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Afterwords: Ten-Bell Saves and Ten-Goal Madness in Dallas

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It’s feast or famine for the Stars these days

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Dallas Stars
Your Dallas Stars, this year.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the shot disparity, both goalies had to feel like prey by the end of this one.

***

In their last ten games, here are the amount of times the Stars have scored the following number of goals:

One goal (6)

Four goals (2)

Six goals (2)

That’s it. The Stars have scored either one, four, or six goals in every one of their last ten games.

Another coincidence: the Senators have scored four goals in both their matchups against the Stars. The only problem this time was that they didn’t prepare for goals by Taylor Fedun and Gavin Bayreuther.

It’s hard to believe it was only a bit over a month ago that the Stars played the Senators with four different defensemen. Yes, you read that right: Dallas lost their matched against Ottawa last month, then Connor Carrick, Julius Honka, John Klingberg and Marc Methot were replaced by Joel Hanley, Gavin Bayreuther, Roman Polák and Taylor Fedun. The result, of course, is that the Stars scored five more goals. None of them on the power play. Dallas lost 4-1 in Ottawa, and they somehow dominated the rematch against Guy Boucher by playing their backup goalie and hitting the “next available” button four times on defense. Hockey.

One quick note on Julius Honka’s plummet down the depth chart: if you’re an out-and-out Stars fan, it should be reassuring on some level that Dallas can play all these call-ups and still tread water (or better) in the NHL. Turns out Dallas has other options back there, such as they are, and not bad ones!

On the less positive side, Honka seemed like an underutilized resource last season that could have swung some games the Stars’ way, if given the chance; in 18 games this year, it’s not his mistakes that Jim Montgomery is pointing to as reason for his relegation, but his indecisiveness and failure to execute offensively. That’s a sobering thought for someone who looked, for so long, to be what Gavin Bayreuther is being given every opportunity to become. I don’t think Honka’s story is written yet, but I do think it’s time for me to really come to terms with what I hoped Honka would become for so long, and what he is today. I’ll have to write a separate piece about that at some point.

Okay, we’ve another game to watch and stuff tonight, so let’s away:

1-0: Taylor Fedun and Joel Hanley don’t control their marks, as it turns out playing NHL defense requires a bit more effort than they give here. Ryan Dzingel easily dunks Bobby’s Ryan’s feed. This seemed about right, given the Stars’ last couple losses, but it was also a bang-bang play against the third pairing, so it wasn’t exactly definitive, which is easy to say in hindsight, but it really didn’t seem that troubling at the time, either.

1-1: Jamie Benn scores an even-strength goal thanks to Alex Radulov and Tyler Seguin. Credit to Benn for putting Seguin’s pass in the very top of the net—*all of DBD stares intently at Val Nichushkin*—and credit to Thomas Chabot, I believe, for clicking “Allow Cookies” on the internet browser he was using when he probably should have been covering the crease.

2-1: The rather green Victory Green defense took a penalty—Bayreuther for tripping—and the less-green Polák failed to clear the crease of whichever random Tkachuk is playing for Eugene Melnyk’s Hockey Boys these days. Note: Anton Khudobin’s amazing initial right pad save was for naught, but that was still a ridiculous stop. It’ll be really interesting to see if the Stars punt on the Colorado game tonight, which is as much of a scheduled loss as there is for Stars teams, or if they’ll ask Khudobin to do what Bishop did and play two games in two days. Of course, it’s not like anything bad happened to Bishop when he did that, so I’m sure the Stars aren’t at all worried about that, no siree Bob.

2-2: Great play by Radulov to hold the puck inside the blue line. Zone entries seem to matter, and Jim Montgomery seems to care deeply about them, by the way. Oh, and Mark Stone’s assist on Miro Heiskanen’s shot led to a tie game. That was an assist, so to speak, which would be thanklessly repaid with a puck to the face in the third period. The Senators were a bit banged up tonight too, as Zack Smith’s Universal Studios Hollywood helmet showed. That, of course, didn’t stop Smith from submitting his video application to work in the FIFA offices someday, as his general baggery got even Esa Lindell to blow his top a bit. (In fairness, Lindell’s initial frustration was at some uncalled interference by Smith, not at Smith himself.)

