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Still Better Than It Started: 6 Easy Tweets

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The Dallas Stars were unable to dig themselves out of the hole dug in the first period. Again.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Dallas Stars have an abysmal first period. Pretty familiar by this point in the season, eh? Thankfully, our story doesn’t actually end at a 4-1 loss. No, we actually managed to tie it late in the third with four unanswered goals, one of them a power play goal, and some very successful (finally) penalty killing.

What we couldn’t do was win, or even hold it even for the overtime point. Instead, the Stars wasted a 4-0 rally on a regulation loss on home ice against division rivals. And so goes the season.

So let’s tweet about it.

1. 20 minutes late with Starbucks

Take a look at the box score sheet and you will see that Antti Niemi had exactly four minutes and one second of playing time last night, during which he let in three goals on two shots. If you didn’t watch the game, you’re probably asking how that happens.

I can’t recommend doing this, but if you watch the replay of the first goal, you’ll see it’s actually shoveled into the net by Johnny Oduya, trying to close the scoring lane. Instead, he swept the puck right past Niemi for the Wild’s first goal. Own goals don’t count as shots, so there you go. His save percentage from last night is actually negative, but since they don’t actually record percentages that way on NHL.com, it just ends up as a 0.00%.

Kari Lehtonen, despite the fact that he did let two goals get past him, actually had a solid performance otherwise, and it’s really a shame that it was wasted in the final minutes of the game.

2. When your special teams are actually special

The Stars finished the night perfect on the penalty kill, which is a new and exciting place for them to be, and one for three on the power play, which is still an exciting place for them to be.

Although it seems to be more magic and voodoo than any changes they’ve made to the system, as the Wild got a couple of shorthanded breakaway chances. Lehtonen had some big stops to keep that part of the evening perfect.

3. Shore thing

Given the press box shuffling and the frankly insane number of injuries the Stars have faced this season, there are only a handful of players who have played every single game. One of those players? Rookie forward Devin Shore.

The graph on the right from Carolyn Wilke shows Shore’s improvement over the season. If you aren’t familiar with xG, it’s a stat devised by Emmanuel Perry (@mannyelk) to measure a player’s expected goals. If you’re inclined, you can read more about that on his website. Safe to say, Devin Shore has improved over the season in all the right ways, and is currently at 18 points in 44 games, which is pretty decent for a rookie playing on the third and fourth lines.

The chart on the left is ranking bottom line players by primary points (goals and primary assists). Shore currently ranks 18.

And yes, I say all of this despite the fact that he took a dumb penalty when Patrick Eaves was already in the box, giving the Wild over a minute of 5-on-3. I know what I’m about.

4. There were complaints last time when I said Klingbae

John Klingberg seems to be getting his game back. As the tweet says, the five goals since Christmas are the most from any defenseman. Not to mention that the goal this game was the power play goal that we’ve been missing so many other games.

But let’s take a moment to talk about Esa Lindell. Klingberg has been paired with Lindell since before Christmas, and while it’s given Klingberg the stability to get his game back, the zone entries and exits from the pair leave a lot to be desired, Lindell especially.

More from Carolyn:

In the same thread, she points out that Patrik Nemeth is at 70% controlled exits. So what I’m saying is, it might be time to give Nemeth another shot.

5. #HighEventHockey

Here’s the funny thing about the #higheventhockey hashtag: it’s not normally the way it goes against Minnesota. If I have to give Minnesota grudging respect in one aspect of their game, it’s that they actually are very good at shutting down the Stars offense. We don’t normally get high corsi events against Minnesota, because while Minnesota is great at shutting down offense, their own offense is historically not excellent at creating their own chances.

And yet, last night was a wild, loosy goosy game that saw the Wild get four goals in the first four minutes, and the Stars get four back. The fact that the Wild let the game get away from them in play style, the fact that in periods two and three they were chasing the Stars instead of the other way around, definitely served more to the Stars’ style and is the reason they were able to score four at all.

6. This number will be unpopular

Every point matters, especially in the second half of this season. There’s not a lot to belabor here, and I’m not going to pull the sadness graph again, but I could. I don’t know what I want out of the rest of the season, but I would like to start being happier about watching the games.