Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 28: The Good and the Bad

Getty Images

Dallas Stars 4-3 over the Calgary Flames
Shots: Dallas 24, Calgary 19
PP: Dallas 0/3, Calgary 2/4

The Good:

Team defense- Finally, the Stars had good team defense throughout a game. You can point to the rough second period and the goals against as evidence against their team defense, but if you eliminate the Flames’ second and third goals, it was a good effort all around. They blocked 20 shots, which is definitely more than what we’re used to seeing. There were countless plays broken up by lifting sticks and forceful poke checks. The best example was the final 2 minutes, in my opinion. The Stars could not get the puck out of the zone and yet through all the puck movement and shots that ensued, the puck barely reached Lehtonen in net. They back checked throughout the game, forced a lot of shots to the outside, and made sure when they got the puck back in their own zone, that it cleared the blue line (and with possession most of the time, not just clearing it out).
This was a prime example of team defense. Notice Cole (#72) is all the way. Roy is right in front of him and his rushing back put him in a position to poke the puck away and stop a legitimate chance on goal. 

This was a picture of the madness at the end of the game, when the Flames pulled their goalie and threw everything at the Stars in hopes of typing the game up. (Getty Images)

This was the scene after Eriksson committed a turnover at center ice. He skated back hard to make up for his mistake and his back check resulted in him stealing the puck and clearing the zone, allowing the Stars to collect themselves defensively and get a line change for the offense.

1st line- The Eriksson-Benn-Whitney line was extremely effective. Every time they were on the ice, they were dangerous. They not only created chances on and were productive on offense, but they back checked and eliminated chances on defense. They ended up with 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 shots and 6 hits. And those numbers don’t account for the missed passes and shots that were blocked, deflected or shot wide.

Jamie Oleksiak- He wasn’t great or phenominal, but he was good. He played much better than he has the past few games. He was strong on the puck. He took bodies out of the play and cleared the puck safely out of the zone. The only big error made was on the Bouwmeester goal when he cut off a pass but couldn’t clear the puck. In the second period, he had a short-handed breakaway, but decided to slow down and misfire a pass rather than shoot on net. Remember, he is only 20, so there will be bad nights, but there will also be good nights like tonight.

This was the scene of Oleksiak's short-handed chance. He pushed up, got the puck and skated hard into the zone, but then he slowed down and misfired a pass to Roussel.

Bounce back- This is for the team in general. This was a must win. They had to win to redeem themselves from Saturday night. They had to win to regain some confidence. They had to win to take pressure off themselves after a 4 game losing streak. They had to win to avoid the standings cellar. They had to win to allow their coach and GM to breathe a sign of relief, at least for one more night. They just had to win. They won, and they did whatever it took to get that win. If this game didn’t show everyone the strength of their locker room and bench, I don’t know what will.

Loui Eriksson- Felt like I at least had to quickly mention his name for his performance this game. Not just for his two goals, but his overall performance in general. He was solid on the puck and away from it. He gave away the puck twice and both times he was the first player attacking the puck to make up for his mistake. He was part of a line that set up lots of chances on offense and he was often the first one skating back to help on defense.

Eriksson's first goal was a result of good, hard work, puck movement and moving without the puck. 

Dallas goal #3- Daley kept the puck in at the blue line and sent it in behind the net. Roy got the puck, skated up the boards and sent it back behind the net to Whitney. Whitney skated to the side of the goal and sent a pass to a wide open Eriksson in the slot. 

Dallas goal #4- Whitney skated into the zone, dropped the puck for Eriksson. He passed it over to Benn who took a shot that was blocked out in front. After bouncing around a little, Eriksson pounced on the puck and put it in the net. 

The Bad:

Momentum-killing penalties- The Eakin penalty that led to the Flames’ first goal drove me insane. The Stars were up 3-0, completely dominating the game. They were getting bounces and calls their way, the game was theirs. And then Eakin tries a questionable open-ice hit on Stajan for what? There was no need, no reason. I could almost physically feel the momentum shift to the Flames. And then Jordie Benn’s hooking penalty just felt like the Stars were handing the game over, undoing everything they had fought so hard for in the first period. I don’t blame Nystrom on his interference penalty in the third. I disagree with that call because the puck had just bounced off of Hudler’s skate, Nystrom didn’t leave his feet to hit and Hudler’s head wasn’t hit at all. It’s good that they killed two penalties and only took four total in comparison to their more frequent trips to the box earlier in the season. Not sure if it’s because of the number of young players on the team or just mental gaffs, but penalties like tonight’s usually cost a team the game.

This was Eakin's Interference penalty. There was no need for it, no place for it and it's a borderline hit.

This is the scrum that ensued. Eakin was at the bottom of the pile. The Flames went on the power play and scored a goal immediately and got back in the game.

Missed chances backfire- Oleskiak had a short-handed breakaway which he decided pass away to Roussel. The pass misfired and the Flames’ took the puck the other way and scored a goal. Morrow was robbed by Macdonald on an open net glove save. Cole just missed a backhand shot on a rush. There were several chances the Stars failed to capitalize on that either cost them on the scoreboard or simply kept the Flames in the game. The Stars dominated most of the game. it never should’ve been as close as the scoreboard showed.

Roussel was awarded a penalty shot in the first period. He skated in really fast at Macdonald, made a move to his right and took a shot on his backhand, but it was just wide of the net.

Cole had a chance to put the game out of reach, but his backhand shot on the rush was lifted just wide of the net.

Morrow had a glorious chance in the second period, but Macdonal made a great glove save.

Macdonald gloved the puck just in front of the goal line. A few minutes later, the Flames would score and get back in the game.

Power play- 0/3 is bad, but when you consider that the Stars failed to get set up more than twice on each power play, it’s rough. I counted 13 clears, 4 total shots, and 3 saves against on their three power plays. That is terrible considering how much the Stars attacked and shot when they were at full strength. Against a PK like Calgary’s, a team with the creative skills of Jagr, Benn, Whitney, Eriksson and Roy shouldn’t struggle just to get set up in the offensive zone.

Lines seen tonight:

PP-Morrow-Roy-Cole-Jo. Benn-Goligoski
PK-Fiddler-Nystrom-Jo. Benn-Daley

Notable Notes:
Faceoffs- Benn won 10 of 17, Roy won 7 of 15, Eakin won 4 of 11, Fiddler won 6 of 9 and the rest won 5 of 10.
Dallas goal #1- Cole skated into the zone and threw the puck toward the net with Morrow and Roy crashing. The puck hit off of Smith's right skate in front and went between Macdonald's legs and into the net.

It's easier to see Smith's left skate here and the puck after it went between Macdonald's legs. Morrow and Roy were crashing anticipating a rebound or a one-timer.

Dallas goal #2- Nystrom raced out of his own zone and into the Flames zone. he sent a saucer pass to Roussel in the middle, but there were three Flames around him. Nystrom skated to the puck and put it on net before anyone could even get a stick on him.

Calgary goal #1- The Flames won the faceoff and Brodie took a shot from the blue line. HUdler was in front of Lehtonen and deflected the puck over Lehtonen and into the net.

Another view of where Hudler was alone in front of Lehtonen and how Lehtonen was anticipating the puck's projection to go low to his right pad. But Hudler's redirection sent it over his right shoulder, under the crossbar.

Calgary goal #2- The Flames dump the puck and outwork the Stars along the boards. Oleksiak breaks up a pass by Bouwmeester, but he just gets it right back and backhands it over Lehtonen.

Calgary goal #3- Cammalleri does a spin-around pass off the boards to open ice for Tangauy. Tanguay was behind the Stars defense when he got to the puck, so he skated in on Lehtonen, deked right and tucked in the puck on his backhand.

This play was a very confident, solid defensive play by Dillon. He hustled back to race for the puck, poked it forward, put his body in front of his opponent, pushed him away and then controlled the puck and got it out of the zone. A beauty. 

Iginla tried to spark the Flames after they went down 2-0. He ended up fighting Cody Eakin.

As seen in this picture, Iginla clearly won the fight. However, momentum didn't shift to Calgary. The Stars actually ended up scoring a few minutes later before the period ended. 

My favorite part of the fight: after the faceoff, Eakin went charging at Iginla, but Iginla pushed him off and said to take their helmets off. Then the fight began. That's how you do it.

Hit of the night. Fiddler destroyed Smith on this hit. 

Eakin's shot hit off Bouwmeester's ankle and hit the far right post. It landed right next to Macdonald and he covered it. If it landed anywhere else, Smith was there to put home the rebound.

A close chance by the Flames that zipped just above the crossbar.

One of Lehtonen's good saves of the night. The puck hit his toes and came back out. Then he moved his stick to cover the five hole for another save in tight. 

Awkward moment when Eriksson was knocked into the Flames bench. His skate came awfully close to turning into a deadly play. 

Modano and Gaglardi were in the house Monday night. 

Guy Carbonneau was honored as another fan choice for the Dallas Stars 20th Anniversary team. 


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