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Jarret Stoll and transition defense against the Stars

Reputations are hard to shake. Just ask Jarrett Stoll, who has been on a mission to prove that he's not the defensive wonder-vet that most everybody insists he is.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In order to have any semblance of hope against the Stars in this series, the Wild need to play a nearly perfect game through the neutral zone. The first step to this would be to eliminate any neutral zone turnovers, as a team with the speed and skill of Dallas feasts on transition chances. This was clearly evident in Dallas' first goal against the Wild in Game 1.

The Wild gain possession of the puck in their own end and Jarrett Stoll carries it out of the zone. The Wild have a numbers advantage here if Dumba decides to join the rush, which, let's be honest, of course Dumba is going to join the rush. Ales Hemsky gambles at center ice and skates directly at Stoll who still has the puck. This should be good news for Stoll, who can now simply chip the puck around Hemsky to Ryan Carter and set the Wild up for an odd-man rush. Instead, Stoll puts the puck right on Hemsky's stick.

It's incredible that it took three seconds to go from the above screenshot to the one below.

Now it's time for some transition defense. The Wild are relatively ok here as Hemsky enters the zone. Dumba and Prosser are on the defensive side of the puck and Stoll simply needs to recognize the trailing man (Faksa, who is two feet behind him), and pick him up on the rush. It's Stoll's only job here. There is no reason for him to get back to try and help Dumba. Prosser does a good job cutting off Hemsky's angle to the net and forcing him to stop up. Jamie Benn clearly is headed to the front of the net, and so Dumba is in fine position to interrupt any pass to that area. That just leaves savvy veteran Jarrett Stoll. Stoll was focused so hard on getting back to help on defense, he didn't once check over his shoulder for the trailing Dallas player. 

Not surprisingly, Hemsky found the trailing Radek Faksa and he made no mistake beating Dubnyk.

Here's the entire sequence:

The cherry on top of this crap-defense sundae is that instead of trying to get his stick in the way of the Faksa one-timer, Stoll attempts to play goalie. Thus allowing Stoll to play every position but his own on this defensive play.

The job of the first forward back in transition defense is always to identify and pick up the third man in on the rush. It was clear from a second after the turnover happened that the two Wild defenseman were in position to defend on Hemsky and Benn. There is just no excuse for Stoll to fail to recognize his assignment in transition. Of course, Stoll went on to play more minutes than Nino Niederreiter and will no doubt be back in the lineup for Game 2.