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6 Thoughts on Stars-Ducks
Dallas defeated Anaheim in the shootout 3-2
Ahh, after the All-Star Break it was nice to watch some real hockey.
The Dallas Stars defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in a shootout.
These are my thoughts, locked for paid subscribers for 24 hours and will be unlocked for all tomorrow evening.
1. Jamie Benn played his 1,000th NHL game on Monday.
It’s a well-known story, but it’s worth pointing out again how much of a value pick Benn was from 2007 NHL draft.
A fifth-round pick, 129th overall, Benn is second behind only Patrick Kane when it comes to points from his draft class.
Here’s the top-10 heading into Monday night.
The fact Benn has reached 1,000 NHL games with one team is also notable, he’s the 76th player in NHL history to do it with one franchise.
Benn has had a very odd career.
There have been some highs, the Art Ross win in the regular season finale is an all-time Stars highlight, and some odd lows. It’s hard to find a home-grown player that’s ever been publicly dragged the way Benn was in Dec. 2018 by ownership.
Things are going well this season, but I’m sure Tom Gaglardi never thought he’d be issuing Benn a congratulatory quote in a press release four years after he order Jim Lites to give a motivational bomb to this reporter.
Benn this season is playing less and producing more. His minutes have been cut strategically by Pete DeBoer, and Benn has co-signed the decision.
Benn’s leadership, and his willingness to embrace that decision, have helped DeBoer in his first year in Dallas. As DeBoer told me earlier this week, there aren’t many captains in the NHL who would willingly put aside the ego and accept placement on a third-line with a 19-year-old rookie without question.
2. Some quick thoughts on the shootout.
Jason Robertson’s shot was incredibly deceptive and wonderful. The way he carries the puck so nonchalantly and then can flip the wrist in a second is all-pro stuff.
Trevor Zegras needs to mix in a shot on his shootouts at some point. Goalies know he’ll deke, he needs to add the shot every once in a while to make his dekes more effective.
I really liked Tyler Seguin going in with speed on the deciding goal. After two slower attempts by Robertson and Joe Pavelski, it was like a pitcher dialing it up to 100 after throwing a couple changeups.
3. The third period felt like the old “play-to-the-score” Stars.
After crushing the Ducks territorially and possession wise for 40 minutes, the Stars tried to coast to the finish.
It’s been less common under this regime, but it’s still part of the fabric of the franchise that the Stars have to reverse.
Changing that identity in the long run is important, and on Monday it cost the Stars a regulation win.
4. It was a typical Stars-Ducks game from a goaltending perspective.
John Gibson was great and overworked, he kept the game closer than it should have been.
The Stars had more expected goals in the both the first and second periods than the Ducks had through the first 40 minute combined.
In total, the Stars had 4.99 expected goals in regulation, the Ducks had just 2.3.
The only thing missing from the classic Gibson vs. the Stars performance was the third period breaking point, often after a frustrating goal against with awful defensive coverage in front of him, where Gibson just stares into the void and wonders, '“Why?”
(Editor’s note: that actually happened. It just didn’t happen after a goal against.)
On the other end of things, Jake Oettinger had a pretty smooth and much easier night turning away 33 shots.
Oettinger should have been at the NHL All-Star Game this past weekend. He wasn’t, and honestly it likely only drives the young goalie.
Oettinger has a very calm demeanor, but underneath that front, he’s a very vengeful and driven goalie. He embraces being the blackout, the bad guy — he loves playing on the road — and he takes slights against him to heart.
5. It was fitting that Nils Lundkvist scored and in John Klingberg’s return to Dallas.
When the Stars made the decision to let Klingberg walk in free agency, Lundkvist was brought in as younger, right-handed Swedish replacement via trade.
Lundkvist has also been the center of fan-driven discourse this season. But instead of it featuring fans arguing with each other about the merits of the defender, its fans voicing frustrations with DeBoer over some recent healthy scratches.
I was in South Florida last week for the NHL All-Star Game and asked DeBoer about Lundkvist’s growth this season.
“Unlike Wyatt Johnston, Nils is going through what 95% of the the young players that come into this league go through and that's some growing pains and you know, there's some great stretches and there's some stretches where your play drops off,” DeBoer said. “And especially for young defenseman, but when you look at it, you know, there is production there he is playing a good amount of minutes every night. You know, there is responsibility. He's been given both on the second power play unit at different points in the game. I think he's just getting better and better. This is going to pay off. He's going to be a good defenseman in this league for a long time.”
The early goal was just an exclamation point on an overall strong game for Lundkvist.
6. Klingberg got a point against his former team, but overall things have gone poorly for him in Anaheim.
He’s on pace for 30 points, by far a career-low for normal (read 82-game) season.
But he’ll still likely get traded within the next three weeks. This was always the plan.
The Ducks knew they were buying a draft pick or two with Klingberg and he was buying a chance to get the long-term deal he wanted in the summer of 2023.
The Ducks will still get their pick, but it won’t be nearly as high as it would have been if Klingberg had taken off. Klingberg, unfortunately for him, won’t get the big deal after this showing.
Klingberg has already submitted his 10-team no-trade list to the Ducks. Klingberg can also accept a trade to a team on that list, and honestly as long as a team is in playoff position I have a feeling Klingberg would accept the deal — he understands the business of how a playoff run will help his bottom line.