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Game 42 Afterwords: Stars Apparently Spent All Their Goal Money in Los Angeles

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Okay, which one of you said, “Well, it can’t get any worse!” at some point last week?

NHL: Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I can’t give you many salient details that David didn’t already thoroughly cover in the recap, but let’s see if we can at least meander around the edges of this giant crater of doldrums and doom that masqueraded as a hockey game.

For the record, that would not be the same crater of horrible ice that appeared to be sitting by the far half-wall for much of this game. Maybe it was just confirmation bias, but it seemed uncanny how many pucks were falling off sticks of both teams on that side of the ice tonight. Hey, I wonder if Honda Center has really great ice for hockey? Probably it does. (And hey, at least it’s better than the United Center’s.)

First, let us celebrate that Corey Perry’s best efforts to unwittingly (the only way in which Perry does anything) to harm Patrick Eaves were unsuccessful in the long-term, as Eaves is going to be okay per Lindy Ruff, postgame.

Of course, Jamie Oleksiak was not so fortunate, which is just about right for this season. I believe Ruff is saying something akin to 2-4 weeks here, but I am guessing from experience. You have to feel bad for Oleksiak regardless, who has only caught the very worst sort of breaks this season, his goal-scoring explosion notwithstanding.

FORTUNE: Oh, is one of your players sort of taking advantage of an opportunity for more ice time? It would be a pity if something happened to them.

Dallas was tired tonight, and they played like it. In the second period—the one with the long change—Anaheim generated 21 scoring chances to Dallas’s five, and yet Dallas still had themselves a hockey game for the taking if only they could find a way to outfox the Ducks sans Ryan Getzlaf for a single goal. Dallas did not score a single goal.

Antti Niemi was fantastic, because he largely has been at even strength, but oh yeah, that’s right, the Stars’ petition to have all games played at 5v5 for 60 minutes has still not been heard by the Board of Governors for some reason. That meant that Dallas’s decision to put the Ducks on the job four times had the unexpected result of “only” a single goal against. You might be upset at the rebound goal, but given Dallas’s recent 3-for-11 string of penalties “killed”—as though one can every kill the undead monster that pervades one’s dreams—going 3-for-4 is like winning the lottery. Or maybe Russian Roulette is the better comparison these days, given that Anaheim was like 0-for-16 on the job coming into the game. The only thing Dallas can keep healthy this season is the other team’s power play.

I’m through dissecting the power play for now. Once again, it’s been covered recently, and besides that, this is a team that has lost four of its last five games and managed to look absolutely inscrutable even when they were scoring six goals on Monday. Jamie Benn may return soon, but unless he had the team’s mechanics replace the whole chassis while they were in there doing some ankle work to begin with, there’s likely not going to be an Art Ross level of production coming back with him.

(Side note: I’m no Sherlock, but Nick Ritchie is obviously just a kid on his first day of space camp who got confused for Brett Ritchie’s brother and was handed a hockey uniform, right?)

Well, let’s see. Tyler Seguin couldn’t beat John Gibson on a prime scoring chance, but then, neither could anyone else. Antoine Roussel was out of gas at the end of the 3rd, and was unable to catch up to Andrew “I shot the puck a million times tonight” Cogliano for the second goal. Adam Cracknell spent 40 seconds more on the penalty kill than did PK-specialist Lauri Korpikoski, so I guess that’s something? Assistant Equipment Manager Dennis Soetaert manned his 1,000th NHL game with the Stars tonight, so that is something to be happy about.

It’s odd, when you think about it. After a bit of groaning from a lot of fans about Stephen Johns’s being scratched lately, he now looks like a lock in the lineup for the next few games. I’d guess Oleksiak will hit IR when Jamie Benn comes back, so that means Dallas won’t have to send anyone down to the AHL for now.

JIM NILL pokes his head out of side of computer screen: “WHAT’D I TELL YA ABOUT NEEDING THAT DEPTH ON DEFENSE, EH?”

Ryan Kesler was doing his best to make people not like him tonight, and while he was called for two penalties, it seems like he could have gotten a couple more as well. Tyler Seguin also kind of boarded Sami Vatanen, so I guess this was a clear-cut “winners club” sort of game-calling tonight. But again, given how much effort it took the Stars just to get through their own power plays without surrendering a goal, I’m not sure more special teams was the answer for Dallas tonight. Playing with five defensemen and 11 forwards for the latter part of this one just exacerbated the team’s fatigue, and my goodness, I miss Jason Spezza making us all very happy every now and then.

And once again, Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel got markedly more minutes than Seguin and Spezza. I know the team is trying to manage the mid-thirties Spezza’s minutes a bit, but I’m baffled as to how minutes are being given these days. The cynical part of me suspects that the grinders (Faksa was 2nd in ice time in between 21 and 20) just exhibited more “try” and “compete level,” and thus earned more minutes. Then the rational part chimes in to say that the Ducks were pasting the Stars in possession and faceoffs all night long, so maybe Dallas just didn’t have as much opportunity to deploy their “skill” lines. That may be so. But still, I’m not sure a world in which Dallas isn’t being led by John Klingberg, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin is one where good things are going to happen for the Stars. Certainly the world has not been good for Dallas in their last five games.

We are officially in the second half of the season, and it is starting out just like the first half did: by only allowing two goals to the Ducks despite being outplayed pretty significantly. But unfortunately for the Stars, it really isn’t the other team’s goal-scoring that has been the problem this season, and it wasn’t the other team’s goal-scoring that was the problem tonight, either. It’s okay. There are still 80 70 50 40 games left in the season, and I am sure the Stars will suddenly stop being not so great before too long.