It’s a rainy, overcast day here in Austin, Texas, but my joy remains unflagging. You know why? It’s certainly not because my dad reminded me that my proud Jayhawks are playing against the Longhorns and I should watch that humiliation live since I have access to Longhorn Network.
NO! It is because our crazy little hockey team won again last night, against a team I consider a sleeper pick for the playoffs – the Carolina Hurricanes. This win puts the Stars at 11-3-0, 22 points, top of the Western Conference and second in the league.
Yes, I did make a blingee of our league standings. Because this is a serious hockey blog.
Per usual, all numbers here are 5v5, score adjusted, and from war-on-ice.com unless otherwise stated.
Kari Lehtonen looked excellent last night. In fact, in both the game against Boston and then again in Carolina, Lehts has recovered well from letting in a frustrating goal.
- Side Note: Dallas is just going to be a team with poor net front defense. Like, that’s just the way it’s gonna be. We give up a large number of High Danger Scoring Chances (much like the scoring chances on the chart you see every game from me, but in the small area in front of the net) so having goalies able to make those saves in tight is going to be important. Kari did that a couple times last night.
- Side Note 2: Kari also did a great job of controlling the pace of the game last night – making good decisions about when to play the puck in his zone or covering up for the face off. Mental sharpness isn’t necessarily something we saw a lot from him last year.
RADEK FAKSA’S FIRST NHL GOAL!!!!
The Stars’ depth shone again last night, getting goals out of the first, third and fourth lines (and then that weirdo empty netter).
- Side Note: Sceviour had a hell of a night, earning the first star of the game. If I had been giving out Stars-only awards, I’d probably go 1) Kari 2) Sceviour 3) Jamie. Those guys really took over the game and gave the Stars the ability to win in the third period.
- Side Note 2: I mentioned several times last night that I think Scevs is starting to model his game after Fiddler, who he’s been playing with most of the season. I think this is great to see from a guy who originally was a “pure scorer”, and will certainly make him a valuable asset to a Stars team loaded with offensive talent.
At first, this game looked like it might go the way the game in Toronto did, especially after Jordan Staal put the Canes up 1-0 on a defensive breakdown in front of the net. There was one glaring difference between this game and the one against the Leafs, though: The Stars didn’t take a single penalty in Carolina.
The Más o Menos
The Stars DOMINATED possession in the 1st period, so much so that even Razor remarked on it, saying “the analytics people love this!” Well, he’s not wrong, but the cycle with little net front presence reminded me of our lackluster power plays from last season and surprise surprise, we didn’t score.
Valeri Nichushkin is officially one of the unluckiest guys in the NHL right now. No, seriously. This is a list of the 5v5 individual scoring chances (per 60 minutes) of the guys who have played 10 games or more and still haven’t scored an even strength goal.
- Side Note: I was kind of hoping that weird empty netter was Val’s, only to get the monkey off his back about this. Still, if he keeps creating these chances, once the dam breaks, he’ll be scoring left and right.
Roussel was an unexpected scratch, as he participated in morning skate, and it looked like Hemsky was going to sit again to rest his hip. You well know my feelings on playing through injury, and pressuring Hemsky to play before he’s ready could set his rehab back. I obviously don’t have any insider knowledge of the situation, but I’m making this face right now
- Side Note: Rous is listed as “Day to Day” and Ruff indicated he may make Sunday’s line up, so at least it’s not bad.
- Side Note 2: We just learned that Sharp did injure himself crashing into the net after his goal (see below) and will not likely play on Sunday.
Goals on Goals:
(and Faksa’s goal again because it’s his first)
Razor was pretty sparing in doling out wisdom last night, so have this instead: