Game 59 Afterwords: Dog Days of February
Brad was at this game, so you all know whose fault this is.
The most passionately I ever felt about this game had to do with NHL.tv. You all know how iffy things have been ever since its disastrous debut, but now that we're basically a month in, I would love to be able to watch a game on the night it's played without the following (all-new!) challenges. You can skip to the asterisks if you don't need to read this.
The "hide scores" option only works on the NHL.tv page. If you're on NHL.com, that browser cookie no longer does anything to keep scores hidden. So you'd better make sure you don't go to NHL.com if you're watching a game on delay, because that score is going to be there.
This is a problem, because when I pause the game and come back to it, say, two hours later, the feed has since been archived. This means that the page I was watching will have a nuclear meltdown at the first non-cached portion of the game I encounter, or a commercial break of any kind. I have learned by now that I have to "switch" from the live feed I was watching on delay to the "archived" game (which is the same little problem that fried the whole thing on its opening night last month). Do you know how to do that?
Right, you have to go NHL.com again (as far as I know). If you're in an "old" instance of NHL.tv, you cannot get to the new "archived" feed of the game you want to watch. You have to go back out and back in to the NHL.tv page, and the only way I've been able to do that (refreshing was not successful) is to go to NHL.com first and click a score from there. Which means...
Yep, there are the scores of the game you sort of wanted to watch without having it spoiled for you. So sorry you had to see those! New and improved, you know. You're welcome for fixing everything. It is broken now.
Oh, and even after I switch to the new "archived" feed, it still restarts the broadcast to the very beginning at every commercial break, so I have to refresh the page and re-position to the timestamp I need to be at. Clearly this is related to the code behind the NHL's new-this-year ads that they've started inserting into TV timeout segments in place of the local broadcast commercials. I won't even start with asking why a paid, on-demand service needs commercials. It's never about "need" with the NHL these days, but absolutely about "can get away with." If the NHL could at least try not to bork my viewing experience ten times per game with their spaghetti-coded advertisements, I would be grateful. Or at least less not-grateful. At this rate, I'm fully expecting the next NHL app update on my phone to set my wallpaper as a looping Vine of that "Showhole!" commercial. Hey, Bill Daly has to feed his family, folks.
Programming is hard, and the NHL.tv reboot is a massive, massive undertaking. I'm sure the MLBAM folks that got under the hood of the NHL's servers promptly broke down and sobbed for a full hour once they saw all the Velcro, bailing wire and Scotch tape holding everything together, so I sympathize with them. Given that, I suppose it's too much to ask for the NHL to have delayed or tested their new product extensively before launching it to utter and complete disaster. Apparently it's also too much to ask for them to have sortable stats in the box scores or shift charts, condensed games (who thought it was okay to remove these?), DVR controls that won't error out once you go full-screen, "advanced" stats that are actually correct and useful in any way, or really any of the features that a human hockey fan would think to put in a major sports website. Or rather, just keep from the previous website.
* * * * *
I have much less to say about this game, fortunately. Here are some brief thoughts now that I've managed to finish watching the game at midnight.
Louis Domingue was good, and he got a bit of post luck as well. The Stars still don't look full-power, but they should have scored more. Patrick Sharp and Antoine Roussel in particular are going to be seeing Domingue in their dreams tonight, and I don't mean that in the way that all you juvenile little twerps are going to suggest.
Antti Niemi actually was pretty good, except for a couple of instances. He saved Klingberg's bacon on #3's lovely pass to the Wrong Antoine in the slot early, and he also stopped the initial attempt on Domi's breakaway later on. The Stars should have controlled this game, but they got out of sorts as it went on, and Niemi couldn't seal things enough as the 'Yotes piled up quality chances.
Jamie Benn did deke a foolishly pinching OEL, Sharp fed it to Seguin on the 2-on-1 as quickly as you please, and Tyler Seguin goes top-shelf, short side. Props to Sharp for getting rid of that puck ASAP. He knew which way the universe has been leaning, and he wasn't having any part of it.
There were almost 20 shots "credited" to the 'Yotes in the first. It wasn't that bad, actually, but the second half of the period in particular saw Phoenix Quebec City Arizona getting some good looks at Niemi, who had a largely stable performance, including a nice penalty kill by his team. 1-0 Stars after 20, and you kind of felt like Dallas could get more methodical and put things out of reach if they stabilized, right?
Well, after a great push to start the second, the top line lost the puck in the offensive zone, and Max Domi blew past Demers for an all-too-familiar sight in 2016: a skater with the puck breaking in alone on the Stars goalie. Domi went backhand shelf, and Niemi had no chance. I think the Stars' third pairing on defense was actually their least disastrous tonight, which is the only compliment I can muster for the blue line this evening. Hooray for Patrik Nemeth activating before the puck was even dropped, and hooray to Jordie Benn for actually preventing some sure-fire goals on at least two occasions.
Okay, now take a breath: Benn drew a double minor on AZ, which turned into a 4-on-3 for the Coyotes, which turned into a 5-on-4 for the Stars, which was killed off only to see another Stars power play begin again. That one finally worked, but man, Dallas needs to get their house in order when it comes to the man-advantage. Both penalties taken in that sequence were due to getting out of position, even if they weren't the best calls in the entire world. Still, it was nice to see a classic Spezza assist again. I've missed those.
The Stars made good on what we all felt was a promise to get trapped by this game by immediately surrendering the lead thanks to a bad Demers clear and a wide-open point shot down broadway with New York traffic. The Stars perhaps could have challenged for goalie interference, but why even bother? You're more likely to get a goal overturned for interference by pounding twelve Capri Suns and reciting Evangeline through the PA speakers than you are by throwing the proverbial flag these days.
Roussel was flying tonight, especially just before he had his leg ripped out from under him when he pulled up on a partial breakaway. There was no call. Demers was then whistled for a similar infraction shortly after that, but it shouldn't be any news by now that the Stars aren't getting every call we think they deserve. Complaining about refereeing is like some simile I don't care to scare up right now. Dallas got their late power play chance to get back into the game, and they couldn't do it. That's probably where the finger can and should be pointed. Or maybe just at the entire team in general, tonight.
There were more bad chances allowed, and there was a fun little Ales Hemsky punch-back goal to draw within one again. That was nice before the Stars finally gave in, and then it was not fun. Arizona hockey does not tend to be.
They've played a ton of games lately, and they have gotten ever so many points from most of the important games. Let's just assume they were saving their real fight for Boston this time. If you had to lose today or Saturday, you'd all choose today, right? I would do that, too. It's not technically a mandatory choice, but let's hope it turns out to have been.