2/16/18 – Jeep’s Blues

Thematically the St. Louis Blues team shares a lot with the musical genre from which they requisitioned their symbols and identity. You don’t want to get the blues. The blues represent being at your lowest point and depression. Pretty fitting for a 50 year old franchise with no Stanley Cups, eh?

Musically the blues are about creativity, improvisation, and setting a mood. Within the structure of a song the artists are encouraged to add their own personal touches to make it their own. That couldn’t be further from an appropriate description of the franchise. As a team they are tantalizingly boring.

Tonight’s game was more thematically blues than musically. It was depressing for the most part and most of the night I wondered why I was suffering through it and what I needed to change about my life to make things better. It’s great that the Stars won, but boy that was awful.

How about some thoughts? Everybody likes thoughts.

1. I kept thinking the Stars could use another dynamic skating defenseman. Julius Honka does a lot of that, but I think I’m officially spoiled on Miro Heiskanen after watching one game. His skill set so perfectly fits the Stars.

2. Stephen Johns is an adult. I expected Ken Hitchcock, Rick Wilson, and a more structured system to have a big impact on him. This is ridiculous though.

3. St. Louis collapses SO HARD defensively. Early in the game Gemel Smith set up Jason Spezza in tight on an odd man rush. I thought if he stopped the Stars would’ve had a ton of room to work.

A few shifts later Spezza carries it in. He did stop. He immediately had a 15 foot radius of space and a ton of time. The Stars got a few other chances from it later. The John Klingberg power play shot off the post comes to mind.

4. A two goal lead with 4:18 to go in a February divisional game with the team right ahead of you and the worst thing you can possibly do is take a double minor. Klingberg accidentally did it.

The Stars gave up only one goal, but the chances were coming. Tyler Pitlick in particular made a great save. Ben Bishop was great. It was nice to not be terrified of the inevitable coming goal.

5. The boring Hitchcock memes write themselves when his two most recent teams play, don’t they?

Hey, click these:

2/14/18 – An Evening With Miro Heiskanen, Day 1
2/13/18 – Quote or Content: What Drives a Story?
2/12/18 – Jamie Goligoski
2/8/18 – Team USA Men Would Have Been Really Good
2/6/18 – Jaromir Jagr and Tom Brady

2/6/18 – .insert(“Really Bad Chess Pun”);

Henrik Lundqvist could’ve been a Star. I think about this whenever the Rangers come to town. He was almost a Stars 7th round pick a million years ago. How much different would things be?

Optimistic me pictures Lundqvist winding down his long Stars career after multiple Stanley Cups with Jamie Benn and making all alumni games exponentially more handsome. Realistic me realizes he would have found a new team due to the #PeskyStars inability to pay him during bankruptcy hell.

One fortuitous pick changed so much for both of these franchises. Ben Bishop, Kari Lehtonen, and Antti Niemi never make it to Dallas. What happens with Lundqvist vs Marty Turco? The Stars cap situation looks much more muddled off and on in the aughts.

Most importantly we would have a picture of Lundqvist in a Mooterus.

Lundqvist was really good tonight. The Stars peppered him with shots with ease.

Selective

Me, an adult: I think of a lot of things in terms of video games of various quality. If I were watching this game as the General Manager/Coach of the Stars in EHM and saw all of those shots going for nothing I would have lost my mind and switched to selective shooting. The Stars had to be getting frustrated with so many good looks being thrown aside by King Henrik, but to their credit they didn’t show it.

***

“It didn’t feel like we were dominating. It felt like we were getting a lot of shots but it didn’t feel like we were dominating. We had some point blanks but they were getting chances too. At the end of the night there isn’t going to be much difference in the scoring chances. I know there was a big difference in the shots but I don’t think there was much difference in scoring chances. “  — Ken Hitchcock on tonight’s game

I mean…

Rangers

There is no reason for Hitch to bury a team they beat 2-1 in the media, but they were pretty clearly the better team. That’s the even strength expected goals chart from Corsica.hockey.

The Corsi chart isn’t much prettier for Team Kasparitis. In the second period the Rangers got tied to some train tracks with no one around for miles to save them with a locomotive bearing down on them.

RangersCorsi

I’d be curious to see if the Stars changed a matchup in the second with the long change to exploit something the Rangers were doing. Hitchcock made reference to a change with Radek Faksa’s group:

“We weren’t really bringing them in, in a checking role until they made a switch on their line and then they had a job to do. …For me, they negated three really good hockey players. They still got their licks in, some of those players, but that line did some damage themselves. They made them defend more than they wanted to.”

I wonder if that change is the one that turned the tide further in the Stars direction at even strength in the 2nd.

***

This was one of the rare games on the NHL schedule where we have the opportunity to lament the fact that the NHL has robbed us of two great hyphenated names. We still get to hear Ryan Nugent-Hopkins regularly, but when the Rangers meet up with the Stars it’s hard not to think about Mattias Janmark-Nylen and Mats Zuccarello Aasen.

Bonus points for Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson not being a thing anymore either.

***

My favorite Stars-related Tweet of the night:

***

And finally the NHL is doing all of us a disservice. Here.

This was Tyler Seguin’s 26th goal of the season. The full play was probably 30-45 seconds long and included Alexander Radulov single-handedly running his own forecheck, John Klingberg making a filthy pass at the blueline to Esa Lindell, and the Jason Spezza pass seen to set up the goal. If you can find the full clip do yourself a favor and watch it.

Hey, click these

2/5/18 – Mooterart From Around the Internet
2/5/18 – Tyler Seguin’s 25th goal
2/4/18 – A Hockey Rink is a Hockey Rink and a Game is a Game
2/3/18 – The Conservative NHL and Mooterus Culture
2/2/18 – A New Hope