Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Beating the Wings...Lovely

There may be things in sports that I enjoy more than beating Detroit, but this morning, that list seems pretty short. I love seeing the Stars win a game they looked sure to lose after 20 minutes. I love seeing the Stars beat the Red Wings under any circumstance. But, to see both on the same night was a rare treat.

So, what did they do that they haven’t been doing? Why are they 2-0 at home against Detroit this year?

What was said in the lockerroom of the Stars in the 1st intermission? Better yet, what was packed up by Detroit in that same 1st intermission?
Regardless, allow me to throw out a hockey theory: “There is absolutely, positively, nothing bad that can come out of consistently out shooting and out chancing your opponent”. Last night, the Stars out shot the Detroit Red Wings, 49-30; 40-16 after the 1st intermission. That is rare domination over the best team in hockey.

Further, this wasn’t a one night aberration. Mike Heika wrote about this Monday Morning

FRISCO – There is a trend afoot with the Stars.

The team is starting to dominate the shots-on-goal differential. Over the last eight games, the Stars have out-shot the opposition by an average of 35.5 to 25.6 – a mark that would put them with the best NHL teams of the last decade.

And yet, the Stars are 4-3-1 in that span and have been outscored, 23-22. They are averaging 2.75 goals per game – not what you'd expect from a team that's dominating puck possession and scoring opportunities.

I know the results have not been what we all want, but allow me to repeat: There is nothing bad that can happen if you are going to get more shots on their goalie than they get on you.

Shot totals can deceive some nights. A shot is recorded from a dump in for a change that ends up on goal. It has virtually no chance of scoring, but it is a shot on goal by the definition of the rule. However, the best teams in the history of hockey always have outshot their opponents.

Now, the Stars have figured out how to do this in a stretch that his included the best teams in the league: Detroit, San Jose, Anaheim, New Jersey…. This, is a great trend.

Possible explanations that may not be positive? I have one. Have the Stars come to grips with their deficiencies in the defensive end and have figured out the only way to address it without a major trade is to encourage the less than defensive defensemen to push forward at every opportunity. If you cannot win a 3-2 game,
maybe 40 shots help you to win a 5-4 game. Just a theory I am working on.

Are the Stars good enough to make the playoffs, and continue their way up the ladder? Maybe. But they still have plenty of problems:

• Special teams are horrid. PP is 26th, PK is 27th.
• Faceoff percentage is bad. 24th in the league.
• Blue-line remains a work in progress.
• Goaltending comes and goes, and there appears to be no back-up.

But, let’s forget about much of that for a nice evening. The Stars got big night, I think partially because their manhood was challenged last Thursday. They were more effective at times in their own end, because everybody was helping. 6 Stars in their own end make for tough sledding for the opponent. But, they have a hard time maintaining their focus for 60 minutes most nights, and that is why they are digging out of a hole right now…or trying to. They have caught Nashville, but they sit 12th in the West.

How about beating the Red Wings without getting goals from any of the top scorers? If I told you that Ribs, Richards, Modano, Neal, Loui, would all be goal-less, and the Wings would get 2 from Datsyuk and 1 from Hossa, would you like your chances? Me, neither.

Nice win, boys.


Flaco said...

Thanks Bob, good stuff.

Nice win indeed.

And I've been parroting your comments about the faceoffs and the special teams all over the internet, and all anyone wants to talk about it Marty Turco when you lose a 1-0 game in a shootout to the Coyotes.

It's maddening.

If the PP just got a little better it would be amazing what a difference there would be

Randy Shipp said...

Bob said:

Nice win, boys.

Hear, hear! One comment: I've noticed that faceoffs have been a problem for a while now. From Sec. 303 last night, however, it looked like the Stars did pretty well in the circle. Do the stats bear that out?

Also, painful topic, but...Is there an explanation for some of these un-screened, un-tipped goals that Marty is allowing now? The one that went high, short side on him early seemed very gettable if he'd started with his glove up instead of at his waist. I have NO problem with missing the deflection in front, the total screen...but on a shot from an angle, I need my goalie to handle clean shots pretty consistently.

And, my God, what are they going to do if he tweaks something? Were you around to watch Tobias Stephan warm up? So many practice shots went by him that he was either utterly unprepared to play hockey or utterly disinterested. That position is terrifying, especially if the Stars manage to do just well enough to get our hopes up about the playoffs. Are there NO good backups to be had now?