The Two Bearded Ladies attempt to update you on the Stars playing in Worlds, cast aspersions on Jimmy Veseys moral character, Carolyn goes on a rant about East Coast Bias, and Merrin tries to make #duhviously happen. (It’s never going to happen).
In the latest episode of the podcast, we talk women’s hockey, Merrin makes her HockeyFightsDV pledge, Carolyn is again reminded of how much the Stars hate fancy stats, and no one wants to go up against the Swedes in a dystopian America.
Well friends, wasn’t that All Star break fun? I also took a few days off to remind my friends and family that I exist, but it’s time to come back to reality and camp out in front of the TV again – real hockey’s back.
We’ve heard a lot from the players (and coaches, and media) about how seriously the Stars are committed to making the playoffs, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
Here’s a revamped version of my playoff chart. I’ve added in the Blackhawks because they’ve recently lost some positioning.
The Stars Win % has dropped significantly since I started tracking the 14 day trend, and honestly, the two “hot goaltending” losses we’ve had recently (WPG and BOS) would get us closer to a spot, but would still put us one point out of the money. We’re on pace right now for 87 points and that looks about right.
Again, I’m a huge believer in trends and momentum – St. Louis had a great run that’s pushed them over Chicago in the standings, but their overall number is only 57% wins, which is probably not enough for them to stay at number two. On the other hand, the Blackhawks have been failing to convert any of their recent losses into extra points which is why you’ve seen them slip.
The Kings are doing their usual “sneak into the Playoffs” thing, but a 43% OT win percent is unsustainable. Either they’re going to turn it into Wins (like Winnepeg has done) or losses (like Minnesota), and it’s going to be the Kings’ early points (and San Jose’s collapse) that get them into a safe spot.
Are the Flames for real? I can’t tell. They’re just as streaky as the Stars are this year, with similar goaltending issues. They have less recent experience in making this playoff run, so I’d place my money on the Stars over the Flames for that last wildcard spot, though if you put any weight in trending, neither will make it.
But for the Stars, Merrin probably put it best: We need a hero.
For those who care:
Most realistic = (% of Season played by 1/3*pace of 1/3)+(14 Game pace*Percent of season 14 games is)+(Rest of season % weighted at 75% Pace of 1/3, 25% at 14 game pace)
Why not use “current pace” instead of 1/3 pace? Because it would double count the last 14 games (which already do stretch into December for most teams). The math will obviously change the closer we get to the end of the season, and we have more of it set in stone. Currently, teams have only played an average 56% of the season, so there’s a lot of speculation that can be done.
Good morning friends! Podcast Episode 2 is here (I know y’all were waiting with bated breath)!
(Side Note: Like most of this blog, our podcast does use a few naughty words, but in general is safe work.)
(Side Note 2: I am working on trying to get the Podcast up on iTunes for everyone, but am kind of bungling my way through it for now. Thank you for your patience!)
The Zemgus Girgensons Rap:
Correction: I mention Corey Crawford having an under 2.00 GAA. This is incorrect – it is 2.15. His back up, Antti Raanta is at 1.96.
Playoff Race Update (updated 1/13 AM – prior to games that day)
And finally, your game chart from last night (numbers 5v5, from war-on-ice, and D pairings from 2nd period on)
Good morning everyone, it is officially COLD in Texas. Thankfully, I work from home, so ha! Suck it, mother nature!
Anyway, there was a game last night and while the Stars commentary team called it a “disappointing loss” most of the fans I know were just happy to pick up the point.
All numbers courtesy of war-on-ice.com, 5v5, all score situations, unless otherwise noted.
- The Stars really respond well to adversity, don’t they? Finding themselves down a goal in the waning seconds of the second period, they reset, put Trevor Daley in front of the net, and just made a beautiful play to tie the game up. They were consistently stifled in the neutral zone, were smothered offensively (we’re a good multi-shot team usually, but Nashville shut that shit right down last night), and they still managed to drag the best team in the league into OT.
- Side Bar: How goddamn scary are the Preds this season? Christ, I am not looking forward to the two more games we play against them.
- SideBar 2: Pekka Rinne for Vezina. Calling it now.
- The Ruffle Shuffle went to town last night, making the controversial move of splitting up Benn & Seguin, but you know what? It worked. Now, Josh Liles at Defending Big D had been advocating for this, but as a method to get Benn (and Spezza) shooting instead of passing. While I’m not 100% on board with this particular conclusion, I do think the reason Ruff broke them up last night is one we need to be more cognizant of: when facing intense defensive pressure, it’s better two have two “top scoring” lines than one.
