Roster Watch - Did Someone Spill a Drink, or is the Boat Leaking?
The Dallas Stars took last week firmly on the chin. Read on to see how full the Down section has become, and who escaped the meltdown.
A part of me wants to mark them all as down. The whole freaking bunch. That's what four losses does to a guy. It's a visceral reaction to a team obviously going through a nasty, early-season slump. Even Dallas' one bright spot - a stellar offense - vanished more quickly than leftover Halloween candy.
But is that fair?
Probably not. Anaheim has more points than any other team in the league, St. Louis sits just a single win behind them, and Nashville is just a single point back of that. Even the two lesser teams: Los Angeles and Minnesota, represent the defending champs and conference's best team by goal differential respectively.
What I'm saying is that there are bright spots. Not many, but they do exist.
Trevor Daley (4 GP / 1 G / 1 A) - They can't all be down, can they? His goal against Nashville was an excellent individual effort, and the latest in what has been a strong offensive season so far. I still have one eye on the other end of the ice, but his pros continue to outweigh his cons.
Vernon Fiddler (4 GP / 1 G / 6 Blks) - Looked fine last night between the Pitbulls. After a two point week, Fiddler is another player currently in the "not part of the problem" category.
Antoine Roussel (4 GP / 1 G / 9 SOG) -Roussel was really good this week. He scored, he shot, he hit, and he even took a turn on the first power play unit. A very welcome sight for Stars fans looking for something to get excited about.
Patrick Eaves (3 GP / 1 G / 0 PIM) - Saw significant ice time against Nashville (16:53) due in part to a night on the Seguin line. Scored a goal to tie the game, and had an earlier chance blocked. A job well done.
Shawn Horcoff (4 GP / 1 G / 7 SOG) - Made the critical mistake of scoring first against the Kings, thus dooming the Stars. I liked what I saw from Horcoff this week. The veteran has five points so far this season and is averaging just over 12 and a half minutes each night. Very reasonable.
Tyler Seguin (4 GP / 1 A / 15 SOG) - Nearly 300 games of NHL experience tell us Seguin shoots about 12%. That gives me confidence what we're seeing is just a slump. Still, it's an extremely ill-timed slump. The fact his peripherals are still strong is encouraging, but goals are going to define Seguin's level of success.
Kari Lehtonen (4 GP / 4 L / .897 SV%) - There were certainly moments, but right now Lehtonen is consistently getting outplayed by the guy on the other end of the ice. A little help from his defense would go a long way, but so would a standout game.
Jason Spezza (4 GP / 0 G / 0 A) - "So long as the offense remains prolific..." that's what I said last week. Whelp, the offense did not remain prolific. A strong week by Ottawa's former captain would go a long way to steadying the ship.
Jamie Benn (4 GP / 0 G / 0 A) - The goal-less drought is at six games, including a lack of production of any kind for the past four. The chances are there, and this breaks my heart, but Captain Benn is down this week.
Jordie Benn (4 GP / 1 A / 3 SOG) - It all sort of fell apart last week, didn't it? Jordie looks uncomfortable with the puck, and is having trouble transitioning out of his own zone. That eye test is supported by the underlying numbers, which show a negative possession player over the last week.
Ryan Garbutt (4 GP / 1 A / 3 Hits) - I want to point out the effort, in particular against Los Angeles and Anaheim. I just can't. Not after a pointless, away-from-the-play slash gave Nashville a critical power play goal. Listen, we all want to slash James Neal, but Garbutt has to know better.
Erik Cole (4 GP / 0 Pts / 11:51 ATOI) - A few good bursts, and in fairness, Cole was one of Dallas' better players against the Minnesota Wild. That said, he played just 7:09 in last night's loss, and last scored on October 21st. He needs time with quality linemates to get rolling, but his overall play just doesn't justify that time.
Brenden Dillon (4 GP / 0 Pts / +4.7% Fenwick Rel.) - I admit it, I included the #fancystats just to troll a little bit. Dillon is why we blend advanced metrics with more basic statistical measures rather than take them on their own. Yes, he's better than the guys around him, but the complete lack of production suggest a player struggling to make meaningful, positive plays happen.
Ales Hemsky (4 GP / 0 G / 0 A) - That goose egg is only going to get heavier. Hemsky is doing a lot of things well. There were even flashes of chemistry last night with Jason Spezza and Valeri Nichushkin. Only flashes, though.
Colton Sceviour (4 GP / 0 Pts / 4 SOG) - The struggle to contribute continues for Sceviour. With Nichushkin back in the lineup, you have to wonder if Colton's chance to stick in the top 6 has officially come and gone.
Kevin Connauton (1 GP) - Hasn't seen the ice since a ten minute cameo against Anaheim. Seems to be the odd man out with Gonchar back in the lineup, but with other defenders struggling, that might not last.
Anders Lindback (0 GP) - With so much else going wrong, Lindback is going to have to keep waiting for the chance to redeem himself.
Valeri Nichushkin (2 GP / 1 SOG / 12:38 ATOI) - Like Gonchar, let's avoid drawing any serious conclusions until he has a few more games under his belt. That said, Nuke looked good against Nashville, and could be a terror once the rust shakes off.
Sergei Gonchar (2 GP / 1 SOG / 12:30 ATOI) - Too early to tell what kind of impact his return will have, but Gonchar made his first appearance of the season against Los Angeles. At this point expectations are low, but any kind of positive contribution could mean the world to the beleaguered Stars defense.
Jamie Oleksiak (4 GP / 6 H / 5 Blk) - Steadier. The Big Rig isn't a difference maker quite yet, but he is looking progressively less like a panicked rookie.
On the Shelf
Jyrki Jokipakka (1 GP / Sent Down) - Played a solid 14 minutes and change against the Wild before being sent back down to the Texas Stars. With Gonchar healthy, the Finn had to make way.