Colton Sceviour's wait-stop-it's-a-goal-everyone might be the perfect encapsulation of this game. The Stars looked like they were going to end up being the better team, then they took a step back and you hung your head, and then all of a sudden everything was okay, until the too-close-for-comfort goal Winnipeg scored with the extra attacker on the ice, but then Jamie Benn made everything finally okay, and it was time to go.
Posts were everywhere this game. I counted at least six, and I'm open to having missed some. Winnipeg could have scored another three or four goals without doing anything other than aiming an inch better, but the Stars likewise could have added another couple of tallies if Radek Faksa had been a bit more fortunate.
It's getting to the point where I might have to stage a hunger strike if Faksa is scratched in favor of Travis Moen. Faksa's being stopped on his accidental breakaway notwithstanding, he drew two penalties in the first period, he was out there to close out the game with Benn and Seguin, and the fourth line just has a much more secure feeling to it when he's out there. He and his linemates were roughly even in possession, and they scored a goal. I am not the coach of this team.
Spezza's power play goal was a bit fortuitous as well, but he still put it where he had to, while Byfuglien made sure he was not where that spot was. Is Jason Spezza a good luck charm for the power play? I am not going to answer that question, because I think we all know the answer.
Patrick Sharp finally broke out of a slump with his laboriously called goal against Boston, but I can't imagine he feels all that much relief playing on the third line. They were given a defensive responsibility in Winnipeg, and if that's what we can expect to see in mid-April, I'm not sure how comfortable I feel about that. Chances were minimized, but they weren't able to do much more than survive while out there That's not a sustainable recipe for success.
Dustin Byfuglien is still a beast, as his shorthanded assist to Ladd showed. As much as Winnipeg is going to be paying him in his thirties, it's hard not to be a bit jealous. That's perhaps the best-case scenario for what Derian Hatcher could be in this league today, and it's a fearsome thing indeed.
You had to love the players' reactions when the buzzer sounded to kill play after what we discovered to be Colton Sceviour's goal. There was a bit of that wry "come on, that buzzer guy has one job" in their posture, if I'm reading it correctly. My favorite thing about that sequence is trying to imagine what Sceviour must have been thinking in the interim. "Man, I swear I put that under the bar, but that's what I've been saying the past 15 games, so I dunno...I guess just keep skating? Seriously, what sort of ancient burial ground is this place built on?"
Anyway, I'm really sad they did blow it dead, because you just know that Winnipeg was bound to score before the next whistle, at which point the officials would have had the joy of explaining to Winnipeg why their goal has to be disappeared and a Dallas goal awarded. I think we can all agree that would have been the best outcome.
When it comes to snapping scoring droughts, we can't forget Valeri Nichushkin, who apparently has been listening to tapes of Razor's "elevate/accumulate" mantra as he goes to sleep every night. That was a beautiful goal for Nuke, and whatever you think about the extremely thin rumblings going around as the deadline approaches, there's one seriously talented hockey player wearing #43. When that talent gets displayed, it's as beautiful as anything the Stars can put on the ice. Big man, quick hands.
The flow of this game was stuttered, but the Jets were a dazed fighter who got some incisive punches in when the heavyweight let his guard down. The Stars got a fortunate power play goal right off the bat, but they paid for a lackadaisical effort later on with a shorthanded goal that would have happened sooner if not for John Klingberg's latest last-man-back heroics. I'm not sure how good a thing it is that Klingberg's been able to break up sure-fire goals lately, since it kind of necessitates the chance being allowed in the first place; still, he's the Stars' best defenseman, and he's second in the league in defensemen scoring. That's just fine. He racked up three assists, including one on the game-winner (on the Stars' final power play no less).
And when it comes to power plays, have you ever seen a worse attempt at entering the zone and setting up a 5-on-3 than Winnipeg offered? Razor excoriated them for dumping the puck in, and I can't say he was wrong to do so. That was embarrassing, and there's no other way to put it.
Another odd thing about this game was Jamie Benn, who looked off for the first period or two before waking up for two crucial goals late. The broadcast pointed out that he took an awkward hit early, and that his skating seemed to be a tick labored on a rush chance after that. Maybe it's the hips still barking, or maybe it was just a consequence of being 61 games into a professional hockey season in the Central Division. Either way, we are talking about a 32-goal scorer trailing only Ovechkin and some guy from Illinois. Ain't nothing gonna stop Jamie Benn if'n he sets his mind to it, right?
Seeing the crowd's reaction to Andrew Ladd (who almost had a downright heroic goal clank off the post in the dying minutes) tonight gave me flashbacks to Brenden Morrow. That is, it made me realize how oddly that era ended. Morrow was a very similar figure for his decade-plus in Dallas as Ladd has been for Winnipeg over the past five years or so. In that sense, I am sort of okay with throwing the fans a bone on that Ladd shorthanded goal. Something to remember and all that, right? Also, it's weird to remember what it was like to be a franchise with no hope of the playoffs, watching as your team is picked over for spare parts in anticipation of the stretch run that you won't be concerned about.
2012-2013 was a weird season, for a lot of reasons.
Anyway, the bottom line about this game is probably "be happy for two points," because I can't see a whole ton else to be thrilled about. The Superline (I'm going to stop trying to make "Basket Line" happen; it's not going to happen) did its thing, and that's what they should do, but when your team only generates four high-quality scoring chances at even strength, you probably aren't exactly shelling your opponent. If history is any indication, the 14-91-90 experiment won't last much longer, having served its purpose in bringing home a win. But again, I am not the coach, so who even knows? If they trade for Staal, then all bets are off. That is not an incredibly likely occurrence.
Still, road wins against division opponents (or just "opponents," since the Jets are irrelevant as anything more than that at this point) are good. We'll see how Dallas handles these same Jets (or perhaps a weakened version of them) in the AAC shortly, so I'll wait to draw any huge conclusions until then, because that is the responsible and patient thing to do. The Stars are back atop the entire Western Conference with a game in hand. I may have buried the lede here.