- Side Bar: Just look at the Blackhawks. There’s a reason that Kane & Toews usually aren’t on the same line these days.
- Dallas’ Penalty Kill had more pressure on the Nashville D than they did on the 5v5 at most times.
The Más o Menos
- Tyler Seguin did not score against Nashville last night. Nor did he score against Columbus, or even Chicago. Tyler Seguin, NHL leading scorer has only scored 3 goals in the last 11 games. So why am I not panicking? Well, the chart says he’s doing everything right.
- NOTE: Chart includes both 5v5 and PP goals, shots, and shooting %
- His Shooting % (Goals/Shots) was ridiculously high to start the season, topping out at an absurd 23.5% (from 11/8-12/6). It has recently started coming back down to earth, averaging just 12% since 11/28, but by no means is that a bad percentage (5v5, Phil Kessel is averaging 12.2% on the season).
- His PDO (aka “puck luck”) to start the season was well over 1 (with a 14 game high of nearly 1.07, from 10/28-11/25). It has started regressing back to normal levels, with a low point of .954 (from 11/28-12/31). Currently, he’s running at about a .98, so yes, recently he’s been a little bit unlucky, and the shots just aren’t bouncing his way.
- And, if you’ll notice, his shots/game average is on the rise. Clearly, he hasn’t gotten complacent. He’s not passing instead of shooting, he’s not only taking shots from the outside angles, he’s definitely doing what he can to get the puck to the net. So no, I’m not worried – Seguin should be back in the money soon.
- Now, I definitely think this chart has more to do with how well Nashville pressured us than how we actually played. There was a lot of smart defending last night, which is probably why we made it to OT instead of losing outright (well, that and the goalie interference call). Please note that I color coded the chart to correspond to the lines at the end of the night instead of how they started.
- Side Bar: The last time our team was collectively this bad at possession, we lost embarrassingly to Detroit. Thankfully, this was not the case last night.
- Side Bar 2: We were about due for the Rookies to have bad games, and unfortunately, they both cashed in last night. Klingberg especially had an awful game, being directly responsible for botched play that led to the Shea Weber goal in OT.
- Hemsky was benched for quite some time after his stupid hooking penalty, but still ended up with an average amount of ice time 5v5. He looked pretty dangerous post benching when he was put down on the 4th line.
- Our PP went 0/3 again. We are now 0/8 in the last three games (with no PP chances against Chicago). Get your shit together, guys.
- The Dallas 4v4 is abysmal. ABYSMAL. We can win in a shootout, but we cannot win 4v4. But it honestly doesn’t matter if it’s regulation or if it’s OT, we’re just BAD at 4v4. We did have a 4v4 chance against Chicago and guess what – they scored.
- Over the entire season, we’re at a 49% CF in 4v4 play. However, that includes two huge 4v4 blowouts against Carolina & Edmonton. If you remove top and bottom outliers, the percent drops to a grim 44%.
Playoff Race Update: Things actually look pretty good. As long as we keep picking up points in most of our games, ideally wins, but better OT than losses, we have a good shot at making the playoffs. The issue is that if we get that 8th seed (and that’s probably what it would be) we’ll be playing either the Preds or the Blackhawks – and we can’t play like we did tonight and make it to the second round.
To summarize my feelings on this game, I’m going to do a very vain thing and quote myself.
As usual, all numbers from war-on-ice.com, 5v5, all score situations, unless otherwise noted.
- Let’s start from the end and work our way to the beginning, why don’t we? That 3rd period was as good as the Stars have ever played this season. It was beautiful, fast hockey, with good possession, smart defending, and tons of scoring chances. Unfortunately, Bobrovsky is a damn fine goalie and really saved CBJ’s collective asses.
- Baaaaaaaaaaaaby rookie Brett Ritchie! Lindy Ruff said after the game that Ritchie was probably the best player on the team last night, and it’s really true. After that lackluster first period where Ritchie carried the fourth line, he got bumped up to Seguin’s right wing, and it looked like he’d been playing with them all season.
- Side Bar: He also got some time on the power play, though that’s not a particular feather in the cap this game.
