You're gonna hear this a lot. How getting three points out of four against the top teams in the Central while remaining in 1st is great, and functionally ideal.
I get it. But I feel too much like the neg head downer personified plane of existence Robert put on trial in his wonderfully literate Game 70 breakdown. Dallas deserved four points. If only the zebras and Dallas' goaltending hex of a historical system weren't standing directly in everyone else's way.
1. Three Dog Fight
xG Projections - West Playoff Projections pic.twitter.com/VbVW7KDBQO— DTM About Heart (@DTMAboutHeart) March 12, 2016
One is definitely not the loneliest number in the Central Division. Chicago has a game in hand on both teams, so even a three point cushion over Chicago barely qualifies as a "lead". Of Dallas' 12 remaining games, 10 are against teams currently in the playoffs (well, 9 if you ignore Colorado who just lost their wild card spot to Minnesota, which Dallas should never do), and even their "reprieve" is a pair of bouts against the Arizona Coyotes, who won't exactly lay down and die for them.
2. Forehand to Thwackhand
Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 13, 2016
It was an excellent first period for Dallas. They were being physical, getting chances, though they also gave up some chances. Cody Eakin would answer the bell with a deft backhander (what should be his go-to move from now on) after Trow Brouwer opened up the scoring. The lines from Friday remained the same, with Jamie Benn saddled with Cody Eakin and Patrick Eaves. I get it. Benn and Eakin have chemistry when they're short handed. Perhaps that can translate to even strength. But it hasn't. They got whooped by the Terrorsenko, Schwartz, and Lehtera line. Just saying.
3. Deja Boo
When the goal stood despite Kari Lehtonen getting interfered with against Chicago, Razor threw his arms up in the arm and said "I give up". I'll do likewise. Or maybe I'll go one further like Dennis Wideman and just call it like it is. What exactly are the refs seeing, here? All I see is Upshall trying to take Radek Faksa's head with him so that he can put it next to his Billy, Blain, Mac, and Dillon collection.
4. Leaks and Valleys
The Stars have 29 shots halfway through the game. They also have Antti Niemi in net. Pretty much anything is possible with this team.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 13, 2016
The second period was fairly wild. The Blues would strike second, then Jason Spezza would answer. Then St. Louis would dominate 4 on 4, and so would Puck Andy Kaufman who dropped the mic on the Dallas Stars to give them a 4-2 lead. Antti Niemi is the goaltender I've favored throughout the season. So has Dallas. But Kari Lehtonen is simply paying better than him right now. Niemi made some really good saves in the game. But what good are they if something less dangerous goes in? Goaltending is a game of how much, not how. It was a disappointing game for Niemi amidst some great performances on both sides.
5. Man of the Match
On the flipside, Allen kept the Blues in the game in the first period when Dallas poured it on. He stopped several breakaways (including one from Kris Russell!), and stayed sharp throughout the game regardless of the period or time. The Blues' defense is, I might argue, somewhat overrated if their scoring chances against per 60 compared to the league average is any indication, so getting good goaltending is critical to making the Blues such a strong team. Needless to say, getting 1st in the Central will be absolutely critical to actual playoff success.
6. So You're Saying There's a Chance?
There is no better offense in the league than Dallas. They can overcome bad goaltending, but it's hard. pic.twitter.com/9Yuy0b8zAW— Carolyn Wilke (@Classlicity) March 12, 2016
The 'Bakin' duo didn't offer much flavor in OT. Though they didn't have anything to do with Dallas' failings. I'm just curious why Eakin is out there in OT as opposed to Seguin and Benn. Or, if you're really wanting to ride the hot hand as happened against Montreal when Eakin and Ales Hemsky did all the even strength scoring prior to OT, why not Spezza and Seguin? On to some stray observations...
- It was admittedly fun having Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Travis Moen, Stephen Johns, Brett Ritchie, and Radek Faksa out there against the chest puffing Blues. I'd rather just have a superior lineup (Nemeth looked every bit his team worst -15 shot differential), granted. But it was worth it in spots. Especially Ritchie's hit on Jay Bouwmeester. It wasn't as savage on replay, but I'm sure Bouwmeester was seeing Byfuglien after that.
- Stephen Johns ate some plus minuses, but since +/- is for the illiterate, I'd rather judge him by his shot differential, which was 5th on the team at even strength. He played a pretty steady game. Still some mistakes here and there, but he looks a lot like he did in Cedar Park; scrambly at first, but comfortable over time.
- The Spezzanaissance cannot be understated; not onlyis his goal scoring streak alive and well, but he's getting his chances too. He was credited with 7 individual shot attempts, 6 scoring chances, and 4 individual high danger scoring area chances. The 2nd line has been solved. As for the 1st line, give me Jamie Benn-Radek Faksa-Patrick Sharp, or give me death. Or maybe just a won bet. Death sounds kind of harsh now that I think about it.