The Dallas Stars found themselves in a somewhat boring affair against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Which is fine. If you're a fight fan, you had your fill of exciting, pulse pounding action at UFC 196 anyway.
More than that, without John Klingberg, their run and gun style doesn't pay the same dividends. The playoffs are sneaking up on Dallas, so playing the slow game might be something they should get used to.
1. King Karl
Karlsson playing the entire 2 minutes of every power play is something I am not sure I have ever seen as a regular habit from a Dman. Wow.— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) March 6, 2016
Erik Karlsson is probably the best defensemen on Earth for a reason. I never understood the comparisons to Klingberg. Karlsson has speed Klingberg can't even touch (no offense). Don't get my wrong. Klingberg is awesome in his own way, but they're polar opposites unless your comparison begins and ends with "moves the puck". Karlsson single handedly drives the Senators. Even if Ottawa's destination is a golf course.
2. Fair Weather Familiars
Like a cat waiting to pounce. pic.twitter.com/fssIMj4fJx— LJ (@splendourella) March 6, 2016
The biggest story of the game, and a story that may inspire a few hot takes, is the play of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. I don't think there's a narrative beyond 'possibly injured', and 'unlucky'. But the fact remains that they're slumping. The weirdest part about this game was how dramatic the slumpage was, however. Benn wound up making several very errant passes. And by 'errant', I mean inconceivable[/Vizzini].
3. From Zags to Britches
Spezza goal pic.twitter.com/GoO8qw1Rxn— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 6, 2016
After Benn's gaffe led to another gaffe which resulted in an Ottawa goal, Jason Spezza would score on this shot to complete his assault on all 30 NHL teams. Brett Ritchie ended up getting the 'Medusa the goaltender' assist. Jason Spezza continues his recent run, and I continue my recent adulation of all things Spezza. Spezza is a bit like Joe Thornton in that his vision can only be blinded by a proton pack.
4. Art Dross
The 1st line with Spezza has looked good but the Stars have to start getting something out of Benn and Seguin on the 2nd.— Brad Gardner (@bradgardnerDBD) March 7, 2016
What's helping Spezza out is that a) he's a puck genius in his own right and b) he's got young legs on both wings in Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin. Nichushkin in particular has really picked up his game lately. That's the bizarre part of this rut that Dallas is still technically in. Janmark-Spezza-Nichushkin feel like the most dynamic offensive line for Dallas right now. I'm actually kind of ok with that. Best to get negative variance out of the way now, as opposed to April.
5. French Flagellation
Antoine Roussel is tied for third in the NHL in game-winning goals.— Jordan Dix (@jordan_dix) March 7, 2016
When all is said and done, Roussel may end up with his number in the rafters. Well, I doubt it. But his play lately has been a graceful display of puck pugilism. I actually like Ales Hemsky on that line. He works in a very counterintuitive way; his ability to lone ranger his way up ice kind of helps conceal Roussel and Eakin's defensive limitations. Where Ryan Garbutt helped amplify the line's one way puck pursuit, Hemsky keeps the pitbull hive mind disconnected in a useful way.
6. Snooze No Lose
Definitely not what anyone expected, except the part where Jamie Benn got smashed on the possession chart. Nonetheless, Dallas is now the 3rd quickest team to reach 40 wins. So the team is obviously doing something right. On to some stray observations:
- Kris Russell continues to be a steady presence on the blueline. I'm wondering when the skate shoe will drop, but he does a good job of wiring the puck onto the net, and as the microstats predicted, exiting the zone with possession. I know the analytics crowd shun the idea that microstats can be predictive, but I do think they help explain how players can improve under different systems. If you can change the profile of being Type II diabetes, why can't you change your WARRIOR chart?
- It's great to see Radek Faksa on the list of positive possession players. I will continue to root for this kid, and I have a sneaking suspicion he'll be an important part of the playoff picture should Dallas have success.
- Speaking of, I'd sooner "demote" Benn, and stick him on a line with Faksa and Brett Ritchie so that they could Hanson Brothers their way through opponents than watch Benn and Seguin continue getting stuck in the opponent's zone with overaggressive positioning.
- Are Jason Demers and Johnny Oduya still struggling? I couldn't tell, and now that I think about it, I don't even remember them. Improvement, I guess.