After a stinker of a home opener, the Dallas Stars looked Saturday night to regain some glory on the road. Unfortunately, this did not seem to be an achievable goal for this defense.
Divisional away games were not a strong part of the club’s game last season. As Bob Sturm pointed out in the pre-game show, in 15 divisional away games in the 2016-17 season, the Stars pulled 7 points. Definitely something they need to improve upon this season.
Zone exits and puck watching were the Achilles’ heel of the Stars in the first period, which they actually managed to dominate in play. Shots were 6 to 1 prior to St. Louis’s first goal, which came off a turn over as the Stars tried to exit the zone. Carl Gunnarsson banked the shot off the skate of Dan Hamhuis.
The second goal came off a lengthy amount of defensive zone time for the Stars, who just couldn’t seem to keep up with the Blues. After two good scoring chances for the Blues, four Stars chased Jaden Schwartz (and the puck) into the corner and left the right side completely open for Joel Edmundson.
Schwartz got a goal of his own when he was left alone in front of the net. Hamhuis had gone to the top of the zone chasing the puck, Stephen Johns was on the far side, and Jamie Benn didn’t read where the puck was actually going.
A late point blank shot by Benn was stonewalled by Jake Allen, and the Stars went into first intermission down 3-0 to the Blues.
Thankfully, the second period was not a repeat of the first, though it did not end with a different score. The Stars held the Blues to their three goals by simply not letting them shoot the puck (much). The Stars have one goal on 74 shots. Part of the problem is where their shooting, both placement on the ice and placement of the shots.
Former DBD contributor Brad Gardner had an excellent point on twitter that I’m going to share here:
Im just wondering when this great roster of supposedly special players is going to stop stockpiling 47 ft wristers and calling it possession— Brad Gardner (@bradgardnerDBD) October 8, 2017
Born out by Micah Blake McCurdy’s shot location chart:
This is even strength only, so doesn’t include Klingberg’s goal.
Part of the problem too is not creating second chances, though even with some of those in the second, Allen stood firm.
Statistics tells us this can’t last. Something has to break. Someone has to score. Maybe in the third?
Yes, yes we did score in the third. Too little, too late, but we did score. The first Dallas goal came from John Klingberg on the power play. And, true to Brad’s tweet, it was from the top of the zone through traffic. Allen had both Benn and Seguin screening and it actually looked at first like it was a tip from Seguin that beat Allen.
Unfortunately for the Stars, the Blues were not done scoring yet, and a questionable call to Brett Ritchie in the third led to a power play goal from Vladimir Tarasenko. The Stars again trailed by three.
Jason Spezza, pleased to have Mattias Janmark back on his wing, fed him the puck late in the third to bring the Stars back within two. Sadly, that is where it ended.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, Stars fans. Hey, they scored. It wasn’t a shutout. They did outshoot the Blues, so it wasn’t exactly a lack of effort. A lack of rushing the net though, yes.
But onwards and upwards, this is only game two.