Well, you can’t say that Lindy Ruff is checked out:
"I totally disagree with what the officials did to this game tonight." Lindy Ruff wasn't pleased with a number of calls from tonight's game. pic.twitter.com/pgGm5azDY9— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 3, 2017
Oh, hey, this game was Run by Tim Peel. That meant no call on the Namestnikov interference on Gemel Smith before Tampa tied it at 2, and then Peel got both players when Namestnikov got some chin music from Faksa, calling Namestnikov for embellishment. This is Tim Peel, professional hockey penalty caller, who then got sold a Remi Elie penalty (which was legit) after the Point hold just prior went ignored. It’s fun to see games decided on arbitrary penalty parades, though. The fans love the inconsistency from game to game! The fans love offsides reviews even more, also. Glad those are staying around.
Gemel Smith really and truly might be on this team next season. So much is unknown right now, but Smith has three (four) goals this year, tying him with the guy who led the Stars’ forwards in ice time tonight. Also, Smith seems perfectly capable of being Roussel-lite, and that’s worth a minimum contract any day of the week. I am thrilled for Gemel Smith, and you should be, too.
Esa Lindell collected many assists. Many of them! I’m glad Lindell got some points, but it’s still baffling to me how few points he’s collected playing next to Klingberg most of the year. Is this similar to how Eakin hasn’t gotten many assists while playing with Benn? It seems like it is similar. Also, many of Klingberg’s (and Benn’s) points have come on the power play, so that’s a thing to remember. Maybe if you’re lucky, it will supplant your memory of this entire season soon. Anyway, Esa Lindell shot the puck, and eventually the puck went in. Let us rejoice.
Much is often made of faceoffs, and no one is the subject of this hubub more than Cody Eakin. Maybe it’s just a case of finding something positive in his game this season, but faceoffs are the thing everyone seems to point to these days when talking about what Eakin contributes, and that seems both unfair and unjustified, to me. Eakin contributes more than just faceoffs, even if he hasn’t been scoring this year.
I guess it’s just that faceoffs are an easy traditional stat, and so that’s what folks are going to point to when they praise a center who doesn’t score. It’s convenient, but the thing is, what good are faceoff wins (that is, the 1-2% advantage Eakin has over a replacement-level center) if they don’t turn into anything? Yes, of course it is better to win a faceoff than to lose it; but I’ve linked to so many articles over the last three years that try to quantify the value of faceoffs, and all of them have discovered the same thing in the data: faceoffs don’t add up to much of a contribution to your team at all.
Think about that. If you win 75 more faceoffs than an average center, they are about as helpful as scoring one goal. Full-time centers might take 12-15 faceoffs a game (my estimate). Forgive me for not getting excited about going 51% on the dot.
Now, timeliness is always important: a faceoff win at the right time is more important than one in the neutral zone,c of course; but it’s such a tiny amount of instances that it’s foolish to try to establish a player like Eakin’s value by just looking at those. The fact is, Eakin’s greatest weapons are probably his speed and his one-timer. This season, he’s failed to do the other things that lead to goals: to find ways to carry the puck into the zone instead of dumping it; to break out of the defensive zone with possession; to continue an offensive zone possession with creative plays and passing.
I like Cody Eakin, for the record. He’s the type of player a team needs in the middle of its forward lines, and he made the Ribeiro trade look great, initially. But as Ruff started trusting him beside scorers, and as Eakin appeared to double down on his defensive identity this season when the Stars needed goals more than ever, all of Eakin’s supplemental scoring disappeared. Some of that is probably just bad luck. But some of it is just bad. I say, for the umpteenth time: it will be interesting to see what the next coaching staff does with this team. Somehow I doubt they will follow Ruff’s lead in putting him on the first power play unit if his scoring continues its absence, but we shall see.
Oh, right, the power play. Brett Ritchie scored a power play goal! I think he might be the only player who scored on the second power play all season, and I am not totally joking. Look it up, ya nerds. (That Hamhuis PPG came during the first unit’s time.) Ritchie also scored it with, like one second remaining on the power play. This goal was just as efficacious within the game as the second power play unit has been within the season, which is to say marginally.
You know what matters more than a few faceoff wins? A goal. Tyler Seguin has scored a lot of goals this season, and those are good things. I like Tyler Seguin. Also, his disallowed goal was the spirit animal of Brenden Morrow’s stupid disallowed goals from the San Jose series (if memory serves) back in 2008. History is never course-correcting, is it?
Well, maybe it is! The Stars scored a goal just after that no-goal, and, no, haha, this one didn’t count either, because Peter lost his hat. Why does the goal guy need a hat to make hockey go? I don’t know, but Tim knew, and he said “No!” Tim ruined everything tonight, some of it with justification.
The Stars lost, so I guess that makes some folks happy, since it might help the Stars draft a slot or two higher. I was sad, because I wanted the Stars to win! I guess that means I am a better fan than everyone. I can live with that.
Also, thanks to Bob Sturm for retweeting this video that I had almost forgotten about. Here is something bigger than sports, and all of us: