4/25/19 – Previewing Round Two, Correctly

Hello. There are many talented people who watch the Stars. Many of them Grew Up and can no longer consistently write. One of the Blessings of Mooterati is that they will always have a Safe Space to share their thoughts.

Allow @ObsceneAlex , veteran of the Conference III wars, to get us ready for the Stars to head to St. Louis tonight.

After selflessly ending Nashville’s season to save hockey fans from having to look at psychedelic baby shit-colored jerseys for another playoff round, the Stars earned a chance to temporarily rest and recharge. That reprieve ends today, as they head to the dystopian wasteland known as St. Louis for round two.

We’ll find out soon what the second round will hold for Dallas, but what we do know is that no matter what happens, St. Louis can’t win the Cup. After losing back to back to back Finals appearances in their first three years of existence because the West Division was entirely made up of terrible expansion teams, they’ve never been back—in over 50 years of trying. Blues players know their best shot at winning is to leave town. This “I need to get out of here” sentiment is also contagious and sometimes bleeds over into other parts of the city.

The downtrodden St. Louis sports fans don’t seem to know the difference though, and remain in a blissful state of ignorance and hope. After all, in the “Show Me” state, Missourians need to be shown things to believe them. When their dreams are inevitably crushed each year, fans shave their playoff beards, drown their sorrows in local urine and stress-eat the melted plastic cheese flavored with liquid smoke on top of crackers concoction that they lovingly call pizza.

Will Dallas be the team that crushes that hope this year? We don’t know yet, but it’s inevitable that somebody will. What we do hope is that the higher being the city’s massive carrying handle was designed for doesn’t show up to carry St. Louis back to the hellhole it came from while the Stars are there.

4/13/19 – Scratching Spezza

The last two things I’ve written for the Dallas Morning News have centered around matchups with the Nashville Predators. The last one was this morning revolving around Esa Lindell. It got me thinking about Jason Spezza. Then Sean tweeted this out:

I genuinely like Jason Spezza. There is no dimension where Justin Dowling is a more accomplished NHL player, or where he has more offensive upside than Spezza. It’s important to consider how the Stars roll their lines these days. Once you do the logic behind scratching Spezza is easier to follow.

The Stars need to generate offense. It isn’t coming from the bottom lines. There is a need to get the top two lines into the offensive zone as much as possible. Seguin and Hintz take defensive zone draws, but in a perfect selling-out-for-offense world they’re starting in the offensive zone as much as possible. When the series shifts to Dallas I would expect them to get significantly more offensive zone starts than they did in game one (and likely game two) since the home team can dictate matchups to a greater extent.

So there are not going to be any offensive zone starts for Spezza if he isn’t on the top two lines, and with the emergence of Hintz there isn’t really a spot for him up there given his production and lack of defensive ability. If he’s playing on the bottom lines he’s going to be expected to start in the defensive zone more often. If you don’t let him on the ice for faceoffs (negating some of his value as a faceoff “ace”) you’re throwing him out on the fly when you know his skating isn’t great.

It’s…tricky. It’s the same logic that keeps Denis Gurianov out of the lineup. I don’t agree with it when it comes to Gurianov given his game breaking speed, but I have a hard time getting too worked up over Spezza at this point. In the top six they do have better options now, even if Spezza is better offensively than Dowling. Dowling is a pretty decent player though.

The fourth line barely played in game one, but when they were on the ice they were fine. They played straight up with the Calle Jarnkrok, Wayne Simmonds, and Brian Boyle line. Dowling had 52 points in 62 AHL games with a normal shooting percentage. He’s a fine depth player. If Spezza isn’t going to be a big part of the offense or on the powerplay it makes sense to have a more defensively responsible better skater on the bottom line.

It sucks for Spezza, but he’ll find a home next year with a team more able to fit him in. The speed game just isn’t going to work for him now, and the Stars are doing a hell of a lot more skating the past few months. It sucks for him, but getting worked up over it as a fan makes little sense.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.

4/11/19 – Sneaking a Catfish into Bridgestone Arena

Imagine your favorite team has made the NHL Playoffs. You’re so excited to get to a game. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve taken a game in. You want to cheer and go full tilt. Perhaps you get a little trashed. To really accent the mood of the moment you sneak a rotting catfish into the area attached to your torso with the intent of throwing it onto the ice to celebrate (????) a goal with the help of your parents.

This is the Nashville way. People do this. People also record educational videos explaining how to make this happen.Let us learn together.

First we need to meet the hero of our story: Catfish Cody. He appears to wear the number 69 on his customized mustard jersey. I feel like the number really fits and sets the scene in a way no other number could. It truly is a nice jersey. We will eventually meet his parents which I feel really seals the mood he was going for in the video.

Catfish Cody takes great care to dry the fish in the parking lot. I appreciate his dedication to food handling standards as he dries this catfish on, *checks notes*, the ground. A lot of effort is being taken to dry this fish with paper towels. We’re talking 20 seconds or so.

Why? Are we worried about bacteria? It’s a dead fish exposed to the elements and soon to be strapped to your body. Is this supposed to minimize the smell? What is the endgame here? What is the purpose? Just wrap the fish. This took a good 20 seconds of video time.

And he does! During the course of the video Catfish Cody will use almost an entire box of Saran Wrap.

Mr. Cody took damn near a minute to wrap this fish. Again I ask, why? What are we protecting? Wrap the damn fish.

More Saran Wrap was used to attach the fish to his body. I take it back: he used an entire box easily.

His parents showed up to help attach the fish. Both allowed themselves to be seen on camera.

They must be overcome with emotion as they send their son off, the pride and joy of their family, their offspring, a product of their love and a symbol of the legal obligation these two people made to each other in the name of matrimony, to throw a fucking fish on the ice at a professional hockey game.

Just to prove it was All Worth It, our hero Catfish Cody #69 had a camera person who was totally not a parent sit several rows behind him to record the Throwing Of The Fish.

And we aren’t even celebrating a goal. We’re so overcome with emotion at the singing of the national anthem that we launch a catfish onto the ice. How disrespectful can you be to the anthem?

These colors don’t run and these lyrics say nothing about throwing catfish!

Now you know how to sneak a catfish into Bridgestone Arena and make your parents proud while wearing a #69 jersey. Good luck for game two.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.

4/8/19 – Render unto Montgomery the things that are Montgomery’s

Jim Montgomery has taken a lot of shit this year. He’s deserved a lot of it too. This was a mediocre team at best for most of the season until around the All Star break. Then, suddenly, they started to play better. Sean Shapiro published an interview with Montgomery that goes into what went down a little bit.

One of the keys to being a successful person I’ve found is the willingness to adjust by reflecting about yourself, and the role you play in making success happen. Montgomery apparently went down this path hard at the All Star break.

“I read articles, watched games, just did that type of research,” Montgomery said. “What can we do to excel at that? And what can we do to give us a chance to make us consistently successful?”

Perfect. Even if the Stars had fallen short of their goal that’s all you can ask of someone if you trust their ability to do a job.

Two things really stick out to me about the interview. One, Montgomery got the leadership core engaged and taking ownership of the situation.

Montgomery sat down with Stars captain Jamie Benn and the rest of the leadership group. He held a summit to define what Stars hockey was going to look like for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

“The players talked about how we need to be relentless. How when we play a relentless style, (with) a ‘let’s go hunt’ attitude, we are in a pretty good spot and that’s what we need to be.”

Two, he stopped trying to fit square pegs into round holes. This team doesn’t have the offensive firepower down the lineup to go toe to toe with the top offensive teams in the league offensively.

“I was fortunate in junior hockey I had teams that could score, you know what I mean? So we didn’t have to adopt that type of mentality. At Denver, we had to adopt that and we had to change the way we played the last six weeks of the regular season.”

[…]

“I’m never going to go away from my belief that you have to pressure and possess the puck,” Montgomery said. “But some players just don’t hang on to pucks long enough, they don’t protect pucks well enough for us to do certain things. That’s why we did more one-on-one video.”

Roope Hintz has clearly taken to this with a 42 point pace since the break. Radek Faksa looks better. Jason Dickinson has shown more offensive flashes. We’ve seen how absurdly good Mats Zuccarello looks fitting into the group. Alexander Radulov can’t stop scoring. For the younger players though it took trust from the guys in charge.

Montgomery deserves credit for steering the ship back in the right direction. Getting the leadership core on track and buying in, especially after Jim Lites ripped them to shreds, was key. Once they set the tone it makes everything else easier. Right around this time Montgomery was clearly frustrated publicly.

Good for him for taking that frustration, and turning it into positive results.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.

