Tonight we play the Dallas Stars. This game is a rematch from the November 18th meeting in which Dennis LaRue had the play blown dead before the puck had left Brad May’s stick to go in the net…or something like that. No apologies from the league on that one. And I didn’t check, but I’m sure they didn’t say “I’m sorry” for the two goals they robbed from us on Friday night against the Flames. Yeah, I’m still bitter. If the play-offs started today, the Wings would be hitting the golf course and I would be hitting the booze…hard. They currently sit 3 points out of a play-off spot, though they have played two less games than the 8th seed currently occupied by the NHL-owned, Phoenix Coyotes. So as a direct result of blown calls by NHL officials, the Red Wings are behind a team in the standings whom so happens to be owned by the NHL? Weird, I know.
As I said two Thursdays ago, Dallas doesn’t boast superstars in any one position, really. Anyone who wants to call Mike Ribiero a superstar… 1. Probably doesn’t read this blog, b. needs to put the OJ/paint thinner cocktail down, iii. Is an idiot. The Stars currently sit at an impressive 8th place in the league as far as G/G average with 3.00. Detroit’s November has definitely been one we would all love to forget. The cold winds of February were blowing three months too early this year as we can only pray that we’ve seen the worst from the Red Wings this season. Of course, having legitimate goals waived off, called back, and blown dead early hasn’t helped, but Detroit has nonetheless slipped 17th overall in the league with a meager 2.76 G*/G average. Advantage: Dallas
So last time that the Wings played Dallas, I harped in the pre-game about how much we owned Marty Turco. I pretty much had this game already chalked into the win column by the mere fact that Marty and his disgusting gold pads would be in between the pipes. Well, Marc Crawford actually did something unexpected and started his gargantuan back-up, starting a trend that some would follow with success. Who plays tonight? We’ll have to wait and see. Dallas currently ranks 13th in the league with a 2.77 G/A average. The Wings, despite their god-awful scoring drought that was finally snapped on Saturday, have been playing relatively good defense. However, they’re still sitting 17th in the league with a 2.80 G/A average. Advantage: Dallas, but not by much.
Dallas’ mediocre offense has yielded decent, though not staggering numbers on the power play. The Stars have improved their PP since November 18th, and are currently converting 21.0% of the PP chances, which is good enough for 14th overall in the NHL. Detroit's power play has really struggled despite getting numerous opportunities during their November slide. The second unit has hardly produced anything more than goals that get called back and Datsyuk and Zetterberg have also struggled. Despite recent problems, Detroit’s PP is currently 9th best with a 22.1% conversion rate. Advantage: Detroit.
Ah, penalty killing, is there a bigger woe for Detroit right now outside of injuries? I think I speak for all Detroit fans when I say that we would be absolutely tickled pink if we even had a decent PK squad right now. Dallas is currently ranked 21st in the NHL, with a 78.0% effectiveness rating. With the likes of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kris Draper, and Darren Helm, it is pure insanity that the Wings are so ineffective at killing off penalties. Why has nothing been done to correct this?. They are currently ranked 28h in the league with a 75.6% kill rate. Advantage: Dallas
So if we pull ranks and take the average for GA/G and G/G...
If you combine PK and PP percentages to get an overall effectiveness rating:
The key for a Red Wing's victory tonight will be to capitalize on their chances. Detroit may be launching a ton of shots on the competition, but unscreened wrist shots from the point, though effective against Dominik Hasek, don’t count for scoring chances. The Red Wings need to get their point shots through the traffic and win the one-on-one battles in the trenches in front of the Dallas net. There have been far too many shots being blocked while not enough shots blocked in our own end. Video coach? You might want to address that.
So far, Dallas has won the only meeting between the two, though they had help from the men in black and white. No, I will not let it go.