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A Demoralizing Loss: 6 Easy Tweets

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At some point I’m going to need the Stars to address the fact that they stop playing when they get ahead three goals.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In the first game of a three game road trip against the Central Division, the Stars first visited Nashville for some Grand Ole Opry and a Predators game.

That they played in. Which, as it turns out, might have come as a surprise to them.

Because they certainly didn’t play like they knew it mattered.

Let’s tweet about it.

1. No love lost

Two fights within the first minute of the game, and each involved PK Subban sucker punching both Antoine Roussel and Radek Faksa, both of whom were already engaged with other Predators players.

Faksa’s dancing partner was Vern Fiddler, who he used to play on a line with last season. Draw your own conclusions from the gusto with which Fiddler went for Faksa.

Later in the period, Curtis McKenzie faced off against a rather reluctant Calle Jarnkrok.

Forty-six penalty minutes were assessed in the first period of the game. This trend did not continue, but maybe the Stars perform better with frequency, because the first period is also when their special teams were their strongest. They killed all penalties and scored on two power play opportunities, one of them a 5-on-3.

But while the second and third periods saw the Stars and the Predators spend more time at 5v5 and less time in their respective penalty boxes, it also saw a decline in the special teams.

No good thing lasts forever.

2. It’s Benn a while

Whether you subscribe to the idea that Jamie Benn played injured through most of the first half of the season, the resulting lack of offense was still apparent.

In the first 38 games of the season, Benn had 10 goals and 24 assists, for a total of 34 in 38 games, or a points per game rate of .90. In 15 games in 2017, Benn has 8 goals (almost his total from the first half of the season) and 9 assists, for a total of 17 points in 15 games, or a ppg rate of 1.13.

Yes, we are obviously dealing with a much shorter period of time, about halfway through February, than the entirety of October, November, and December. But Jamie Benn is certainly on an upswing. It may be too little too late, but it’s still nice to see production from the captain.

3. This old song and dance again

After spending quite some time sharing the bottom of that particular pile with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Stars took over sole possession of the bottom spots on short handed goals allowed a few games ago. They’ve now given themselves some cushion, just in case the Flyers get any ideas about stealing their spot.

4. The effort was lacking

Midway through the final frame, the Stars shots on goal had crept up to 15. Added to the 14 they had from the previous two periods, they’d gotten one shot on goal in eight and a half minutes, during which time the Predators scored three times.

The Stars had a brief resurgence in shots after pulling their goalie; they finished with 7 shots in the third to the Predators’ 15.

In a shot pressure chart, it looks like this:

From hockeyviz.com

The Predators scored three times while the Stars took one shot on goal. And this, by the way, includes two power plays for the Stars.

5. Deserves its own number

Kari Lehtonen was one of the better players on the Stars last night, and yes I’m aware they lost the game 5-3. Without delving into fancy stats, the shots on goal were 36-21. Delving into fancy stats, the Predators finished the game last night with 70% CF at 5v5. Yes, score effects will have an effect on possession. And yes, this isn’t counting the enormous number of penalty time.

So let’s look at the goals, eh?

Roman Josi scored from above the dot with four Stars players in between him and Lehtonen. A defensive breakdown led to a scramble in his crease, the puck went out to the point, and Josi had a clear shot while Lehtonen was still trying to figure out where the puck had gone.

Josi’s second goal came on a 5 on 3 power play. The Stars are historically bad at penalty killing as playing a rigid system is just not in their wheelhouse. Predators do some textbook cycling of the puck and Josi finds the room for a slapshot no one got in the way of.

Calle Jarnkrok’s goal came on a 1 on 2 breakaway at an almost impossible angle, around Jamie Oleksiak, who is seven inches taller than him.

Tyler Seguin wrapped Filip Forsberg’s goal up for him in shiny paper wrapping by turning the puck over in the neutral zone with no one behind him. Forsberg had a breakaway with no one between him and Lehtonen.

Here’s the truth I see people willing to ignore: the Stars’ 5v5 goaltending is league average and has been all season. Their penalty killing and power play leave a lot to be desired, and that’s as much on the skaters in front of Niemi and Lehtonen as it is on them.

So no, Lehtonen was not to blame for that loss last night, the Stars defensive deficiencies and lack of offense are.

6. With the game, with the season

At some point, you just have to ask yourselves how much more you can take.