The Stars’ power play has been a topic of discussion all season – it has been hot and cold and has been the focal point for many of the team’s wins and many of their losses this season.
Something that is often ignored about the Stars’ power play is how few opportunities the team has gotten this season. Currently, the Stars sit 27th in opponent penalty minutes. Last season, the Stars ended in 6th in the same category with 785. The team is on pace for 611 opponent penalty minutes, a whopping 174 difference, if you assume that they were all two-minute minors, that is an additional 87 penalty difference. Fortunately for the Stars, they also are in the bottom half of penalty minutes.
Hockey is an imperfect game officiated by imperfect people so it is always possible this is just some bad luck for the Stars. Blaming the quality of officiating in the NHL is always popular among fans, but that is a discussion best left for social media. Instead, let us look at some other factors as to why Dallas’s power play does not get more opportunities. Playing nice with the guys in black and white is one such factor.
Unfortunately for some of the Stars players, it would seem their reputation has a major impact on the referees awarding penalties, either for or against them. Roman Polak and Alexander Radulov are the two main players for the Stars who seem to be the most penalized and least likely to draw a penalty on the other team, at least partially due to their reputation. Both players seem to draw the eye of the officials due to their aggressive play style and their willingness to express their displeasure at a certain call or lack thereof. It is unlikely either will change their ways and so their inability to get calls will most likely continue due to this, sadly.
It is not something you can ask them to change either for you never want their relentless and physical play style to be sacrificed for a subjective decision by a human being.
While Radulov and Polak seem to have a bad reputation among the zebras, having no reputation can be just as debilitating to the cause. The Stars young, developing talent have yet to really establish themselves in the league, so they don’t get the benefit that you will see veteran players around the league get, such as Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. It works on both ends, drawing the penalty and being called for one. Hintz and his relentless style especially should yield more power plays because of his gritty style of going and fighting for the puck along the boards. Paying your dues in the league seems to be required to get calls in the NHL, whether it is fair or not, is another discussion.
No one likes diving in sports (outside of swimmers, of course). No player worth their weight in salt should dive, for it is an attempt to deceive the officials to gain a benefit for your team. The Stars though seem to consistently be on the opposite end of diving. Instead of going down and potentially getting a well deserved penalty, the players will fight through it and try to win the puck along the boards. It is admirable, but at the same time can be damaging for the ref may conclude no foul was actually committed. If there was, surely there would be evidence of damage done.
It is a fine line to walk and is no easy feat to tell a player to go down or let go of their stick if they are fouled. Push it too far, you get embellishment calls and the power play turns into a 4-on-4. It is an art that is difficult to master, but success in doing so can lead to difference makers in not only a game, but a season. Unfortunately, seven of the Stars next eight opponents all take less penalties than Dallas. Power play opportunities will likely come at a premium for the Stars and taking advantage of these chances could mean the difference between leaving with two points and leaving with none.
Referees are human beings. They have good nights and they have bad nights. Small adjustments to your game can help them make the right decision or at least a decision that is in your favor potentially swinging the game to the Stars direction. Hockey has never claimed to be a fair game, so doing whatever you can to give yourself an advantage, within the rules, becomes almost necessary. Dallas’s power play has the ability and talent to win them games when given chances. The problem for the Stars is they are not getting enough chances.
The playoff standings are growing tighter and tighter and with goal scoring still being an issue, Dallas will need every advantage they can get their hands on to ensure they’re playing into late April.
Featured Image; My Plainvivew, LM Otero, AP All Stats from Foxsports.com