There are times when games in Bridgestone Arena sound like soccer matches with all the weird chanting and whatnot. The scores seem to routinely reflect soccer games too. Thursday night was no different. It ended up being 4-1 with an empty netter at the end, but it was a very close game, another close game that the Dallas Stars lost unfortunately.
Vegas beating the Stars notwithstanding, the Stars really look like a cohesive club in every game. At times you could see the Stars just playing and not having to overthink each play. Buy-in is happening up and down the lineup yet the Stars still can’t score. Goals will come and they’ll be a playoff team, but they’re a scorer or two emerging from being a really good team.
My preseason, off-the-wall prediction was the Stars acquiring a scoring winger from Vegas at the deadline. I’m sticking with that, but it might be sooner than that. They need something on the wings and they need it soon so an otherwise good team doesn’t get buried in the standings.
1. Will the Stars size hurt them more than help them?
The Stars keep taking penalties and not really drawing them. They’re so big now that it’s hard to knock them down, which is great for holding on to the puck, but bad for drawing penalties. Unless the Stars start dropping whenever a stick finds its way into an inappropriate area they aren’t going to get many powerplays.
I’m not saying the Stars should dive, but I’m not saying they shouldn’t embellish either since every team in the league does it and NHL officials all but encourage it by never calling diving.
2. How much does Ben Bishop’s communication impact the defense?
The broadcast mentioned Bishop talking to the defenders several times. They mentioned him being a calming influence on his teammates with his play and words. We’ve seen how excitable they can be in the past. I have to wonder how much that plays into how well the Stars play in front of him.
3. Evergreen question: who is going to score the goals?
Do you know? I don’t. Brett Ritchie has started off cold on top of the lack of finishing talent. Either the Stars have to get on the power play more often or bring in some outside scoring talent or hell, both, if they want to be elite. The structure and depth is there. Gotta find some goals though.
Fancy Stats of the Night
The fancy stats weren’t unkind to the Stars. Both the Stars and Predators had 2.71 expected goals for on the game, but somehow they were the better team at even strength. The Stars won the Corsi battle at 5 on 5 and had more expected goals. If they could just get on the powerplay they’d be winning more of these games.
Better Know a Predator
That subheadline sounds like the folksy name for an FBI most wanted bulletin board at the Post Office, but no not today. Today we get to know Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. If you Google “Pekka Rinne weird” you actually get weird results. Most of them talk about how much Rinne is killing the Predators, and they aren’t wrong. Some talk about the Stanley Cup Finals.
He does seem like a good guy though. He (or someone else, I guess) wrote a story on The Players’ Tribune for the city of Nashville after the Stanley Cup Final ended. It’s fun no matter who wrote it and includes this:
“I’ll never forget turning to my agent, when we heard it was the Predators, and giving him this … look. This look that was just, like, No clue, man. Beats me. I don’t know where that is. What do you got? You know, expecting him to fill me in. And that’s when I saw the look on his face — he’s also Finnish — which was just priceless: It was the same look I had. He didn’t know where Nashville was either.”
The article is fun, but on a slightly related note I hate how these stories are portrayed as if the players wrote them by themselves. Please. Don’t insult me. Professional athletes can’t all spin a yarn like a lonely old man. I digress.
Game Score Stars of the Game
We’re going to pull Game Score from Corsica Hockey to let numbers tell us who the top players were in the game.
1. Filip Forsberg – Game Score: 2.6, Forsberg had a goal and an assist because of course he did.
2. Samuel Girard – Game Score: 2.1, Nashville shouldn’t be allowed to find so many defensemen. Girard is a 2016 draft pick. He picked up a goal and an assist.
3. Viktor Arvidsson – Game Score: 1.8, The Predators always find these guys and they always kill the Stars.
Highlight of the Night
This one is unfortunate.
Martin Hanzal drilled defenseman Yannick Weber as he reached for a puck. You can make an argument that this shouldn’t have been a five minute major for interference. You can make an argument that he should have been ejected and will now suffer supplemental discipline.
My take? I don’t want this hit in the game. Hanzal could have made a play on the puck if he was looking for it. He zeroed in for the hit and he’s so big he made direct contact with the head, regardless of the position Weber was in.
Stars Tweet of the Night
It’s good to laugh a little sometimes.