4/1/19 – The Naming of the Cow

I would be remiss if I didn’t begin this official policy statement by acknowledging that the idea of using the Mooterus and Mooterus iconography as a punchline is deeply offensive to a large number of people from all walks of life. From sea to glorious shining sea and from the third coast up to the furthest reaches of Canadian territory the Mooterus is a symbol of love, respect, and humanity. Making a mockery of it only emboldens its message.

The great irony here is that all of the efforts taken lately by the Stars to tangentially besmirch the good name of the Mooterus do nothing but bring light to the cause. With more visibility comes more acceptance. We will soon live in a world where the Mooterus is allowed to roam free without fear of scorn. #LetThemRoam

Today the Stars acquired a cow. Victor E. Green has been seen walking it.

The cow must stay. It doesn’t matter if its April Fools Day or not.

Marty Turco, seen here in his Mooterus…

…has suggested several names for this sacred calf. Mike Moodano. Joe Mooendyk, Sergei Moobov, and Andy Mooooog. Our stance is the cow should be named Mooro Heiscownen. Given that this isn’t an option we fully endorse Sergei Moobov.

Voting can be done here:

Please help remove this Mike Moodano moonstrosity.

3/3/19 – A Product Review

Sometimes I don’t understand the Dallas Stars. Often they do things openly hostile to fun on and off the ice. I feel like there was a slight sea change last year when the Stars released the Mooterus Acknowledgement Video, but I may just be grasping at uterian straws trying to give them credit.

Then close to a month ago with no fanfare, no noticeable promotional efforts of any kind, and no real acknowledgment the Stars released this hat at The Hangar at the American Airlines Center.

The Glorious Hat

I can’t find any record of it anywhere online. I have seen zero vendors selling it. It ostensibly only exists in The Hangar. When I bought it the cashier even asked me if this was a new hat. No one seems to know what the hell it is or where the hell it came from.

From looking at the inside of the hat you can tell its a new item. The Stars new-ish font is used on the seam covers. 

Everything about the hat is just unpleasant. It’s very shiny. It was shiny to the point that I was curious what it is made of. Sure enough, Bangladesh Polyester.

It cost 34 dollars. It doesn’t breathe. The hat causes visceral reactions in people when they see it. On the concourse I heard someone commenting about the two Mooterai walking in front of me. I said to him “I know, they’re great”. His response? He screamed and said “you got the hat!”

And all of this seems fitting for the Mooterus. The hat is everything people think of when they think of a Mooterus: uncomfortable, visibly unappealing, and provocative.

Maybe that’s why it works.

I salute whoever thought this was a good idea. You won’t sell many of these, but one day I would like to shake your hand for having the courage to stick this among the assorted Stars camo and trucker hats.

I have a hard time thinking the Stars had anything to do with this, but in my mind this is a little test run to see if anyone buys it before the Stars finally embrace their past again*.

*Disclaimer: there’s no way that’s true, but a man can dream.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.

2/26/19 – Of Course Jim Nill Deserves Blame

Mats Zuccarello getting hurt less than one game into his Dallas Stars tenure is a fairly cruel break for a franchise desperately in need of at least a playoff berth. He was everything the Stars could have hoped he would be, and legitimately made everyone around him significantly better. That includes Alex Radulov and Tyler Seguin. His ability to create space for himself and others combined with his skating ability were just lovely.

Sorry, I need to stop. I’m getting the vapors.

Zuccarello breaking his arm blocking a shot so quickly into his tenure is a bit of irony I didn’t really need in my life. The timing was cruel, but the offensively gifted player they brought in to help fix the offense getting hurt on a defensive play is just a little too on the nose for my liking.

The move brought out some Adult Emotions for many fans, and some takes that are questionable at best. I can usually ignore Bad Takes (unless they are exceptionally poorly written in a Fort Worth Star Telegram column). This one though…I can’t.

Absolutely not.

Zuccarello getting hurt is a tough reality for the Stars to face, but they absolutely do not get to be let off of the hook because a move they waited until February to make didn’t pan out in the most cruel way possible. They chose to not do anything significant about the roster until after they Jim Lites called Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin fucking horseshit. They made the decision to say this roster was fine in July.

Blake Comeau, Roman Polak, and Val Nichushkin were the big prizes in the off season. Comeau is a fine depth player, of which the Stars had many. Polak is objectively the least successful player on the roster despite still having minutes shoveled his way.

