Dallas Stars: The Biggest Disappointments (All Things Considered) of 2015-16
At 17-4-0 there isn't a lot to be disappointed in with the Dallas Stars. But it isn't all sunshine and roses in Dallas, and there is always room for improvement.
The Dallas Stars sit four points clear of the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. Whether you have watched a few games or read a few articles, the cat is out of the bag: This team is good.
When taking a macro view of the team, it looks like everything is going right for the Stars. The Patrick Sharp trade has worked out well, Johnny Oduya has stabilized the blue line, and Antti Niemi has looked great and is keeping Kari Lehtonen fresh.
Of course all of those story lines have been published over and over again. It is fun to root for and write about a team tearing up the league. But today, we are going to bring a splash of coal and ash. Considering everything that is going right with the Dallas Stars, what has been disappointing about this team?
Eakin has seen his role change more than the sheets on the bed of a kid with bladder control issues. He has played with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, he has played center with Jason Spezza on his wing, he has played with Antoine Roussel and Valeri Nichushkin, and he has been charged with zone entries on the second power play unit.
Emotionally, I have argued in defense of Eakin. He does a lot of great things. He actually has a pretty good wrist shot and has a streak of dangles in his red-headed weave. Eakin is great along the boards and wins the puck more often than not, and he's provided a handful of very important goals this season.
The problem is, those individual aspects of his game have not conglomerated into a player that helps the team the way he could. The possession metrics are not kind to Eakin. His Corsi For is 45.8 percent and he loses more faceoffs than he wins (45.6 percent).
A deeper dig into his advanced statistics show his Corsi For Relative is -11.4 percent. Looking at individual statics with and without Eakin on the ice, nearly every Dallas Star is worse in possession with Eakin.
Whether you blame his lack of role definition, his defensive zone starts (55.1 percent), or just a poor streak of play, Eakin has not been as good as his new contract suggests he should be. It is silly to say he is a lost cause, because the ingredients appear to be there to bake a fine pastry.
Another player I have spent some time defending. Are you catching a theme here?
This offseason, Nemeth was a part of a crowded blue line. The way he ended the 2013-14 season was cause for hope that he could be an integral part of the Stars' defensive plan going forward. Unfortunately for Nemeth, he missed most of last season with a nasty wrist laceration.
Nemeth was a former linemate with John Klingberg on Sweden's World Junior Championship 2012 Gold-Medal winning team. When he began his career in Dallas he was filled with potential, and it was hard not to view him as the crease clearing bruiser of the future.
All of Nemeth's future is in front of him. But his problem is he has been unable to win playing time and has spent time injured.
Unlike Eakin, the disappointment in Nemeth hasn't necessarily been for his play, but for his lack of play. The injury struggles have been out of his control. Having only played in two games this season, sample size restricts any ability to prognosticate on his performance.
Here's to hoping he can get healthy and return to action with the Dallas Stars soon.
The National TV Schedule
The Dallas Stars, arguably the best team in hockey and definitely the most fun team to watch, have exactly two more games scheduled for national broadcast this season.
Granted, these contracts were in place before the league knew Dallas would be this good and desirable to watch. I would expect that at some point the Stars would be flexed into some national games late in the year, but the league has to be disappointed. They are missing an opportunity to engage a Dallas market hungry to embrace a winner.
The NHL has long been accused of being a "10-team league", but never has that been more apparent than this year. Ratings are important, I get it. Ovechkin and Crosby and the Bruins get more eyeballs than the Stars.
In order to grow the game, maybe NBC should spend some time and dollars showing a different team that happens to be awesome? Is that so much to ask?