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Game 66 Afterwords: League Parity Decides to Start Existing Again

Could’ve really used some of these wins back in December, guys.

Dallas Stars v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I’ll keep things straightforward again tonight.

  • Ah, another national broadcast. I know we can’t complain after having just been privy to Dave Strader and Daryl Reaugh against Boston and all, but...well, you know what? I’m not going to complain. The Stars got to thump a great team on national television (quote unquote), so I’ll just be happy with that.
  • Adam Cracknell returned to the hockey team! He played the fewest minutes.
  • The minute allottments were weird in general, by the way. Remi Elie was 2nd among the forwards (good for him, but), while Ales Hemsky played more than Tyler Seguin. Hemsky-Eakin-Elie was Ruff’s go-to line tonight, as Jason Spezza played just 12:26, while Eakin led the forwards with 19:28. Gotta defend that lead, you know.
  • Kari Lehtonen is having a good season behind an unimaginably bad penalty kill. He had a great game tonight. If you had told me in May 2016 that 10 months later, the Stars would be missing the playoffs and I would be satisfied with Kari as the number one goalie regardless, I would have been Very Much Surprised. But he’s improved markedly since last year. Talk about pressure all you want, and maybe that’s true. But the Stars got at least some goaltending this year. Just too bad they didn’t get much of anything else.
  • Jason Spezza even-strength goals? I will take those. It’s crazy how he seems to score more when his linemates aren’t two low-battery Roombas leashed together.
  • The Devin Shore goal was sketchy for sure (they usually are when you step over the goalie’s head before scoring), but I don’t see how you disallow it, given how clearly Shore was pushed in by Orpik. True, he didn’t break any speed records trying to vacate after the second check, but it’s not like he was camping out there. By the time he could have gotten out, the puck was already in there. If you’re the Caps, you probably blame Brooks Orpik (who was arguing with the officials) before the officials on that one. Reminder: Clearing the crease means understanding that the goal frame is a solid object. Second Reminder: Orpik is signed for another two years at $5.5 million.
  • Still, could Brad Watson really not have at least relayed “the player was pushed into the crease” before confirming the goal that counted was indeed “good”? I’m not asking for Wes McCauley here, Brad. Just logic. But then, you couldn’t provide logic for the atrocity that was Stars/Canucks Game 7 ten years ago either, so...
  • Also, don’t forget that unholy Holtby toe save right before that goal. Did Holtby bring an extra groin muscle with him to the rink or something? I assume he must have done.
  • Stephen Johns has had better nights. Getting walked by Kuznetsov isn’t a crime at all, but between that and being way out of position on the Backstrom goal, the American Boy ain’t helping his case for Vegas protection. (It should still be an ironclad case in my opinion, but I’m just saying that he isn’t helping it.)
  • Patrick Sharp scored a goal for Dallas after the trade deadline. The Stars won the not-trade.
  • Kevin Shattenkirk makes the Caps even scarier in the playoffs, but I don’t think that trade has been nearly as groundbreaking as you’d expect, given the Blues’ position in the standings. That’d be like if the Stars had traded away Goligoski or Daley at the deadline in 2014 instead of picking up the essentially retired Floridian version of Tim Thomas. To see a GM pulling the plug on a season in that position is pretty crazy, to me. Don’t we have league-wide parity (so to speak) specifically because “anything can happen if you make the playoffs”?
  • Radek Faksa’s goal was also reminiscent of the Blues and the playoffs, if you remember a certain Joel Edmunson whoopsadoodle. Good on Faksa for scoring on great chances.
  • Remi Elie is still a player who is in the NHL and therefore better than any of us can ever dream of being. He did not score tonight despite having a chance to do so, but that is okay! He is still living a dream, playing next to Ales Hemsky. I don’t think that comma is mandatory.
  • The Stars got upended in possession thanks to turtling after going up 3-0, were dominated in the faceoff circle, and received a victory despite asking Kari Lehtonen to stop 42 shots. This game perhaps was unlikely, is what I am saying.
  • Even more unlikely? Killing off four Washington power plays. They were not exactly “good” kills, but you know what makes an airplane landing good? The end result.
  • T.J. Oshie went bar-down on Lehtonen thanks to the puck being up a bit. Even Crosby can’t do that with a flat puck from that close, but I’m sure plenty of y’all blamed Kari for that. I guess the goalie is to blame for every single goal, technically.
  • The Capitals have only lost like two games in the entire season so far, so this was pretty remarkable. Hooray for Dallas! They might make the playoffs!
  • They probably will not make the playoffs.