At no point was Nichushkin ever coming back and becoming a 30 goal scorer. If the Stars really believed that they deserve every ounce of criticism possible for that terrible evaluation. Val had 54 points in 86 games back in mother Russia. If you translate that back to the NHL you’d expect him to be a 36 point or so player. He’s significantly under performing there too, but thinking he would solve the scoring issues was absurd.

We could keep going down the list. Martin Hanzal and Marc Methot were poor expenditures from the get go. Why is Ben Lovejoy now here? Watching Jeff Skinner, Max Pacioretty, and Ryan O’Reilly get dealt for reasonable to mediocre packages never made any sense. Dinging a franchise for moves they didn’t make is unfair as a general rule, but applied to this specific instance it isn’t. They thought things were fine. That’s a problem.

If you want to blame Jim Nill or Tom Gaglardi or some weird Deep Hockey State group for making poor decisions I don’t really care. The idea that they are allowed to shrug their shoulders, throw their hands in the air, and say “them’s the breaks” is completely unacceptable though.

Especially when Jim Lites himself said the media needs to be more critical of the franchise.

Help me fund the site by becoming a Patron.

1/23/19 – Trade Deadline and Andre Burakovsky

The Dallas Stars are in a weird spot heading into the final months of the season. With the trade deadline approaching the Stars feel like a team that needs to be active, and they seem like they will be prior to the February 25th deadline. They need help up front for sure, and they have the cap space to make a move right now. How realistic is it that they can make a big ticket acquisition that helps them now, but doesn’t hurt the franchise long term?

We have to start by acknowledging a few basic realities.

  • The Stars don’t trade first round picks.
  • The Stars are in a 3-way tie for the 7th seed with two teams on all of their tails.
  • The Stars are paying $12,000,000 for guys who haven’t really played this year.
  • The Stars need young cheap talent to fill in around Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin

If the Stars aren’t going to trade first round picks they likely aren’t going to play at the top end of the market, and they almost certainly wouldn’t for a rental without discussing an extension. It would make little sense for them long term given the need for cheap talent.

This need for cheap talent extends across the league, but for a team with two players tied up with mega deals the need is even more critical. Let us remember Ben Bishop is signed at close to five million until he’s 36. Alexander Radulov is over six million until he’s 35. This is the cost of doing business in the NHL, but they critically need cheaper talent to be good down the lineup to have sustained success.

Cheaper talent is exactly what teams are going to target in trades. Jason Dickinson, Denis Gurianov, and Jason Robertson are the type of guys teams are going to covet in return for good players. Julius Honka used to be one of those guys, but his value is almost certainly in the tank. Ditto Val Nichushkin.

If you’re the Stars the most sensible route for the near and long term is to find diamonds in the rough then hope putting them in a different environment helps. One of those types of Nichushkin himself, and given his salary a challenge type trade could make a lot of sense.

One name brought up recently is Andrei Burakovsky of the Washington Capitals. He’s going to make a reasonable salary during the 2020 season if he scores. If the Stars think he can score more with more of an opportunity to play he could make a lot of sense. Is Dallas the place that will give him that chance? Gurianov and Honka and the Stars track record of developing offensive talent would suggest no.

But, if the cost is reasonable Burakovsky is certainly worth the gamble. This is with only seven games tracked, buuuuuut check out how Burakovsky stacks up in Shot Contributions, Zone Entries, and Zone Exits per the data tracked by Corey Sznajder and visualized by CJ Turtoro.

Over several years the picture is essentially the same.

The kid can play. I don’t know if he can score, but I am fairly confident he could help the Stars generate more offense given an opportunity.

This is the type of value deal the Stars are likely going to need to look at. Trading massive pieces from the young talent pool is tempting, but long term I don’t know how good of an idea that is unless they’re acquiring long term fits under reasonable term. At the end of the day the kids need to play. Let them see what they can do. Pick up Burakovsky if the price is reasonable, but not at the expense of quality young talent capable of playing a regular shift inexpensively now.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.

1/19/19 – Jim Montgomery’s December Demeanor Shift

The Dallas Stars are a mess, and I keep wanting to understand why. I realize this is futile, but that has never stopped me before. So I decided to jump head first into the world of Jim Montgomery post game quotes to see if it is possible to see when things started going so wrong.

I’m not going to post 100 quotes from Montgomery here, though I did post a lot of them. The quotes make this post long. Sorry.

