The Dallas Stars could theoretically force a game 7 in their home but it's gonna take a ton of the same puck luck St. Louis received for Game 5.
I don't think it was a bad game for Dallas overall. But there were enough fumbling parts to tilt the ice in the Blues' favor in the end. And now Dallas will return to St. Louis where the "ice is great" (apparently).
1. Klingberg's Wing Man
GOALigoski pic.twitter.com/0WBIu9XaFN— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) May 7, 2016
St. Louis would open up the scoring after Dallas' 4th line couldn't deal with the transition and Robby Fabbri threw a puck at the net that banked off Brett Ritchie's skate. As is customary, the opposing team would answer right back. This time some good work by Vernon Fiddler and Jason Spezza would lead to a goal from Alex Goligoski. Both teams began evenly matched, and ended evenly matched. The difference was in the breaks.
2. Black and Blues
Johns brought his own style to first period pace. Running around trying to hit everything, credited with game-high 3 hits so far.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) May 7, 2016
With a whole half a period tied at one, neither team exchanged much. Johns was his usual physical self. Dallas got the best of the chances overall, but they just couldn't convert. Cody Eakin in particular seemed pumped up after scoring the Overtime winner, but like Patrik Nemeth's Calder Cup winning goal, all of that goal scoring juju was swallowed up that night. He was getting some great chances, and seemed to be taking advantage of St. Louis keying in on Benn and Sharp, but it was a stark reminder of why Cody Eakin is and will never be a "1C".
Dmitri Jaskin didn't play in Blues' first 11 playoff games. Scores go-ahead goal to make it 2-1 here...— Tim Cowlishaw (@TimCowlishaw) May 7, 2016
I tweeted the amusing statistical anomaly that is the Travis Moen, Vernon Fiddler, Brett Ritchie line from last season, who collectively posted a 69 Percent Corsi For with 28 minutes of ice time together. But I started by saying "not to defend playing Travis Moen" for precisely this reason; every bounce counts in the playoffs, and when your 4th line is not a complete bust, depth becomes a true asset. Dmitri Jaskin got inserted into the lineup and had an immediate impact. These are the things you have the potential to do when your 4th line doesn't spend the majority of the night sipping coffee.
4. Point Flake
Hitch on Brouwer goal: "Well, he’s on the beach, and there’s the ocean. It’s just got to go in. You just can’t miss it from that much sand."— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) May 7, 2016
Players under 30 heading toward their contract year tend to overachieve. You wouldn't know this from Jason Demers and Kris Russell's recent string of gaffes, both intentional and unintentional. Once again the pair seemed to spend more time on their bellies in their own zone than on their skates. Are both nursing potential (or lingering in Jason's case) injuries? I don't know. The only reason I suspect Demers might be is because he suffered an upper body injury and isn't near as strong on his passes exiting the zone as he used to be (which has led to turnovers). But who knows. What I do know is that your defensemen shouldn't look like beached loch ness monsters.
5. Don't Call it a Glum Back
Please watch your step pic.twitter.com/VNQ5AtMmwY— Deadspin (@Deadspin) May 7, 2016
The third period rolled around and Dallas played a pretty spirited game. It was clear that it would be that kind of game for Brian Elliot: the kind Dallas never gets, either in the NHL, or the AHL. That's not some subtle jab at Kari Lehtonen though. He played good. His 85.7 save percentage was a reflection of the play in front of him. But as they say in the analytics business, it's not how, it's how much. And across from Dallas was a goaltender who faced more shots, literally twice the amount of high danger chances, and still posted a 96.4 save percentage. As they say in the cliche business, them's the breaks.
6. We Miss You Seguin
Rigidity of requiring someone being a specific position (like a chess piece) should never outweigh fluid decision within structure— Gus Katsaros (@KatsHockey) May 7, 2016
Gus is probably my favorite hockey thinker. His point here about structure over systems is that hockey is too free flowing to define by positioning. And those fluid decisions were lost on some players despite what I felt was a good overall game for Dallas. I picked St. Louis to win in 6 because I felt Dallas just couldn't overcome Tyler Seguin's loss on a long enough timeline. Dallas is still very much in this. Their Corsi For as a team through five games against St Louis is 60 Percent. St. Louis is 55 Percent. So the idea that they've been "outplayed" seems mistaken. But eventually those shooting percentages will need to pick up, and pick up quickly.
- Okay. I've got a bone to pick with Dallas media. For several days, there's been a concerted effort to praise Travis Moen for his Stanley Cup experience, and veteran savvy. By a lot of writers I respect no less. Except Moen's presence has been a detriment. He's bottom 20 in the league in shot differential in the playoffs (just above Vernon Fiddler). His physical game is nullified by the fact that he's too slow to catch anyone. While Demers, Russell, and Ruff deserve flack for that Tarasenko goal with six players on the ice from game 4, it was Fiddler and Moen fumbling around an easy pass in the offensive zone that kickstarted the comedy of errors. On the Fabbri goal, they couldn't handle the phase shifting. As a human story, Moen is a worthwhile subject. As a justification for playing over Colton Sceviour (who has as many goals this playoff year than Moen has in his last six playoff years), or Valeri Nichushkin (who played phenomenal hockey this game and tied Ales Hemsky with the most individual shot attempts among any player among both teams with 6)? Nonsense.
- No, having Moen in the lineup won't singularly lose Dallas the series. But experience means nothing without efficiency. Just look at Radek Faksa. His trio somehow only allowed 4 shot attempts against (!) despite prime playing time. Fiddler's line allowed 8 despite 5 minutes of playing time. And yea, I'm probably in a worse mood than I should be over this.
- Usually I can't muster up many words to complain about officiating. No one is immune to perceptual blindness, and certainly not the most active referees in all of sports. But the non calls were aggravating. It wasn't until after missing an obvious high stick on Stephen Johns with his blood all over the ice that the refs finally decided to pry their whistles out of their esophagus. Dallas committed some penalties that went uncalled too. But it's the playoffs, so we do things differently around here in hockeyville because lord knows there's a huge problem with this sport in the regular season.
- Then again I didn't miss that Power Play. Oh well. There's still Monday. Hopefully Patrick Eaves is ready because he's another steady presence Dallas sorely needs.