At the beginning of the season, the 1-7-1 stretch to open the season was marked by some really horrendous hockey by the Dallas Stars. While a stretch like this five-game winless streak Dallas now finds themselves in hasn’t been seen around these parts in some time, there are some key differences:
*The Stars actually did earn points in two of those, so that’s something.
*While the results haven’t been there, the play actually has been better compared to the start of the season.
Though that second point is true, relativity is complicated. “Better” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”.
Over the course of the season, the hardest thing to reconcile between the fans and with the Dallas Stars as led by interim head coach Rick Bowness (and, to a lesser degree, former coach Jim Montgomery) is the “quality vs quantity” argument.
In its simplest form, there are some fans that look at the fact that the team wins the “quality” side of the equation but loses on things like advanced possession metrics or shots as a sign of a poorly run team. Others will want to have both — why can’t the team dominate the “quality” equation AND have all the fancy possession metrics to go with it? Still others will say that the way the team “looks” in terms of advanced stats doesn’t matter so long as they are winning.
At this point in the season, the “winning the quality side” mentality is that of this team’s coaching staff. That will trickle down to the players, as teams where players don’t buy into the philosophy are highly likely to be on the outside looking in when the playoffs hit. So this is how the coach and the players will evaluate the team’s performance, for good or bad or indifferent — and that isn’t going to change as fans yell at the ether for it to be different.
Teams are what they are now.
The Stars did win the quality battle tonight based on how they define quality scoring chances. (It’s important to note that they define it slightly different from publicly-available advanced stats sites might, so you have to take that with a grain of salt.) But the eye test for at least half of the game said more that they weren’t getting to those high danger areas, which is where they need to be to score goals. Each time they tried to setup a chance, there were two or three Nashville Predators in the slot area to break up cross-ice passes, and adjusting to that defensive structure took a bit of time for the Stars.
Goaltending was more than ready to deliver the team a win. When you only allow one goal against, that should be more than enough to get the favorable outcome. But the offense has to come through to match the defensive effort, and for yet another game, that didn’t happen for the Stars.
The key for Dallas as the busy month of March moves along is getting the goaltending outings to be more like tonight and for the team game overall to get back on track so they can rattle off some wins down the stretch. The start for Ben Bishop tonight after returning from a lower body injury was pretty good, especially given his last couple of outings. So that part has started.
Now, the rest of the team just needs to catch up.
*Practically as the game was about to get underway here in Dallas, Elliotte Friedman tweeted out that the NHL would have new protocols regarding game day media availability:
Starting today, @NHL will close dressing rooms to media, on recommendation of Centers for Disease Control (@CDCgov) in effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. NBA, MLB + MLS are expected to follow. Media availabilities will be conducted in formal press conference area.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 7, 2020
We’ve since learned that this will go into effect on Monday via a formal announcement by the league. However, the Stars put this into effect for today’s game. Instead of us going into the locker room after the game to get quotes, the three players with media duties were brought out to a podium and asked questions as they sat behind a table.
It’s a setup not unlike the playoffs. Honestly, as media in attendance at Stars games, the pivot from opening the locker room after games to not does not make much difference in terms of what you are able to ask or who you’re able to talk to. Social distancing (i.e. not putting people within super close proximity to you) helps keep things from spreading fast. That’s pretty much what this practice is for all intents and purposes.
*Please remember that there are people that live behind the social media accounts. They’re not the ones where the decisions are being made about how things are being done, the coaching decisions being made, or for setting the policies. Be kind on social media as things continue to evolve. Use our comments section for your Stars ranting. It’s kind of the whole point of this community, isn’t it?