I did paste 95% of his post home game quotes into a Google Doc in case you’d like to read them. These are from after the home games – the games I get post game emails about so they’re the most easily accessible. Picking and choosing quotes for this story is by definition cherry-picking. That’s why I’m providing that link so you can see for yourself, and determine if I’m out of my mind.

Before I’m asked: yes, I notice the disproportionate amount of comments about Brett Ritchie. I’m going to get to that eventually. What also stands out is that Montgomery had a shift in public tone or demeanor somewhere in mid-December.

I’m not going to try to speculate about what happened because I have no idea. I don’t think that would be fair to anyone. I will say that the massive tonal shift is very obvious, and it would be naive to simply think nothing changed. You don’t go from praising a team and their leaders to, as an organization, calling the leaders fucking horseshit while talking about a culture of mediocrity without something happening.

We’ll start from opening night and go in chronological order.

10/4, 3-0 win over Arizona

“I liked the way we started the game and then I thought we kind of fell back a little bit.  The only part of the game where we need to get better at was the last eight minutes of the second period.  Once we were up 3-0, the air came out of our balloon and they really came at us.  If it wasn’t for (Ben) Bishop being so great, it could have been 3-3 at the end of the second.  That’s something we need to learn from and build on but overall our emotion, our effort and our execution was pretty good for game one.”

10/6, 5-1 win over Winnipeg

“Yeah, I mean, some of those plays I was just like ‘wow, Nelly [Todd Nelson], did you see that play? Did you see that goal?’ They were special tonight, but more importantly, as a team, I thought we were really good. I thought our puck pressure – I loved our start.

On Jamie Benn

“What I’ve really enjoyed about Jamie Benn in this short beginning of the season is how vocal he is and how accountable he’s holding people on the bench. His leadership has been very valuable.”

10/9, 7-4 loss to Toronto

“There is a lot of areas that we need to get better at. This is going to be a good learning experience for us. I thought our effort and our emotion was very good. Our execution wasn’t where it needed to be against a very good hockey club.”

Discussing if the top line was good enough against Toronto:

“Offensively yes. Defensively, they were out there for three goals, five-on-five, so no they’ve got to do a better job of shutting people down. Not only creating offense but not giving up momentum.”

10/13, 5-3 win over Anaheim

“I think we learned that we can change momentum in a game. I don’t think anybody was happy with our first period. In particular, we thought we were not playing with enough aggression in tough areas like our net front and our defensive zone. That being said, you have to give credit to our leaders. I don’t know what they did to change, but everything changed about face and that’s a credit to our leaders and everybody else who followed them.”

I feel like I should point out how often emotion, momentum, and effort are brought up. The leaders are praised for leading. Jamie Benn is praised for being vocal. Montgomery is providing criticism, but the tone feels like it’s coming from a good place.

10/19, 3-1 loss to Minnesota

“I just think that we have too many forwards in particular who aren’t confident offensively. And they’re not working hard enough to get to the greasy area. I thought Dubnyk saw too many shots from our point men. We did a good job getting it to our point men, but we’re not doing a good enough job fighting and clawing to take away his eyes and create more rebounds.”

10/23, 4-2 win over Los Angeles

“I thought the first twelve minutes, and then in the second period, there were a lot of opportunities. It was the mentality we wanted tonight. I thought we did a much better job tonight whether it was the puck carrier or people getting there for rebounds. I think it created a lot of scrambles that we hadn’t seen in our last three or four games.”

10/25, 5-2 win over Anaheim

“I thought, in tonight’s game, if you look at a picture of what Stars hockey should look like, that’s tonight.”

As of 10/25 the Stars, in Montgomery’s mind, were able to play the exact type of game he wants to see. 10/25.

11/8, 4-3 win over San Jose

“I think we’ve toughened up on the road trip and become resilient. A lot of people have confidence in other people which is good long-term. We’ve got to get better in our team game, we can’t continue to rely on goaltenders and the occasional goal to strike ahead. Clearly San Jose was better than we were tonight as a whole.”

On Roman Polak

“He’s probably a microcosm of what we’re looking at. He scrapes, he battles, he claws, he kicks and that’s what we’re doing as a team right now. It’s fun to be in the room because everyone is fighting for each other. We’ve got to keep building on that and improve our five-on-five game.”

