Game Review – 10/11/09 (DAL @ VAN)

by Chelsea

Also known as, “The End of The Freebie Power Play Goals Road Trip.”

Game, sorta:

Dallas penalty killing woes continued right through the end of their Western Canada road trip as Marty Turco allowed 2 power play goals that turned a 1-0 Stars lead into a 2-1 scramble that somehow resulted in a 4-3 shootout loss.

As easy as it is to point to Turco for being a gigantic mess in the post-overtime skillsfest, chances are the Stars could have won at least one of their three OTL in regulation had their PK prevented just one of the goals scored.

So who is to blame for the special teams struggle? I would propose that it is not the coaching or the players, but the actual personnel on the ice during a penalty kill.

There was a moment during overtime where the Canucks had the Stars trapped in their own zone for what felt like forever. Dallas was all over the place and it seemed inevitable that they were about to get scored on. All of a sudden, Matt Niskanen (yeah, no, really) pinned one of the Vancouver forwards to the boards and kicked the puck away from him. Stars got it out of the zone and were able to change.

That same Matt Niskanen has gotten all of 2:21 SH TOI this season, compared to Grossman, Skrastins, Robidas, and Daley who all have over 10 minutes already. Daley, Robidas and Grossman have all already been on the ice for at least three power play goals against each.

Defensemen total TOI vs total goals against:

  • Mark Fistric – 27:48, 0 GA.
  • Matt Niskanen – 87:01, 2 GA (1 per appr. 44 min)
  • Karlis Skrastins – 80:35, 2 GA (1 per appr. 40 min)
  • Jeff Woywitka – 24:59, 1 GA (1 per appr. 25 min)
  • Trevor Daley – 98:22, 5 GA (1 per appr. 20 min)
  • Stephane Robidas – 89:50, 5 GA (1 per appr. 18 min)
  • Nicklas Grossman – 79:24, 7 GA (1 per appr. 12 min)

Granted, anyone watching Stars games would see that the Grossman-Robidas pairing has been extremely solid at even strength. However, perhaps it’s time to cut their shorthanded minutes a little in favor of Niskanen or even Fistric.

At forward, there seem to be some stereotypes causing confusion with who deserves time killing penalties.

For some reason, Mike Ribeiro has been on the ice for only 1:38 on the PK. Meanwhile, Brad Richards has had 5:23. That’s more time than Morrow, Neal, and almost as much as Eriksson. Pretty impressive ice time for someone who I would argue is one of the worst straight-up defensive players on the team. This is NOT to say he is a liability on the ice, but…

Brad Richards is a -58 in his career, and has not ended a season with a positive +/- since before the lockout. He has had 3 power play goals scored against him in his 5:23. He is hesitant to take the body and has blocked all of 41 shots since the start of the 07-08 season (that’s 134 games). While he is a fantastic player at even strength and with the man advantage, he should not be logging 5x the ice time short handed as Mike Ribeiro.

Granted, Ribeiro has some dumb defensive moments as a result of his (sometimes overly) creative style of play. However, I believe 100% that when asked to play defense first and foremost, he does it with the same intelligence that he is so impressive with offensively.

In fact, I would bet you will find him in the top 10 or 15 in entire league when it comes to offensive numbers vs penalty killing prowess. Here’s why:

Ribeiro got 81:45 in SH TOI last season and saw only FIVE power play goals against. That’s only one every 16 minutes. If you assume he logged just 60 seconds each time the Stars were penalty killing, and the Stars took 4 penalties every game, it would have taken the other team 4 full games to score a PPG while Ribeiro was on the ice.

It was his first season of getting regular shorthanded time.

In comparison, Richards got 118:11 SH TOI last season and was on the ice for 14 PPGA. That’s one every 8 minutes, or twice as many as Ribeiro.

While there are a lot of ways in which the Stars PK could be improved, from shuffling player combinations to changing strategy to just running drills, my BOLD PREDICTION is this:

Give Matt Niskanen and Mike Ribeiro a chance to take on more responsibility penalty killing, and the numbers will start to improve.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Sedin, Ribeiro, Wellwood
  • Rookie Jamie Benn got his first NHL goal in front of his family and friends with only 1:33 left in regulation to tie the game and force overtime.
  • Marty Turco is on a 5-game losing streak if you look back to last season.
  • Jere Lehtinen returned from injury to play his first game of the season, but Steve Ott pulled an oblique muscle and is now out for an unknown amount of time.
  • Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards, Jamie Benn, and Stephane Robidas all have point streaks going.
  • Conclusion: Marty Turco looked good, not great, but then stumbled again in the shootout. However, it seems that if the Stars fix their special teams problems without losing dominance at even strength, they won’t need to worry about games going into overtime.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading the league in +/-; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one 😦 point for taking a puck to the face, and one 🙂 point for coming back after getting stitched up; +4
Matt Niskanen: one for noticeably stepping up his game; +1
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist; +4
Jamie Benn: three for the goal and one for timing; +4
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: one welcome back! point; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the (very impressive) assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the (very impressive) goal and two for the assist; +5

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2 Comments to “Game Review – 10/11/09 (DAL @ VAN)”

  1. Hey, Robidas needs another +1 (at least) for taking yet another shot to the grill. My immediate thought was “oh no, not his nose again!” It’s the tagline on your blog, you should note it!

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