Some people might tell you this was bound to happen. After (what I can only assume was a league best) points in their first seven road games of the season, the Stars finally came home pointless after giving up a lead twice against the Predators Saturday night. Points in seven straight road games is nothing to sneeze at, and perhaps it was bound to happen, but not like that. I challenge you to find a more abysmal period of Dallas Stars hockey this year than that third period last night.
The Stars simply did not get an acceptable effort from their best players. The Ribeiro trio continued their recent trend of being an automatic minus when they take the ice, and the Brad Richards line just didn't have that tenacity we've come to expect this year. That includes James Neal. If even "The Real Deal" doesn't have energy, it does not bode well for the rest of the team. We love Sutherby when he plays like that, but when he's your best player you have some issues.
Alex Auld watched his team get beat to every loose puck and lose every battle, and kept them in it as long as he could. He was heavily screened on three of the four goals, and the third Nashville tally was just an embarrassing shift for the team. Auld battled hard in that sequence and the Stars just refused to help him. It looked like one team had skates on and the other was wearing tennis shoes.
While a commendable effort from Alex last night, I'd still like to get Marty Turco back in the net ASAP. His puck handling is a game changer and the defense feeds off it sometimes. Turco had played well in recent weeks and let's hope his flu like symptoms clear up in time for Wednesday's contest.
Meanwhile the Coyotes improved to 4-0 when their games go to OT last night. That's the difference in the division right now.
After the jump, quotes and reaction from across those internets...
Let's start with the recognition that the difference between good and bad in this league isn't that much anymore. As much as I'd love to say these were horrible teams (Toronto, Florida, Nashville) the Stars just went 1-1-1 against, I'm not sure I can. I think the teams that get points are the teams that make the right plays at the right time.
I don't know. I can see where Toronto is playing better now, and the Florida game was nuts, but the Nashville game they should have won in my eyes. They are by far the more talented group.
The growing pile of minus games for the Ribeiro line is becoming concern. Richard Durrett wonders if change is needed:
Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro were minus-2 in the 4-2 Nashville loss on Saturday. They combined to go minus-3 against Florida. It just seems like the last few games that when the opponent scores, those guys are on the ice.
So what coach Marc Crawford do about it? Jamie Benn has played well, but do you move him off that line? If so, what do you do with him?
One possibility is to put Jere Lehtinen on that line when he returns from injury and see if that helps calm Morrow and Ribeiro down and gets them going again. I don't know. But something has to change for that group.
...But they sensed that the Stars, who'd played a home game the previous night, were tiring, and they suspected if they kept pressuring the Dallas net, good things would happen.
Sure enough, the Predators poured 13 shots on Stars goalie Alex Auld over the final period, clogged the Dallas crease with traffic and engineered a three-goal rally that produced a 4-2 victory.
A Sommet Center crowd of 12,520 fans saw the Predators put together their first three-game winning streak of the season and capture their fourth victory in the past five games.
Tiring is right. That's no excuse, but that's the way it looked. Also...12,520 is a rather generous count from the looks of things on television.
"We thought that we were really taking the play to them so there was really no doubt in our minds that this game was ours for the taking," Sullivan said.
"For the first time in 10 games, I got it right on my stick," Hornqvist said. "It was nice to get a goal again, and if we can keep playing like that we are going to have success the whole year."
Klein put the Predators in front 4-2 at 11:42 with a slap shot through traffic from the right point.
"If you look at all of the goals, there is one common theme that there was someone right in front of the net," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Goals are hard to come by, you have to go to the hard places, and guys did."
Do you realize the Predators have won 3 in a row, and 4 of 5? Things the Stars haven't even come close to doing. Prepare to root for Nashville next week as they embark on the California road swing.
"They made us pay tonight when we didn’t execute," said Stars head coach Marc Crawford. "That was a funny type of third period; you couldn’t say that we played bad and there weren’t any big mistakes. They had a couple good shots and they were going to the net pretty hard. Their goalie made a couple big saves and they earned their goals tonight."
I'm sure he's seen the video since then.
Here's Marc Crawford on Ribeiro's trouble on the 5-on-3 power play late in the second period when Jerred Smithson broke his stick and the Stars still weren't able to score:
``That was probably the turning point of the game,'' Crawford said. ``Mike Ribeiro had probably three or four chances to make the play, and he didn't make them. That's why he's on the power play and that's why we have that position, because we have confidence that he's going to make those plays most of the time. It wasn't that he didn't try or didn't see the play, he just couldn't make it.''
Overall, this was a so-so week for the Stars, who went 1-1-1 and the record reflected their play. There were some ups and downs. They are still a work in progress.
But if you look at the month of October as a whole, it’s been a good one for the Stars. They’ve picked up points in 11 of 14 games and have 17 of a possible 28 points for a solid .607 points percentage. We learned a year ago how important the start to the season can be, and the first month has been pretty good this time around.
If you had told me the Stars would have 17 points on November 1st before the season started, I probably would have been content with that. Not thrilled, but certainly content.
Dallas will practice in McKinney at the new Dr. Pepper Star Center Monday morning. They have three days off before facing Calgary at home on Wednesday, where they will likely get some combination of Mike Modano,Jere Lehtinen or Marty Turco back in the lineup.