Going into Game 5, the narrative was that there would be mistakes, but that this is all a "learning process". Mistakes will happen, but the team will be all the better for it. And so forth.
Except a learning process doesn't have to take 87 games. I agree with the sentiment of learning from your mistakes. but repeat them enough, and you begin to question the resolution stage. After all, what is that saying about how insanity is misquoting a historical figure over and over again while mocking the active definition of insanity?
1. Whipping Decoy
Of the 34 Stanley Cup Playoff games so far...Visiting teams have won 19...Only Washington, Tampa, Dallas have yet to lose at home.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) April 22, 2016
Dallas would right away say 'up yours' to this trend with a play that I've seen maybe three people analyze correctly. First off, yes Alex Goligoski turns the puck over. It's not a good play, but it's not an awful one. For one, Stephen Johns isn't that good of an option. He has Koivu only a few feet in front of him. If Goose passes it to Johns, then Johns is locked up with Koivu. That's better than what ends up happening, but still. Second, Jamie Benn and Patrick Sharp are closest to Granlund when it happens, and they do literally nothing to attack Granlund while Antti Niemi is scrambling around to prevent the rebound. Stephen Johns doesn't do anything to recover either. So this is just an issue of everyone scrambling to fail to do their jobs. Rarely is a hockey breakdown monocausal. Goligoski wasn't Steve Mason letting in a center ice deflection. Dallas was.
2. Investment Watching
Goligoski took the brunt of the blame according to Lindy Ruff, and got a minute of a half of ice time in the first period. Then the Wild would go 2-0 just minutes into the first. It wasn't great defending by Johnny Oduya, but Antti Niemi should not have been doing his best Graboid impression either.
3. Radek Track'Em
Johnny Oduya has helped eliminate the Wild in each of the past 3 years. His slapshot gets Dallas on the board, trail 2-1— Bruce LeVine (@BruceLeVinePuck) April 23, 2016
Dallas would cut the lead in half by an aggressive John Klingberg play that transitioned into a smart Radek Faksa play which led to Johnny Oduya's goal from the point. Faksa's play here is one among a thousand reasons why he deserves to center Jamie Benn instead of Cody Eakin. Eakin would have tried to corral that puck and then shoot it into the blob of humanity in front of him. Faksa, realizing he didn't have enough control of the puck to make a quick play toward the net himself, quickly defers to someone with better vision from his position. Eakin wasn't bad tonight, so this isn't my hourly "get off my lawn!" segment with Cody. But the Benn-Eakin-Sharp line continue to be a line of parts rather than the sum.
4. El Nino
Minnesota's Niederreiter-Haula-Pominville line was held scoreless in the first two games. They have 12 combined points in three games since.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) April 23, 2016
Nino Niederreiter has been a serious thorn in Dallas' side since time immemorial it feels like. However, he's been doing a lot of 'cherrypicking' this series. The phrase typically has little meaning except to put scoring players on blast for doing scoring things, but here this feels like a set play. There are times when he's in the neutral zone waiting to burst up ice for an easy breakaway. John Klingberg gave him the opportunity (with the help of Goligoski inching down too low while Minnesota had possession; a play way more egregious than the thousand turnovers that happen to every player like the first goal against) and Niemi couldn't make a timely save.
5. O 'Captain, Not That Captain!
The third period was absolutely ridiculous in the best way possible. Everyone scored basically. Jason Spezza would tie it up. Then Alex Goligoski would partially redeem himself to go up. And then Mikko Koivu, with the help of Cody Eakin staring at him, would tie it all back up. If Dallas had won we would have sat back, roasted chestnuts by the open fire, and talk about how great hockey is. But it's the playoffs, Dallas lost, and so everyone's bummed out instead.
6. Fine. Game Six it is.
How does Dallas make a goalie salary disappear when it inevitably acquires Marc-Andre Fleury after Murray's Conn Smythe? #PredictionCity— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 23, 2016
I've been one of Niemi's defenders. I think hes been good for larger portions of this season. The decision to start him in game 5 was completely justified. But he had a bad game, flat out. The second goal and OT goal were just not the goals to give up. Dallas did a lot of work on their end to help his struggles, but that's what goalies get paid to do.
Greg's tweet cuts to the heart of Dallas' odd trend of opting for "veterenness" in goal. If Dallas somehow loses this series (and I think they win Sunday without issue), or the next, I hope watching kids like Radek Faksa, Stephen Johns, and Mattias Janmark gives them confidence in knowing that youth can be just as valuable as experience. They need some of that youth in goal too if they expect to go further than they project.