Words I am getting tired of finding new ways to type:
A night after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in a complete team effort on the road, the Dallas Stars play yet another clunker in front of the home crowd this time falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. This time they found a new way to lose however; instead of playing flat not executing, the Stars were actually too aggressive. Focusing more on physicality, fighting and retribution the Stars found themselves in major penalty trouble, allowing three power play goals in one hell of a letdown loss.
The big talking point from this game is going to surround James Neal's boarding major and subsequent game misconduct. The Stars were down 2-0 at that point and were putting good pressure on Steve Mason and the Blue Jackets. Yet a five minute power play for Columbus turned into two power play goals and the game was suddenly out of reach. Neal received the major for boarding when he hit Derek Dorsett from behind, causing him to hit his head on the glass and immediately collapse. It wasn't an overly vicious hit, but the aftermath of the hit certainly led to the penalty call by the referees.
Now I'm all for punishment for hits to the head and I want to protect the players as much as possible; but the NHL cannot punish based on injury. It's what led to the inconsistent punishment between the Scuderi and Ott hits a few weeks back, and it's just going to continue. Now, before anyone attacks me on this I do agree that Neal deserved a penalty on the hit. But the NHL has taken a stand on boarding and this is the result.
The Stars put a lot of energy into fights and physicality in the first period, and this was the first game all season I've really seen the players come to each other's aid like that. It was good to see the Stars finally show some attitude but in this game, when the team is on the second of a back to back and needs all the energy they can muster, it was a bit misplaced. The game got out of hand with three early fights, cross checks and 44 penalty minutes in the first period. The Stars failed to take advantage of the power plays afforded them, and a short handed goal with a second remaining in the first was a back-breaker. Lots of energy, lots of spunk...and a two goal deficit.
The Stars keep finding new ways to lose. Tonight the team became a bit unglued and frustrated and the special teams failed miserably. Steve Mason having a monster night in net for the Blue Jackets didn't help either, as he stopped any momentum the Stars tried to build throughout the game with big save after big save.
The Stars next face the New Jersey Devils, the NHL's best road team, in a big game on Saturday. If the pattern hold true, the Stars should have no problems.
We'll have much more on this game tomorrow.