Dallas Stars, Special Teams, and Colorado Voodoo Converge in 3-1 Loss: Six Easy Tweets

The Dallas Stars still can't figure out the Colorado Avalanche. And by Colorado Avalanche, I mean Semyon Varlamov. They also still can't help but shoot themselves in the foot on special teams.

You'll have to go all the way back to 2013 to document the last time Dallas beat the Colorado Avalanche. But whatever. You all know the story. Semyon Varlamov is just better than the Dallas Stars, and no one, from the players to the coaches, from the coaches to the analysts, from the analysts to the ice girls, has an answer.

Dallas might have been in business with just a little luck, and less nonsense on special teams. The special teams situation is its own thing. But for now, they're still officially in slump mode.

1. Voodoo Virtuosos

Somebody needs to tell these analysts that witch hexes are valid coefficients. Yes, Varlamov has a Lakeshore Strangler like supernatural hold on Dallas, but there's plenty more at work than just PDO.

Dallas played a solid opening frame, doing the things teams usually do to the Avalanche: taking them to the shot attempt woodshed. But nothing went in despite Dallas hemming the Avs in their own zone for what felt like eternity.


Erin and I talked about this on Twitter. John Klingberg made an errant pass to Jason Spezza on the Power Play. This allowed Soderberg a great singular play (it required Jamie Benn to lose his man and for Antti Niemi to get beat). And many people's first reaction was to lament Klingberg's decision.

No doubt Klingberg started this cascade of events (and he'd more than earn criticism for his next special teams gaffe), but Fraser and Staff have made the neutral zone drop pass from Klingberg to Spezza a default move for zone entries ever since both become locks on the top unit. I don't blame the systems component entirely (insofar as I think it does tend to work fairly often, especially when you look at how often Spezza successfully enters the ZSO). But it does contribute in subtle ways when specific schemes for specific players become the norm, making them easier to prepare for.

Klingberg needs to know how far Spezza is relative to the forechecker. But my impression is that the system lacks an adjustment plan. The only time I've seen the PP change it up is when the drop passee (Spezza) would immediate go tape to tape to one of the high forwards. It worked on a few occasions.

3. A Civil Action(s)

As if Varlamov wasn't enough of a heel, there were several occasions where Varlamov knocked the goal off net during a Stars pressure situation. It's a greasy move but not an illegal one. I don't buy the 'accident' excuse too much because goalies are stuck between the pipes long enough to be spatially aware. Frankly, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often. Wink wink, Niemi and Kari.

4. Scandinavian Spoils

I don't mean to beat up on Klingberg, but the second goal was absolutely on Klingberg. Any breakdown is collective at a granular level. Communication can always alleviate miscues, or stop them altogether. But Klingberg was the catalyst, trying to hold the line when the safer play would have been to cut your losses, back up, and let the Avs dump it in. Lesson learned, young padawan.

5. #fancystatscanshoveit

There's not much else worth reporting here. Except the alarming statistic that the Avs recorded 28 shot attempts in the entire game. Most legitimate hockey clubs can manage that in one period. Yet 28 % of their shot attempts were high danger scoring area chances. When you gift wrap an opponent those high danger chances, the numbers are bound to work in mysterious ways.

6. Mile High Hubris

Unfortunately corsi, fenwick, and PDO work like district courts; no justice.

Some stray observations...

  • It's hard to pick out any real offenders in the shot attempt schmuck sweepstakes (try to say that five times fast). Dallas is 6th in the league at CF% versus Colorado's 30th (at 44.2 Percent). Naturally, Dallas would get their chances. But despite the possession dominance, Cody Eakin and Jason Spezza were two of only six players within the 60th percentile. I mean, that's totally acceptable for any other game. I just think this Eakin-Spezza experiment isn't working.
  • Esa Lindell struggled a bit, which is, as is always the case for a 21 year old rookie defensemen, acceptable. But he's starting to do a little of what he's done in Cedar Park; having trouble corralling the puck under pressure.
  • Dallas gets to deal with another team that likes to defy the numbers in the Calgary Flames tomorrow. Their play has been good, so I think extrapolating broad narratives of what makes this team inefficient is unfounded. At this point they need to work on those special teams, and just go from there.