11/10, 4-5 overtime loss to Nashville

“I thought we did. It’s been something that I thought has built with our team on the road trip, and it’s that we don’t stop fighting. We are getting production from a lot of people. It’s funny; remember in the first five games when everyone was worried about secondary scoring? It’s primary scoring now that is not where it needs to be.”

Oops.

11/12, 2-1 loss to Columbus

On Benn and Tyler Seguin

“No, I loved the way they competed tonight. Both of them. I thought it was the most passion and will, and if they keep playing that like we are going to be in a good place.”

Effort.

“But, I really like our effort. If our effort is like that, you know the execution is going to come because we have a lot of skill in that room.”

In six weeks they will be called fucking horseshit.

11/16, 1-0 win in overtime over Boston

“Something we’ve really improved upon this year is our commitment to playing through the game, no matter what the score is, and continuing to play hard in the third period. That escaped us early as three of the first ten games we lost was because of failures in the third period. That’s an area of our game that has really improved.”

11/23, 6-4 win over Ottawa

“I thought the top line got us going. They were on top of pucks and I thought this was Tyler Seguin’s best game since maybe our fourth game of the year. He was moving his feet, winning battles and he was reading on the forecheck. And, obviously, his shot. He was letting it go from everywhere.”

12/3, 4-1 win over Edmonton

“Jamie Benn has been phenomenal for, I’d say it’s been close to ten games now.  He’s really winning so many battles and we have a lot of people who are digging in.  I think Tyler Seguin is really picking up his game and when your best players are your hardest workers then you start to see your team build.  I think that’s what we’re seeing.  Because of that, all the other guys are following but a lot of them were already there like the Dickinson’s of the world and the Faksa’s and the Pitlick’s.  Now it seems like no matter who you name, I can say that person is bringing compete and they’re playing hard for their teammates.  The selflessness we’re seeing is starting to become contagious.”

12/7, 3-2 win over San Jose

“We found a pulse. We were bad in the first and thank god Ben Bishop was not. They are a really good transitional offensive team and we weren’t going through bodies. We weren’t getting pucks deep and we had a lot of turnovers and we just mentally were not sharp. I thought that was a carry-over from our morning skate which wasn’t very crisp.”

On the top line

“Yeah, you know what, they were just like the rest of the team; they got better as the game went on, but I didn’t think it was one of their better nights. I do think Jamie wasn’t himself, and I don’t think his vision was right, after he took that elbow in the eye. It was accidental, but he wasn’t stopping on pucks and didn’t seem to be around the puck as much as he usually is. And, the other two were just not what they usually are for us.”

This was the first post game mention of the morning skate I believe.

12/18, 2-0 win over Calgary

“There’s different times where you’ve got to recognize that you’re not playing with emotion. You have to play this game with emotion, but you can’t be emotional. I thought we had a real good balance of that tonight because even though we were in control in the first two periods, we weren’t that in control on the scoreboard.”

This is about where the tonal shift goes into high gear. It’s subtle at first and builds until December 27th when Sean Shapiro wrote that Montgomery told the team he was “fucking embarrassed” with their practice and place in the standings. He’s referencing a lack of energy and emotion more. No one is really being praised except Ben Bishop and of course Brett Ritchie (???).

12/20, 5-2 loss to Chicago

“I didn’t prepare them well enough as to what our details have to be on rush defense against a team that is a really good rush offense team.”

Pond hockey:

“It’s very frustrating, we didn’t have the right attitude. We had the right attitude against Calgary. We played a hard game, played the game the right way. But, we played pond hockey tonight, especially in the first 30 minutes and it cost us. We were down 3-0 for a reason.”

12/23, 3-1 loss to the Islanders

“Maybe after the first seven minutes we ran out of gas. I thought we skated the first seven minutes and then we were real bad.”

” We have to keep working. We have to keep working together. We have to get tougher. And that’s mentally, I’m talking about. Not so much the physicality on the ice, but they go hand in hand.”

“To me, it’s more a mindset. The product on the ice, obviously, the offensive side of the game is porous right now. To me, it’s a mindset of pushing the envelope and wanting to make plays, wanting to be a difference maker. Guys were tired tonight, but a lot of other teams have similar schedules and they find ways to win hockey games.”

12/29, 5-1 win over Detroit

“I think it’s too early to say we’re building anything. I think we’ve got to do it over a more extended period of time. In tonight’s win there were moments where we were a very good hockey team and there’s moments where we weren’t again. It’s not a consistent thing of how we’re playing together.”

