Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 19: The Good and the Bad

Getty Images

Dallas Stars 5-4 OT loss at Nashville Predators
Shots: Dallas 24, Nashville 31
PP: Dallas 2-4, Nashville 1-4

The Good:

Matt Fraser- He didn’t do much but he did show he can take advantage of his time with the big club. He scored his first NHL on a fanned one-timer by Roy that came from a behind the back pass from Loui Eriksson behind Rinne. He showed only a few glimpses of his speed and physicality, but I think he’ll get more comfortable and play better with more games under his belt. His numbers in the AHL prove he’s a sniper and don’t forget his first shift in the NHL last season he blazed down the left boards past a defender and nearly roofed the puck in the net, so he is definitely an offensive threat the Stars can use. Same goes for his speed and body.

Dallas goal #1- Eriksson was behind the net and made a behind-the-back pass to Roy. He fanned on the shot but the puck slid right through to Fraser (center) who ripped the puck past Rinne.

Fraser was all smiles after his first NHL goal

Trevor Daley- Coming back from a neck injury, Daley looked normal. He was strong defensively, quick on the turnaround and moved up on a few rushes. Was a little scary when Hornvqist’s stick tripped him into the end boards on an icing, but good to see he got up fine.

Power play- 4 power play goals in the last two games?! Wow that practice last week really paid off. They have a slightly different setup now, but most importantly they are moving better with and without the puck, they are taking not just more shots, but better shots.  They are opening up more ice for themselves. Then again, the Stars seem to really struggle against an aggressive PK and Predators mostly sat back and looked to block and clear rather than pressure and attack.

Dallas goal #3- Stars were on the PP and Fisher took a high-sticking penalty behind the Stars' net. Nilstorp skated off and Fiddler came on as an extra attacker. He came in unnoticed and unmarked so Benn made a little back pass, Fiddler skated in and absolutely ripped the puck into the corner above Rinne's left shoulder.

Dallas goal #4- The Stars made some good passes and movement on the PP, then Eriksson threw the puck at the net. The puck hit off of Josi's stick in front and fluttered in to Rinner's right.

This is hands down my favorite power play set up so far. It's unbelievably effective and dangerous. Ryder and Jagr's off-hand shot positioning, Eriksson down low, Benn in the slot and a defender (not necessarily Goligoski) at the point. Awesome stuff. 

Lots of offense- The Stars have now scored 3 or more goals in each of the last 10 games. Considering how the Stars began the season, and the expectations coming into this season, that’s pretty impressive. The fact that bottom 6 is contributing as much as they are is greatly helping. Being able to plug in guys like Garbutt, Roussel, Fraser and Smith and get production from them, as well as the veteran checkers like Fiddler and Nystrom, is fantastic. Now, if the Stars can just stop giving up so many goals, everything would be much better.

Dallas goal #3- 25 seconds after Fraser's goal, Ryder (far right) made a pass through three Predators to a position perfect for Smith (bottom left) to deflect it in and over Rinne.

The Bad:

Cristopher Nilstorp- Can’t really put this game’s goals on a lack of help. Fisher’s backhander in the 3rd should’ve been stopped. Nilstorp continues to get beaten on screens. He seems to get scored on almost every time someone stands in front of him. You can say the Stars need to do better clearing the big forwards in front of him, but it’s not all on the defense. Especially these days where players can’t necessarily roughhouse the guys in front. The good goalies get better at looking around the screens and getting in position to stop the ones they don’t see and Nilstorp’s 6’4” 184 lb. self is physically capable. Nilstorp needs to develop that part of his game for success. Or else guys like Hornqvist, Franzen and any big-bodied forwards will provide screens for easy goals every game against him.

Nashville goal #2- Josi took a slap shot from the point (top center) and it made it through all the bodies in front and past Nilstorp's blocker.

Nashville goal #5- OT winner came on a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Again a body was in front of Nilstorp and again it was a shot that he should've stopped. 

Jamie Oleksiak- For the most part, Oleksiak was invisible this game. He threw some pucks at the net and didn’t make a habit of big defensive mistakes but I put him in this category simply for fisher’s goal early in the 3rd. Fisher was his man entering the zone. Oleksiak didn’t get physical and eliminate fisher or at least force him to the boards. And he didn’t use his reach to poke the puck. Instead he allowed Fisher to squeeze between him and Goligoski for an open backhander (which Nilstorp should’ve had). And if you look back far enough, Morrow and another forward both pursued the puck and left Fisher open at center ice to get the puck and skate in. Just an all-around failed play on the Stars’ side.

