After a seemingly interminable week of no hockey – between the bye week and the All-Star break – Stars hockey is back. The question was whether the Stars would manage to find some offense?
The answer to the question: kind of.
Rick Bowness had supposedly spent the bye week binge-watching tape in order to find ways for the Stars to generate some offense. His solution appeared to be something of a hockey cliche – put more pucks on net, particularly from defensemen at the blue line and high slot, generating rebound chances which the forward core could then mop up. With a goalkeeper as good as Andrei Vasilevskiy, however, rebound chances are always going to be limited so this strategy met with limited success.
The Lightning were architects of their own defeat, in the end, no team that gives up as many odd-man rushes as they did in Dallas can realistically expect to win a hockey game, no matter how good their goalie.
A point of controversy among Stars fans of late, which continued last night, has been the utilization of rookie forward Denis Gurianov. Despite being only 3 behind the lead for goals scored the talented young Russian is 10th in ice time over the season.
This pattern continued last night, despite getting the first goal, Gurianov was 8th in overall ice time at the end of the second period and 10th by the end of the third, even though Roope Hintz was injured only 20 seconds into his first shift. Gurianov didn’t have a single shift in the last 12 minutes of the game, although the Stars were down to 10 forwards and had only a single goal lead, a lead they lost in the dying seconds of the game when Tampa pulled their goalie for the extra attacker.
Gurianov is one of the weaker forwards defensively, an area of the game he undoubtedly needs to develop, but the prioritizing defense at all costs mentality – deploying the FCC line in every possible situation, in particular, may prove costly in the long run.
Just before the break Alan Vigneault was interviewed at the end of the Flyers/Penguins game. The quote stuck in my head…
“If you want your young players to develop you have to trust them and put them out there.”
It would be a mantra that would be wise for Rick Bowness to pick up too.
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