  • Note: Josh Bogorad mentioned that the power play is 1-20 in its last six games. Is that bad? That seems bad. When you are calling up Gavin Bayreuther after he missed a chunk of time with injury and letting him Klingberg the team in a tight game, you are probably a bit desperate for answers. Miro Heiskanen, as ends to be the case, ended up being Todd Nelson’s backup plan in the later versions of the power play against Ottawa, but there are many issues here. I agree with Montgomery that Seguin had a great game, as he hit one post and the Stars hit a few overall; but the power play looks a bit more Honka without Honka these days, and it needs the killer instinct. Of course, one doesn’t simply adopt such instincts without the taste of fresh blood. Can the Stars manage to keep juicing their even-strength numbers by virtue of never scoring on the power play again? Stay tuned.
  • Note 2: the Janmark-Dickinson-Comeau line was generating good chances in this one. Jason Dickinson, with face freshly wounded from what I assume were four uncalled high sticks in the pre-match soccer game, and Mattias Janmark both had good games, and Blake Comeau’s goal was not as fluky as I thought it to be at first blush. It’s nice to have a line tilting play the right way. Mattias Janmark got two assists tonight. He seems to be determined to redeem his early invisibility this season. The Stars’ scoring network this season is both expected and a bit odd, too. Jamie Benn is co-leading the team in goals, now. Huh.

3-2: Anton Khudobin sabotaged a great Ottawa chance by cutting off a cross-crease pass that would’ve been a sure goal, and then Shore shows some magic stickhandling on [NUMBER 67 ON OTTAWA, I NORMALLY LOOK THESE UP BUT, I MEAN,] to give Taylor Fedun his first goal—and credit to Fedun, he went cookie jar on the backhand to beat Craig Anderson. Are we all suckers for the goals from guys who only get a few shots in the league as they begin to age out of it? Well, you tell me.

  • Note 3: If you can’t admit that Anton Khudobin played really well tonight because of the four goals against, then I am going to lump you in with those people on the freeway who honk for no reason when traffic is stopped.

4-2: The highest-scoring defenseman in the NHL forgot which zone he was in, and he laid down a sweet deflection on Miro Heiskanen’s wrister to give the Stars a two-goal cushion, and Heiskanen his first two-goal game in the NHL.

  • Note 4: This was too good not to mention, because the Stars’ broadcast actually discussed the topic of counting shots on goals after I had already made this GIF earlier. While the Stars did undoubtedly outplay the Senators on Friday night, and while they did outshoot the Bojangles outta them, the shot total was a bit, ah, suspect. Including, say, this Roman Polák clear on the PK that bounced off the boards by the penalty box and then came in on Craig Anderson...and was counted as a shot on goal:

I mean, this description alone should disqualify any shot at an occupied net from counting, right?

I know most home buildings are sweetening the broth a bit, but there were a couple shots in this one (including the one the broadcast pointed out later) that made me think of the mystery assist given to Jamie Benn in his Art Ross season. Like the officials the other night who just let the clock tick down to intermission instead of giving the Stars one more offensive-zone faceoff, this is, apparently, something everyone tolerates in the game. Chacun voit midi à sa porte and all that.

5-2: Esa Lindell found Anderson’s five-hole to make it 5-2 after a great no-look pass from Jason Dickinson at the point, or did he? The building credited the goal to Blake Comeau, and while it might be a bit much to suggest that Stars’ PR had outright taken over the official scorer’s booth, one does wonder if the official scorer was just Jim Nill wearing a fake mustache on Friday. Or, I guess, a fake not-mustache.

5-3: Screened shot off a faceoff, I don’t care and you don’t care. What are we doing even talking about this, these goals are the RBI groundouts of hockey.

5-4: Bad, bad, bad step up by Bayreuther to allow a 2-on-1, then a pass over a prone Roman Polák for the perfunctory goal by Smith. Why did it have to be Smith? Whatever, even this goal didn’t feel that worrisome, considering how much the Stars had demonstrated their ability to move play at this point. Also, Smith lost the game and got kicked out at the end of things, so he was sad, I’m sure. If you’re the vindictive sort, you have that.

6-4: Good step up by Bayreuther, who ices it with a strong play on the puck and a fortunate clear into the net—on a shot on goal, yeah yeah—to make up for his play on the Sens’ fourth goal. Risk/reward, ha ha!

NB: Miro Heiskanen’s Hat Trick was a fun thing to root for, and Comeau’s late flip to send him would have earned him like fifty cowboy hat points if it had worked. Instead, it was just kind of cool. This has been a Blake Comeau Update.

Finally, Craig Anderson has been through a lot, but I’m not sure you can really say enough about how he battled to keep his team in this one. The Senators do not appear to be a great team, even if they have given a good effort to clamber up to not-last-place 23 games in. Still, let’s never forget the real Goalie Demoralization of the season. This game may have had Many Shots, but the Stars didn’t quite break the will of any single player. This season has been really something, so far. Maybe we’ll know what that something is a little better after this road trip. Data is data.