Nashville goal #4- Morrow and another forward attacked one player. He got the pass off to Fisher near center ice so he collected the puck and skated to the blue line uncontested. Fisher then split Oleksiak and Goligoski and tucked in a backhander between Nilstorp's legs.

Penalties- Same story again here. Taking too many penalties and taking weird ones as well. The bright spot is that they’re not mostly mindless penalties taken in the offensive zone. And the Stars defense has been getting much better at not getting that annoying interference penalty as opponents enter the zone. The problem this game was the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to Nystrom and Fiddler and the fact that they put the Stars in a position where they had to kill nearly 1:17 of 5-on-3 time… and Nashville eventually scored.
The Stars' top two penalty killing forwards and a third man in the box is a very unsettling image. 

Faceoffs- There is more to this than just the wins/losses on the dot. The Predators were missing their best faceoff man in Paul Gaustad and the Predators are not very strong even with Gaustad in. Still the stars won 26 out of 57 draws. I keep faceoffs in the good or bad columns because it is a very critical aspect of our team that the Stars made moves to get stronger at. With Benn, Roy, Eakin and Fiddler, the Stars should be stronger on the draw than they are. Sure losing Ott hurt, but they upgraded on Ribeiro’s faceoff skills so it’s got to get better throughout the season. Final numbers Benn won 5 of 15, Roy won 8 of 15, Eakin won 6 of 12 and Fiddler won 7 of 14.

Lines seen tonight:
Benn- Daley

PP- Eakin-Roy-Morrow-Benn-Smith
PP- Benn-Jagr-Eriksson-Ryder-Goligoski
PK- Fiddler-Nystrom-Dillon-Robidas
PK- Eakin-Garbutt-Benn-Daley
PK- Smith-Roy-Goligoski-Oleksiak (Eriksson’s regular spot but he was in the box)
PK- Eriksson-Roy-Benn-Daley
PK- Eakin-Dillon-Robidas (5-on-3)

Notable Notes:
  • Nashville was the lowest scoring and lowest shooting team in league and the Stars managed to give up 5 goals and 31 shots to them.

Wanted to point out that yes it was a 5-on-3 but Dillon's overpursuit on this play pushed Robidas into a bad situation. Robidas laid down to cut off a pass or low shot (instead of attacking the puck or taking the body) and the bottom picture shows the scene immediately after.

Nashville goal #3- Hornqvist (left) sent a pass across to Smith (right) but the puck hit Dillon's stick (center) and it went in past Nilstorp.

Nashville goal #1- Kostitsyn had the puck in the right corner, he rang the puck around to Clune in the left corner. He immediately made a centering pass and Fiddler couldn't react fast enough to either stop the pass or take out the man in front. So the man in front (Smith, left) simply put the puck in the net.

Now this is what I call a back check and eliminating the garbage in front. 

Nashville threw a lot of bodies at the net and almost always kept a body in front of Nilstorp.

Not sure what's going on this year with Eriksson, but he's taking more penalties than usual. 

Morrow had a chance in the slot in the 2nd period but hit the post to the right of Rinne.

Morrow's shot ringing off the post.

Nystrom had a heck of a chance to tap in this pass from Fiddler, but it went just wide of the net. 

Nystrom fought Fiddler in the 2nd. nystrom took Yip to the ice, but I'd have to say i think Yip got the better punches in. (Getty Images)

Another fight was about to break out in the 2nd between Fiddler and Fisher but the refs broke it up. Fiddler and Fisher had a little scuffle in front of the net just a few seconds before, then Fiddler pushed Fisher in front of the net and the almost-fight ensued. 

Very scary moment when Robidas was hit directly into the corner of the opening on the Nashville bench. Luckily, he was not injured and was back on the ice for his next shift, but that could've been really ugly.

Weber spilled some blood thanks to a high stick. He complained that there should've been a penalty on the play but replays showed that his own teammate Erat's stick was the one that struck him, not Jagr's.

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