I almost just want to post this picture with a dismissive caption like “ppppthhhbth” and walk away, because it does a good job of showing how the Stars largely dominated play, but got submarined by bad penalties (in every sense) and absurd goaltending (in the positive sense) by Cory Schneider:
Sometimes, it’s smart just to shake your head and move on. The Stars are sticking with largely the same lineup tonight, so Ken Hitchcock seems to agree, although Jason Dickinson’s being sent back to the AHL, so the 13th forward is anyone’s guess right now.
If Stephen Johns doesn’t hit that post early in the game (and hoo boy, did he ever hit that post dead-on, clangariffic indeed), might this whole game have been different? Well, yeah, obviously. Goals change things, particularly early ones.
If the Stars stuff one of those Radulov chances on their 5v3 time (which was at least some nice reciprocation from the officials after the bad call on Klingberg), do they at least take this thing to overtime and get another crucial road point? I’d like to think so, yeah.
If Brett Ritchie doesn’t go full Ales Hemsky on his toe drag breakaway thing, does it start something for Ritchie? Well, we thought that after his two-goal outburst a while back, so I’m not sure. But it helps this game, that’s for sure.
I guess this isn’t revolutionary, saying that scoring goals would have helped the Stars, but a game is made up of a thousand different points of time, and the negative ones sure seemed to accrue at a disproportionate rate. This was the “it’s not fair!” game of games where you kind of agree that life isn’t fair, and so you take your lumps and move on. It’s nice having a back-to-back to wash this one away.
It hurts to lose games like this, though, where the Stars controlled the game so well. The Devils were opportunistic, as have been so many other teams this year against Dallas, and it’s getting old. The tight-fisted play is great when the Stars are defending a lead, but their inability to come back once they get down is continuously alarming.
If there’s anyone who doesn’t deserve blame for that game, though, it’s the Janmark-Spezza-Radulov line, which continues to dominate play. Yes, Spezza got beaten in the low slot for a scramble goal, but he was in the right spot, so that’s just something that happens, you know? It is easy to say that, I suppose.
You know that goal Brian Boyle scored off a perfect bounce between Lindell and Johns? The NHL equivalent of a fade route to your tallest receiver? That’s why Martin Hanzal is on the second power play (despite Radek Faksa seeming like a better candidate in terms of scoring ability). There’s something alluring about having a big fella and chucking the puck in his direction. Hanzal’s goal was pretty lucky, sure, but I have to think that sort of goal keeps NHL coaches warm at night. We all enjoy feeling like things have worked the way we want them to work.
Brian Boyle was mad at Klingberg for suggesting he had embellished cross checking penalty. Stars coach Ken Hitchcock didn't think it was a penalty and Klingberg said he told Boyle he was "100 pounds heavier than me. I think he fell easy there."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) December 16, 2017
Also, kudos to John Klingberg for giving the business to Brian Boyle, who sort of made a fool of himself tonight (outside of, you know, scoring two goals, getting the last laugh, and probably feeling 100% okay about everything) in getting all hot and bothered about Klingberg’s “hit,” comments and, I think, gentle massaging in front of the net. Klingberg is not a soft player, even if he is a slight one. There is a difference. Greg Pateryn also went Full-Greg to stand up to Pateryn after Boyle continued barking post-bench-bump, which is good of Greg to do.
Julius Honka, while we’re discussing feisty players, also created all sorts of things tonight. Again, it feels like he should have like eight assists in the season by now, but this is a hard-scoring team at times, we’re reminded. Honka’s slick getaway from a two-man forecheck earlier on resulted in him taking a hit, but it also should have started a great transition for the Stars. Unfortunately, the puck wasn’t collected well in the neutral zone. Those are little things, but it probably sucks to take a decent hit after a nice move like that and have nothing to show for it. It also probably sucks to take a slashing call this season when stick-checking with force was taught to every player forever until this season, but that’s what happens when your four-man unit in 4v4 can’t get out of a heavy forecheck in its own zone. Gotta help each other out, boys.
What is this game, really? A broken stick that led to a great chance (and goal) for New Jersey, a bit too much early deference and two crazy Schneider saves in the third. This game is One of Those Games, I think. It’s okay to enjoy things in losses, and I sort of mostly did. It was dumb, though.
The Stars lost, but they could have won! These losses hurt because they’re avoidable, but they don’t really mean much more than that. It’s okay to lose road games every now and then, especially when the other goalie is making sprawling glove saves along the ice on a rocket from Jamie Benn with the clock winding down. It just wasn’t meant to be, and that’s fine. The Stars will win games like this more often than not. I promise. Probably.