Stars Season Breakdown (And I Don’t Mean The Mental Kind) Part 1

It’s about time I got around to dissecting the Stars season, player by player. I’ll be dividing it into three sections: Top Time on Ice (TOI) forwards, Bottom TOI forwards, and Defense. But first, let’s level set on where the Stars landed as a whole.

Stars 14-15 - 10 gm avgs

This is the team’s 10 game rolling averages of 5v5 Score Adjusted Corsi For % (Missed Shots + Blocked Shots + Shots on Goal For/All Shot Attempts), Scoring Chances For % (Similar to Corsi, but trying to differentiate between high danger & low danger shots), and Fenwick For % (Same as Corsi, but does not include Blocked Shots).

Why look at all of them? Well, Corsi is typically what we look at in-season because it accumulates the most shots the quickest. But with a full season of data, we can start looking at the better predictors of success – Fenwick and Scoring Chances.

This graph shows basically the same thing, but in raw numbers, so you can see the trends of For and Against split out.

Stars 14-15 - 10 gm avgs raw

 

For real I wanted to include it just because it’s pretty.

Overall, the Stars started slow, often hovering below the 50% mark in the three categories, but after November, they make a steep climb upward, and by the end of the year, they were averaging around the 55% mark. You can clearly see the divergence of attempts for and against in all categories not too long after Seguin’s injury (aka, right about the time he comes back).

So let’s dive right in with our number one player!

Jamie Benn

JaBenn SoS 13-15

That chart is in all situations, as opposed to 5v5. I could probably spend an entire article on Jamie Benn’s season, but I won’t. Clearly he had a better offensive effort this year, capped off by winning the Art Ross. Given he more than doubled his time on the PK this season (only 55 minutes last year, versus 121 this year), having his overall Corsi For drop by only 1% is impressive, especially when combined with his new defensive responsibilities.

The only potentially concerning number would be the drop in his Goals For % Relative, but I believe that has more to do with increased secondary scoring than Jamie’s line dropping the ball, especially considering Jamie & Tyler increased their total number of goals.

JaBenn 14-15 10 gm avgs

This chart is 5v5 and Score Adjusted.

Unsurprisingly, Jamie’s rolling averages look very similar to the Stars overall numbers. #Leaderslead y’all. In fact, his first half of the year stats are about what you would expect, with a 52% CF%. In the last 41 games, he averaged a 57% CF%.

Jamie also scored his first ever NHL hat trick this year (followed quickly by his second ever NHL hat trick OH AND FIRST EVER NHL SCORING TITLE), which is pretty nifty. And combined with the Art Ross win and the Ted Lindsay nomination, we should all be feeling pretty good about our Captain’s efforts this past season.

Jason Spezza

Spezza SoS 13-15

Honestly, I feel like this chart says more about Ottawa in 13-14 than it does about Dallas this past season. But a couple good things to note – Spezza’s usage drastically changed in Dallas. He spent almost 100 more minutes on the power play with the Stars, which is part of his large change in zone starts. However, he was the most sheltered forward on the 5v5, too, with a 10.4% Zone Start Relative.

Spezza was an invaluable addition to the team because he was able to center either the first or second lines when needed, and his 17 goals were 5th on the team (4th, if you’re not counting Erik Cole). He also had a rough start to the year adjusting to the new system, but improved over time. His main drawback? Spezza has a -24 Turnover Differential (Takeaways – Giveaways), which means his aggressive play often sees the puck in the hands of our opponents.

Spezza 14-15 10 gm avgs

Much like the Captain, Spezza saw a bump in his numbers in the second half of the season, even though his trends aren’t nearly as tidy as Jamie’s. Still, all the lines are heading in the right direction, which is exactly what you need from a player who gets almost as much ice time per game as the two faces of the franchise.

Tyler Seguin

Seguin SoS 13-15

Segs actually recorded the most TOI/game on the 5v5 of any of the forwards. Because this view encompasses all situations, Seguin’s Zone Start % deemphasizes his increased defensive responsibility. 5v5, Seguin dropped 5% year over year. He also played 9 games less this season due to his injury and still tied his goal total from last year, and posted a 5v5 individual Scoring Chances/60 of 10.54 (right behind Jamie’s 10.77).

Much like our esteemed captain, Tyler’s Goals For % Relative dropped this year, but again, there was a lot more 2nd line scoring thanks to Spezza and Cole, which spread the goals out more than they were last year.

Seguin 14-15 10 gm avgs

Seguin is one of the most consistent guys on the team – he was running around 55% well before the midpoint of the season (Jan 10th). While he did have that unfortunate break because of his injury, he came back and more than held his own through the rest of the season, staying well over the 50% mark. Assuming Seguin takes his success from this season into next year, he’s going to be even more dangerous than he was before.

Cody Eakin

Eakin SoS 13-15

The Ginger Ninja had himself a career offensive season while seeing his role move from “Checking Line” to “wherever the hell we need you”. In fact, several times throughout last season, Eakin played on the top line, centering the dynamic duo. On top of that, he improved his faceoff % to 50.7% in all situations, a 3% increase.

