Dallas Stars Up/Down: Slump Watch 2016 Edition
It was ugly and the Stars were winless. Just in case you missed either of last week's left-coast games. No, the world hasn't ended, but this sure is a rough patch of play compared to the heights of the season's first half. The Stars need to improve, most of 'em, as is evident by this
Does anybody stay up? That's the immediate question, right? Fresh from a five day vacation the Dallas Stars went west and got Duck-spanked. Next, they put in a good 20 minutes of effort against the Sharks and lost in overtime. It's now been a month since we last saw the dynamic darlings of the early season. To rub a little salt, the Stars now sit beneath the Blackhawks (albeit with games in hand) in the Western Conference.
Welcome to a world of increased expectations. Can someone who scores a goal really be down? Yes, if it's the right someone. This is not to say the Stars are "in trouble." They're not. They were simply too good over the first half of the season. It's just a reminder of their progress, and how that progress demands higher levels of consistency than we're seeing right now.
Patrick Sharp (91.3% PDO / 0 Pts / 67.1% CF) - The point streak ended, that's bad. Sharp also got caught in the Ruffle and saw his linemates change up a little bit. He looked good, despite the lack of production, so he escapes censure.
Jason Spezza (1 G / 1 A / 67.9% CF) - I have mixed feelings about the Three Amigos line. Yes, in cases of emergency, dropping Spezza between Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn is basically a PED, but this Stars team has yet to prove it can generate offense elsewhere when that trio is active.
Ales Hemsky (1 G / 14:06 ATOI / 2:54 APPTOI) - A healthy Hemsky got himself back in the goals and back on the power play. Here's hoping he'll manage another marker before March.
Mattias Janmark (1 G / 2 Pts / 33.3% ZSO) - The most impressive thing, to me, is that Janmark managed to produce despite a decidedly defensive deployment.
Antoine Roussel (1 A / 2:36 ASHTOI / 5 Hits) - Physical, productive, and penalty free. I don't know about you, but that's how I like my Roussel.
Jamie Benn (1 G / 3 Pts / 3 PP High-Danger Chances) - As an individual, three points in two games feels like an Up. As a captain, the fact a should-be-motivated team was listless two nights in a row in the midst of a losing streak feels like a down.
Johnny Oduya (Even PD / 35.5% ZSO / 1 H) - I have a love/hate relationship with the "hits" stat. No, it isn't an absurd waste of time like +/-, but it's highly subjective. Still, Oduya threw one and took eight. That's rough math.
Alex Goligoski (-2 Penalty Differential / 62.2% ZSO / -1 Goal Differential) - Despite an absurdly offensive week, in terms of zone starts, Goose got his tail-feathers singed a bit. Fans are left asking old questions about the Stars' and its lack of physicality.
Kari Lehtonen (4 GAA / .886 SV% / 31 SVs) - In his defense, the entire team no-showed that Anahiem game.
Tyler Seguin (1 G / 2:00 APPTOI / 8 SOG) - Seguin remains capable of elevating his game (and the puck) at a moments notice. His goal in San Jose was important, but it's balanced somewhat by his failure to register a single high-danger scoring chance on the power play.
John Klingberg (0 Pts / 2:06 APPTOI / 1 PPSCF) - Forget individual numbers, forget high-danger, Klingberg's lines managed a single scoring change of any kind on the power play last week. Tack on a lack of production at even strength, and you've got the picture of a struggling young defender.
Cody Eakin (76.2% PDO / 56% FOW / 71.4% ZSO) - Eakin the defensive anchor, apparently, is no more. Part of his usage reflects getting plugged back in with Seguin and Benn a little bit. How much of this is Eakin the individual scuffling versus Eakin having no idea what his role is in the lineup?
Vernon Fiddler (45.8% FOW / 29.4% ZSO / 11:42 ATOI) - Below his seasonal average in terms of time on ice. The fact the Stars were chasing so badly against Anaheim is a factor, but it speaks to the limitations of Fiddler's role, at present. If it's not close, how much can they use him?
Jyrki Jokipakka (1 GP / 14:18 ATOI / 00:18 ASHTOI) - Modest minutes this week, and a scratch for the young defender. When the going gets tough, it seems like the coaches go with other options.
Patrick Eaves (DNP) - If you don't weigh in, you can't wrestle.
Jamie Oleksiak (DNP) - Sent down for conditioning, then a defender gets hurt and they call Esa Lindell. That's how you spell down, my friends.
Antti Niemi (4 GAA / .897 SV% / 35 SVS) - Did his part to get the Stars to overtime in San Jose, but if you look at his last five games is 4, 2, 6, 3, 1 in terms of goals against. On a team struggling for consistency, the presumptive starting goalie does not get a free pass.
Patrik Nemeth (1 GP / 18:18 ATOI / - 2 Goal Differential) - Playing time is progress, right? Jordie Benn's injury probably upped Nemeth's ice-time more than the coaches wanted.
Jason Demers (27:24 ATOI / 3:24 ASHTOI / 3:06 APPTOI) - The fact he does so much for this team is both a testament to his versatility, and a question about the quality of the overall Stars' unit.
Valeri Nichushkin (14:48 ATOI / 0 Pts / 2 SOG) - Stop me if you've heard this before. While Nuke did not register any points, he showed flashes of good chemistry on a different line. At some point don't you have to staple the kid to a scoring line and let him figure things out?
Colton Sceviour (1 GP / 8:42 ATOI / 0 Pts) - One track meet and one scratch kept Sceviour largely on the sidelines.
Travis Moen (1 A / 7:24 ATOI / 22.2% ZSO) - Played limited, brutal minutes. Moen managed a point, but is he really the Stars' go-to bench guy for physical play?
On the Shelf
Jordie Benn - Injured this week, and placed on the IR.