Kari tried a sweeping poke check on a Gaudreau feed to Sean Monahan, who somehow walked past Defensive Zone Cody Eakin to get a stick on the puck and put it past Kari, who was out of sorts after trying to play defense himself. At least someone in the defensive zone tried to play defense.
John Klingberg had some nice moments tonight, but he also got taken advantage of a couple times. I am okay with high-risk Klingberg if it means he’s confident and shooting, and that was mostly what we had tonight. Unfortunately, pretty much none of the forwards who usually play with Klingberg are allowed to score goals anymore, so the Goal Events during his shifts are rarely positive.
You want someone to blame to satisfy your sports bloodlust. For such a grisly plea for sacrifice, I will continue to blame The Offense, both because it was supposed to be the team’s strength—and thus, is most damaging in its absence—and because The Offense is nowhere to be found, thus saving it from your unsavory sports bloodlust. I can’t save this game, but I can at least shelter some things from your worse inclinations.
Jason Dickinson watched that game in person, I believe. If you were Jason Dickinson, what would you do the next time you are on the ice with the Dallas Stars, given what they are doing on the ice right now?