Eakin was still one of the guys most trusted in the defensive zone, with his ZSO% Rel dropping 6% year over year – even on the 5v5. In addition, Eaks was one of the most important penalty killers for the team, spending almost 2 minutes per game on the kill, while managing to score 2 shorthanded goals.

Eakin 14-15 10 gm avgs

Eakin’s trends tip downward because of a rough February and beginning of March – coincidentally when he was playing more minutes as 2nd line Center while Spezza filled in for Seguin on the top line. It was a tough transition for him, as in the first half of the year, he was only averaging 12.6 5v5 minutes per game, but in the second half he was a full minute higher, at 13.6. Still, you can see that huge upswing in the last few games of the season which when everything seemed to click for the team, not just Eakin.

While his possession numbers are down season over season, and you see that trendline heading the wrong direction, Eakin’s play is clearly important to the team, and got him an invite to represent his country at Worlds. Unless it gets worse (highly unlikely), there’s nothing to worry about here.

Antoine Roussel

Roussel SoS 13-15

Our favorite Frenchman is another player who looks at first glance like he was having a down season. Expecting to be on the always relied upon Pitbull line with Eakin & Garbutt, Roussel frequently had to work with Fiddler as his center due to Eakin’s increased responsibilities, and a different RW, as Garbutt played less often than he did last year.

Rooster saw his usage change as well, joining the team on the second power play unit and racking up about 30s per game, when he was virtually never used last season. This also can account for some of the lightening of ZSO% Rel, as he still was an integral part of the PK unit this year.

Roussel 14-15 10 gm avgs

Very consistent across the whole season, Roussel was virtually flat in both Corsi & Fenwick For %, but showed a nice increase in Scoring Chances For %, especially in the second half of the year. Unfortunately, that increase SCF% coincided with a precipitous drop in 5v5 PDO (Save % + Shooting %, a measure of “puck luck”), going from 100.27 (mean) in the first half of the year, to only 92.7 in the second half.

So while he might’ve had what some consider a “down season” offensively, a lot of that can be contributed to dancing along with the Ruffle Shuffle and just plain bad luck.

Ales Hemsky

Hemsky SoS 13-15

I’ll be the first to admit I was extremely excited with Hemsky being signed on to the team over the summer. “Only $4m/yr! What a deal!” I said to myself. Well, on my twitter, really. See, I firmly believe in Oilers PTSD and frankly the play of Perron, Dubnyk, and literally everyone who’s left that place, lends credence to the idea. So with Hemsky signing on and hopefully picking up on his chemistry with Spezza from the Senators, I was optimistic.

And then it took him 22 games to score a goal. Despite the very sheltered usage, and plenty of time on the power play, Ales was down in total points and Points/60 minutes. He admitted it was really hard to find his stride while being shuffled around the lineup, plus we found out after the end of the season he was in a lot of pain and needed the same hip surgery all the cool kids are getting these days.

Hemsky 14-15 10 gm avgs

Still, this graph is a bit concerning. Remember, this graph is 5v5 and score adjusted, as opposed to the total numbers above. Clearly Hemsky’s total possession is inflated due to his time on the PP, as his averages hovered around the 50% line for most of the season.

As you may remember, Hemsky went out in the same game (2/13) as Seguin did, with an undisclosed lower-body injury (we can probably assume now it was a flair-up of his hip pain). The good news is that he came back from those few games off (about a week) stronger than ever. His play did tail off at the end of the season, but all of his trends are  positive, including Fenwick For%, which is generally used as a measure of defense (because blocked shots are a symptom of poor shot suppression, therefore Corsi is not as good of a measure).

This season was a disappointment, but there’s a lot to be hopeful about, especially knowing what we know now about Hemsky’s injury status. If he is consistently on a line with Spezza and a net crashing LW to replace Cole (Val, maybe McKenzie or Ritchie) I have no doubt he can exceed these totals next year.

Vernon Fiddler

Fiddler SoS 13-15

The last of our top 7 forwards, Fiddler recorded his best season in points since the ’09-10 season. Not too shabby for a 34 yr old playing on the 4th (or 3rd, if necessary) line. Fiddler was easily one of our most aggressive “defensive” forwards. He was all over the ice and proved a constantly frustrating presence for opponents – in fact he had the second most Penalties Drawn/60 minutes on the entire team. He also was the second best shot blocker of any of the forwards, right behind fellow Penalty Killer, Antoine Roussel.

Fiddler 14-15 10 gm avgs

Fiddler has one year left on his contract, and if we get anywhere near the kind of play we got from him at the second half of the year, next year is going to be another good one. You can tell he had a slow start (as much of the team did), but show a steady incline as time goes on, dipping only in the same “Seguin Injury slump” as the rest of the team. He ended the year with all numbers, including that important Fenwick For %, around 55%, which is impressive and a good sign that the new “swarm defense” mindset is working.

So that’s our top 7 forwards (in TOI, not in our hearts. Clearly I could never pick just 7). Up next: Last 7 Forwards, then on to our Defense!

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