Game 32 Afterwords: Stars Do Not Win At All

The Stars did score a goal during a power play, though!

The Calgary Flames are red hot. Momentum is the word being tossed around a lot right now, and it's pretty applicable given that the Stars appear to have none and the Flames are more or less overflowing with it. The Flames haven't lost yet this month; the Stars' power play has scored only two goals in the Present Age.

It's worth nothing that the Stars' power play plummet has them ranked at 4th overall in the NHL, still. That's evidence of just how fabulous (and unsustainable) it was early on. It may also be evidence that this team has been thoroughly scouted by the other 29 at this point, so it's time they adjusted. This game did not feature very many positive adjustments by Dallas.

Ales Hemsky was much talked about after this game. Ruff commented that he's trying to find a way to get Hemsky more ice time. I'm not positive if there was an equipment issue or what, but I'd say seven total shifts through two periods is not very much ice time. Ruff was true to his word, for the record, as Hemsky would go on to get 10(!) shifts in the 3rd. Part of that was the standard bench-shortening that happens when you're down by one, but part of it might also have something to do with the fact that the Stars' offense has been uncharacteristically toothless against NHL goalies lately. Ales Hemsky can do certain things that, lately, a lot of other folks can't.

Johnny Oduya and Alex Goligoski have scored the last two rebound-type goals for the Stars (unless you count Janmark's getting his own). I rather despise the "dirty areas" cliche, and the Stars don't have the size to really bull into the crease and create havoc all the time, but at some point you need pucks to get to the net with traffic, and you need the traffic itself to find the resulting scoring opportunities. You can talk about Kari Lehtonen all you want, but the Stars played a bad team and managed to look just as bad when it came to creating scoring chances. That's impressive, and also it is many other things.

Seguin scored four goals against the Flames, once. Jamie Benn scored goals this year, and rather a lot of them. The top line has looked all sorts of befuddled lately, so despite the greed inherent in begging two of the top scorers in the league to score more, the Stars clearly need someone to do that, so who better? They haven't gotten a lot of volunteers lately outside of Johnny Oduya.

If that was what the Stars dominating a first period looks like, I'm not sure we want to see it again. Klingberg and Sharp both pinched when they should probably have been patient enough to fight another day on the first goal, and Kari got beat short side. A weird change after a few minutes of shoddy marksmanship (in both shooting and covering) saw Dougie Hamilton get a prime shooting lane, and he sort of duffed it along the ice, which was curiously not where Lehtonen's left pad was. Lotta traffic there, but go ahead and start decrying the goalie if you like. Not much to argue about on that goal.

The Flames managed to force the Stars to shoot when they didn't want to, keeping John Klingberg in particular almost utterly ineffective from the blue line. Janmark and Hemsky had almost a third of the Stars' scoring chances. Tyler Seguin only had two shots on goal. This game became broken after the first 15 minutes, and the Stars couldn't find the model cement to get things back into shape.

There's not much else to talk about, really. The team's hit a rough patch, which all teams do. The Stars can afford such a rough patch more than any other team in the NHL, which is handy. But regulation losses are anathema to teams in this league, and not going to overtime against Calgary in particular opens some kind of singularity in New Brunswick, I am fairly certain.

Colton Sceviour acquitted himself pretty well tonight. He may not be on the Stars next year. Ales Hemsky looked good tonight, and he has been mentally traded in many fans' minds for about eight months now. The Stars are glad to get help from deeper in the ranks, but when that help is actually the bulk of the offense, it ceases to be "help" so much as "a problem for the rest of the offense." It's great when all the players are playing well, but there's not much verbal salve you can utter about the Stars giving it the ol' college try tonight. The Flames got all the performances they needed to win, from the net on out. The Stars had their standard three-goal margin of error in mind, but there are aberrations from the norm. For this season, the last few games are such an aberration, even if some underlying trends seem to be more present. The Stars' offense has been the biggest underlying trend of all, and it has stopped. That's weird.

This is where coaching comes in and analysis can only do so much. Yes, it is clear that Cody Eakin is not doing a lot of things right this season; it's on the coaches to figure out why that is and to decide whether continuing to play him with Seguin and Benn will be the best means of solving that riddle. (Based on the line shakeups in this game, it appears they do not think it is the best means of solving that riddle.) We can look at Hemsky's relatively strong possession numbers and say that he needs to get more ice time, but what do we know? Hockey is a fluid game, and very little happens in anything resembling a vacuum. The coaches know firsthand what it feels like as a player when things go well. This is amateur (but well-paying) sports psychology in action, and the Stars are, we hope, near their nadir. Now we get to see what the former best team in the NHL has to say about that.