Monday, January 23, 2017

Cowboys Ponder Their Own Free Agents

http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/01/23/sturm-cowboys-ponder-future-free-agents

Checking In On The Dallas Stars

We certainly haven't spent much time on the Stars here on the blog, but with all of the TV time dedicated to them it seemed like a fair time to check the bad news.  And there is considerable bad news for where this team presently sits in the standings.  Their season is in a very disappointing spot after 48 games with just 47 points and only 19 wins.

There are a number of reasons for this, but they are currently around a 16% chance of post-season play this spring, which seems about 80% lower than we assumed when the puck dropped on the year.

Can it be saved?  Sure.  But, with each passing performance, it seems clear that the hockey being played in no way resembles the hockey they put out there for much of last season.  We can speculate what is health, what is poor roster assembly, and what is just poor performances from players, but the facts add up to some very disconcerting views that I tried to express on these following graphics.

They are each a look from a monthly perspective, the downward trends in 4 vitally important metrics that all look rather similar:

POWER PLAY BY MONTH - OCT 2015 - JAN 2017



PENALTY KILL BY MONTH - OCT 2015 - JAN 2017



CORSI PERCENTAGE BY MONTH - OCT 2015 - JAN 2017


SAVE PERCENTAGE BY MONTH - OCT 2015 - JAN 2017


All of them have a similar trend, but I am positive some of you are wondering what the rankings are to verify they have gone from a very good NHL team that won the West last year to a team that has a 16% chance of making the Top 8 in the West this year.

So, here are the rankings for each of those 4 vital metrics:


This chart will show you why many of us don't always point at goaltending as the issue.  They won the west last year with saves at 25th.  They had a style and won with it and were one game from the Western Conference Finals.  I am not saying you should aspire to have poor goalies, but they figured out how to deal with it.

The issues are rather clear.  They were Top 3 in puck possession and now are 18th.  They were 4th in Power Play and are now 19th.  They were 10th in penalty kill and are now one game from 30th.  These are their issues.  And the puck possession and power play speak to the old cliches about "your best players - and highest compensated players - must be your best players".  

Simply put, they don't "boss games" anymore.  They don't take over with their special players.  Again, there may be health considerations and supporting cast issues, but when you look at this whole thing is built around that dominant 5 of Klingberg, Spezza, Benn, Seguin, and whoever joins them as a 5th on the Top PP unit (Sharp, Eaves, Eakin) that seems to be a heavy reason for the state of affairs.  

And perhaps it starts with asking Esa Lindell to replace Alex Goligoski to make sure Benn, Seguin, and Spezza have the puck more.  But, regardless, the numbers above show that regardless of WHY it has happened, it has happened.  The Stars spot in the league was Top 5 when it was also Top 5 in power play and puck possession.  

But, when both fell from Top 5 to 18th and 19th, so did the Stars spot in the standings.  Nearly identically.  

It certainly makes you feel the ominous clouds coming with regards to a significant shake-up to try to save this season.