Thursday night’s tilt against the New York Islanders could, in some circles, be called a victory. Those circles would be those worried about the Stars’ penalty kill this season (they went 7 for 7 this game). That might be the only circle though.
1. This was a little embarrassing
I’m not going to embed gifs of all the goals, although the breakaway given to John Tavares on the second goal of the night was almost as embarrassing. This goal though.
You never want to see your top defensive pairing get walked quite like this, and yet here we are. Esa Lindell and John Klingberg have been paired since December, and I know I’ve said this before, but the stability has been good for Klingberg’s game. It’s becoming increasingly clearer that he’s massively carrying the pairing though.
At 5v5, Lindell ended the night at -22 in corsi +/-, and Klingberg at +5. Lindell has, at times, been good in his own end, but frequently has trouble clearing the puck from the Stars zone, choosing to flip it into neutral ice for an immediate turnover rather than go for a controlled exit. This is clear in his corsi +/- but also pretty flipping obvious if all you’re doing is watching the games. And so, therefore, I am still advocating giving Lindell some time in the press box, or even back down in Cedar Park, to spend some more time working on his game.
2. Surprise! Our 5v5 game wasn’t actually a nightmare
This parade to the penalty box has to stop. Stars actually look dangerous when they can play at even strength for a bit.— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) January 20, 2017
Our special teams, despite the fact that we didn’t get scored on while shorthanded, remain something of a disaster. We did, in fact, get scored on while we had the man advantage, after all.
A note on our power play: we’re currently running at 17.1%, which is good for 19th in the league. Middle of the road, right? After last night’s game, we’ve allowed eight short handed goals against. While the Dallas Stars are on the power play, they’ve allowed the opposition to score eight times. That might not seem like an especially large number, but you know what that’s good for? Last in the league. Or best, if you want to put a positive spin on it. We are the best at giving up short handed goals against.
But! Our 5v5 play was not actually the disaster it looked like in the shot count. I mean, it wasn’t amazing, but we ended the night positive in the corsi events for category at 5v5 play. We just couldn’t stay out of the penalty box.
3. Invasion of the body snatchers
The real Jamie Benn doesn't miss that empty net by a foot in a million billion years.— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) January 20, 2017
Manchurian Candidate, Cocoon, I’ll take any number of explanations for why Jamie Benn isn’t playing like Jamie Benn this season. The wide open net Robert’s referring to here is the one at the end of the second period, when Tyler Seguin got a perfect pass off to Jamie and he missed by what might as well have been a mile. Speculation on Jamie Benn’s game this season continues.
4. I don’t even feel bad for choosing my own tweet
Lehtonen's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.— AnnMerrinAnnMerrinAn (@merrinish) January 20, 2017
Because I have a point that I want to make about Dallas Stars’ goaltending. I’ve talked before in these tweet posts about xG, or expected goals for, a stat coined by Emmanuel Perry at corsica.hockey.
On the penalty kill, if you look at the correlation between the Stars xG and corsi against related to the save percentage of our goalies, Antti Niemi has a predictable relationship. His save percentage gets worse with higher xG and corsi against. Kari Lehtonen? Not predictable. His track record plays more to the “anything goes” route.
What does that mean? It means that on any given night, the rest of the team on the ice has no idea which Lehtonen they’re getting. The one who stood on his head last night to keep his team in a game despite the fact that they gave up seven power play opportunities.
We’ve been saying all along this season that it’s not the goaltending and that’s still true at 5v5. We even said it wasn’t the problem on special teams, and that’s still true for Niemi. Lehtonen, though, might be a problem moving forward.
5. This could be announced by noon
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Roussel should be suspended for 1 game for instigating in final 5 minutes, right?— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) January 20, 2017
And I’ll try to change the post if it is, but Antoine Roussel’s fight off the face off at the end of the game could come with some consequences. Inciting in the final five minutes is an automatic one game suspension. It’s listed as “roughing” on the game sheet at this point in time, so we’ll wait and see.
For those who are going to ask: the last time this rule was enforced was Max Domi in the 2015-16 season.
6. He’s not wrong
The fact that we keep praising the goalies for keeping games to 3-0 should probably be more alarming to people— Josh Lile (@JoshL1220) January 20, 2017
Thus is the life of a Stars fan though. It used to be that we could outscore our problems. I said on multiple occasions last year that as long as the Stars could keep it to three goals against we could still win any game. That’s not true this year, since (despite the scoring last game), our offense isn’t as reliable.