- Side Bar 2: Horcoff was activated off of IR, so I expected him to play, but Ritchie is really earning his spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sceviour is the healthy scratch vs the Preds on Thursday.
- Hemsky is finally finding his groove. He has three goals and an assist in the last five games. He’s still only on pace for 12 goals this season and 32 points, which isn’t enough to justify his salary (4mil/yr) yet. Doing some speculative math (giving 25% weight to his recent trend continuing) it’s likely he’ll end closer to 20 goals and 40 points.
The Más o Menos
- This chart isn’t as good as it looks, but it’s not as bad either. Like I mentioned in my tweet, we were only at a 36% 5v5 CF during the first period, which was penalty-riffic. There were only 10.8 minutes of even strength time during the first period, and only 38.1 minutes overall.
- Side Bar: The fourth line only averaged about 5.5 minutes of even strength time, so their Corsi is not as bad as it looks – Moen has a 0% but only faced three Corsi events total.
- We only blocked 4 5v5 shots (to CBJ’s 11), but three of those were by forwards (Eakin with one, Roussel with two). When our forwards commit to defending, we’re a better team.
The Downright Ugly
- Listen, we’ve said what we need to say about our back up goaltending situation. It’s unsustainable, and if we don’t make it to the playoffs, this is going to be the big reason. We’re 1-7-0 with backup goalies playing this season (and that 1 is the EDM shootout). Those extra 14 points, or hell, those extra 7 points are a difference maker right now.
- Side Bar: In many of those 7 losses, I was content to blame the defending, but I just can’t this morning. There was one memorable break away, and Lindback just got taken. The only goal I don’t think he could’ve saved was the one that deflected off of Hemsky.
- Side Bar 2: He looks a crazy amount like Cary Elwes.
- The “Power” Play. God, there is really no excuse for that. We went 0 for 5. OH FOR FIVE. If the Stars want to win games, they have got to get the PP clicking again. The power play isn’t why we lost (i.e. no shorthanded goals) but it certainly is the reason we didn’t win. CBJ’s penalty kill was 22nd in the league coming in last night, and so that 0% conversion rate is just downright embarrassing.
- That first period. That period reminded me of everything that was frustrating at the beginning of the season. Turnovers, stupid penalties, slow, disconnected play. Thankfully the boys snapped themselves out of the funk, but we just can’t start games like that, especially since 3 of our next 4 games are against Central Division teams.
Listen, if we’re going to lose, at least we should lose to the East. Right after the Preds we play the Avs, which is another team trying to claw their way into the playoffs, and two games after that, we play the Jets, one of the teams currently in a wildcard spot. We’re still in this, but we’ve got to come out hot every night.
Going into this season, everyone knew the Central Division was the one to beat. Stacked with the Blackhawks, the Blues, the Avs and their Vezina nominated goalie, and an offseason strengthened Stars team, the playoff race was bound to be an interesting one. And it has – the Preds finally have a healthy Rinne and offensive weapons they haven’t before, the Avalanche have regressed to where statisticians expected them to be, and Winnepeg is refusing to go down without a fight.
And, well, the Stars are on the outside looking in.
All the Dallas fans know exactly how we got here, that horse is dead, and no one needs to beat it. The good news is that the Stars are on an upswing, one that’s unmatched in their division. The question really becomes – is it too little, too late?
Unfortunately, the answer is maybe.
If everyone on the bubble (St. Louis, Vancouver, San Jose, Winnepeg, Calgary, Minnesota, Dallas, and Colorado) keeps playing at the pace of the season thus far, we’re out by a long shot. But that’s unlikely.
If everyone keeps playing at the pace set by the last 14 games, we’d end up 7th in the West, and as one of the two wildcard spots. But with 39% of our remaining games being played against the Central Division, where the Stars just earned their first win on December 27th, that pace is going to be put to the test. This scenario is also unlikely.
We’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle of the two, which puts us frustratingly close to a playoff spot (9th in the West).
But hope isn’t lost. Momentum is on our side, and there are a lot of points on the table in January and February specifically. We play the Jets and the Avs three times each in those two months, and the Wild twice. Because these are all “bubble” teams, those are basically “4 point games”, and will allow us to close the gap even faster. We also play the Blues 3 times this year, twice at home, and given how they have backslid over the last month, those might be the most important games we play all year.
It’s going to take that special combination of hard work and luck for us to make the playoffs this year, but I still believe we will.
After all, the Stars have always liked playing from behind.