This one sticks out to me because throughout the year Montgomery has tried to be upbeat and positive. The Stars just beat the shit out of Detroit, and this is the most enthusiasm he can muster. Score effects are real. This was also the day after Horseshit-Gate

1/2, 5-4 win over New Jersey

On Seguin:

“He’s been practicing really well lately and hasn’t been rewarded.  He got rewarded tonight and I thought it was his best game in a long time.  The way he was attacking the net and the way he was getting into shooting areas where he scores from.  He was getting inside the dots, his one-timers were from high quality areas instead of being towards the boards.”

On December 3rd he praised Seguin. That’s a stretch of about a month, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that over that time he still led the Stars in expected goals and shots with a low shooting percentage. Call it a hunch.

1/4, 2-1 overtime win against Washington

This is where the quotes feel bizarre.

“Our struggles come from when we have success. We get way too comfortable when we have games like we did tonight. That’s the history of our season and that’s really the history of the last three years. It’s not the road, it’s our mentality. We don’t change at the right times and our shifts are too long. Anytime we face adversity we don’t dig in we take short cuts. That’s why we’re an inconsistent hockey team. We’ve just got to keep harping on the details that we believe in. Keep harping on the process. We hope that, as a group, the leadership and the core guys are able to pull everybody in with them.”

Why is Montgomery talking about the last three years? That’s weird, right? He wasn’t here so the only way he’s getting that information is second hand at best. He spent a good part of the season praising the leaders, the emotion, and everything that goes with that, but now the team doesn’t dig in when they face adversity?

January 12th was the “culture of mediocrity” game. Those quotes are located here.

In early to mid December something changed. Whether Montgomery got tired of seeing similar threads in the games or something else I have no idea. But things clearly took a turn for the dark side about a week before Jim Lites publicly embarrassed the franchise.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.

1/17/19 – The Dallas Stars Can’t Enter The Offensive Zone

When I was looking into the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier I wanted to start getting into how the top teams in the league enter the zone. The Dallas Stars seem terrible at it. They aren’t really terrible at entering the zone, but what they do immediately after they enter the zone tends to be predictable and bad. They also aren’t particularly good at entering the zone with possession either. As with most things related to this team the Stars are good enough to be respectable, but can’t reasonably play with the big kids.

Why is it important to enter the zone with possession? From a statistical perspective it leads to more shots. NHL teams take about .66 shots per zone entry with possession of the puck. That drops to around .26 shots per entry when they dump the puck in. It may not seem like much, but it is. If a team dumped the puck in 100% of the time they would take about 40 less shots attempts per 100 entries compared to a team that always carried the puck in. If a team is shooting 5% on shot attempts we’re talking two to three goals difference on those 100 entries. Think about how many times a team enters the zone per game.

It’s a big deal.

The Stars are actually middle of the pack in possession entries per the data tracked by Corey Sznajder. I don’t think that accurately reflects how serious the problem is though. When you compare the Stars to most of the top teams in the league a pattern emerges.

Many of the better teams in the league are led in entries by their star talent, and many teams in the league have many players who would lead the Stars in controlled entries.
The Calgary Flames are a weird exception.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have four players who have more success entering the zone than the Stars top forward including two of their very best in Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Going back over Tampa Bay is a bit redundant. You get the point from this article. They’re way better. We get it.

Nashville Predators

Nashville has four skaters show up prior to Janmark. Among those are most of their key forwards.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose has five above Janmark. They also have seven of the top ten.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto: five before Janmark and seven of the top ten.

Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg has three before Janmark and six of the top ten.

Washington Capitals

Washington has three before Janmark before the Stars rattle some off, but the three ahead of Janmark are considerably ahead of him.

I have to reiterate that this is 10-15% of a season’s worth of data so far so these numbers could be worse, and to be honest I wouldn’t be shocked if they were. The Stars seem to be trending in the wrong direction with the eye test,

So yes, the Stars as a group are in the middle of the pack when it comes to entering the zone with possession. They do it without the top end entry ability of many of the better teams in the league. Watching the Los Angeles Kings and Jack Campbell (!!!!) gobble up the Stars tonight made this seem like a relevant post to get into the world.

This team is screwed unless they find out how to enter the zone more effectively soon.

Why not donate to the cause at our Patreon?

Follow us on Twitter.