Jokipakka and the Dallas Stars Break out of Slump Against Oilers: Six Easy Tweets

The Dallas Stars finally did a thing that was positive. Although they didn't exactly break out of their slump like gangbusters, their solid play from the game against the LA Kings spilled over against the Edmonton Oilers.

Well, it finally happened. After what felt like an eternity stuck in the second wild card spot, the Dallas Stars are sort of back in business. If they had laid an egg against the LA Kings, it'd be hard to get too excited. But since the 3rd period of the San Jose Sharks game, Dallas has been playing their unique brand of hockey without going full #Starsing.

Yea it's the Edmonton Oilers, a team that in a year could have Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Austin Matthews all playing on the same team (hopefully #Starsing is eventually replaced by #Oiling). But you gotta start somewhere, even if it's just a porta potty standing in your way.

1. How to Physically Ruffle Shuffle

The game started out as most games do for Dallas fans; debating and discussing Lindy Ruff's line blender. Valeri Nichushkin-Cody Eakin-Jason Spezza was the main attraction. The experiment wasn't all that successful either. All three of them had the worst on ice shot attempt differential at 5 on 5 among all forwards except Vernon Fiddler. For the most part, I can't stand these "debates". The discussion often takes the form of "outrage", and pretty soon the only mental image in my head of anyone who partakes in said outrage is the first fifteen seconds of King of the Hill.

Part of the problem is that the criticism is often aimed at one layer; the three forwards. But no coach is looking for just the chemistry of the three forwards. They're looking for the chemistry of the three forwards, and the two D-men. It's a best of five. Not best of three. However that's determined, I assume it's not on a bathroom stall next to a bunch of 1-800 numbers. Having said that, I have to agree with the general criticism that it's odd how every natural center gets moved at wing except for Eakin. Not only that but even the line itself seems jumbled, as Nichushkin has notoriously stumbled at left wing. This won't be another debate about Eakin because a) he's a solid role player b) Dallas needs him for empty net curling goals and c) he ended up with an assist on the night.

2. Spezza Closes Drought Gates

I feel like I'm saying this all the time, but Jason Spezza continues to be everything he was signed for and then some. He could be dragging along Tom Wandell and Patrik Stefan and still have half of the 38 points he's scored thus far. It wasn't a great goal for Cam Talbot to let in, but it was sneaky. The first period was a solid one for the Stars. Quality of competition and all, but they're at least playing well, and have been for their last 7 periods of hockey.

3. We Need to Talk About Kevin

According to Texas Stars beat writer Sean Shapiro, Jokipakka would often spend time after practice picking corners (Julius Honka does this too). Much like he did against Talbot in the 2nd period. It would get called back unfortunately, but Jokipakka would make it official soon after. He's always been fairly good at putting the puck on net. It's a nice change of pace from guys like Daley, Robidas, Jordie, and even Goligoski who are pretty good at putting the puck on pads or glass, with very little accuracy variety in between. He rarely has a chance to get in close for shots like this, so who knows if this is simply some untapped talent or what.

4. The Captaincy Awakens

Edmonton would crawl back into this game with a Power Play goal because the Dallas Stars have some earth shattering, teeth grittingly, knuckle crunchingly bad Penalty Killing. I'll break their PK down this weekend with some good ole' fashioned tape review, but at this point, there's little to say except that something needs to change there.

Thankfully the PK wouldn't be the story of the night as Benn would get that proverbial monkey off his back with a very Jamie Benn goal. A single goal isn't enough to say that he's actually back, but his play in general was solid as a rock.

5. Post Crypts

Both teams killed the iron in this game. Razor would also add that this game could have been 8-6, which was mostly true as the posts were hit for every hot meal in the arena. The Stars won the 5 on 5 high danger scoring area chance as well, 16-9; a trend that hopefully continues.

6. January Slump 1-2-16 to 1-21-16

They didn't put a stamp on the game, but it wasn't for lack of trying. On to some stray observations

  • The Roussel-Janmark-Hemsky line really is something. They're dangerous on the forecheck, and have the speed to get back on point. Fans underrated Hemsky's presence. Even though he's streaky, when he's on the ice, he's one of the better representatives of Dallas' north/south style, which helps move the puck needle for the team in general. No he's not Dallas unsung hero or anything, but he doesn't get enough credit for contributing to the team's rhythm.
  • Esa Lindell had a gaffe or two, but nothing egregious. The best part is that he finally got to show some of what makes him unique; when he's holding the puck on the blueline, he has fantastic vision. His wrist shot has horsepower, and gets through lanes with ease. It's why I never understood the comparisons to Goligoski. Not only are both defenders drastically different skaters, they're drastically different puck handlers. Keep in mind, this isn't a knock on Goose. He does plenty of things better than Lindell at this point in his career (especially defensively). But Goose has never been able to threaten from the point with his shot, which Lindell can do.
  • As an MMA writer, I guess I should be excited about Johny Hendricks doing intermission commentary for the Dallas Stars but he hasn't been all that active this year. Hopefully he's taken time this year to learn the difference between the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
  • Now for the real test. Forget the Hawks. Forget the Blues. Can Dallas finally beat those friggin' Colorado Avalanche? /