This wasn't the worst game from the Stars we've seen them play this season, lets be clear about that. Truth be told I don't know if we can even really count this as a game the Dallas Stars played because for the first fifty minutes on Denver ice tonight, they simply went through the motions as an emotionless team of drones. The last ten they maybe showed a little bit of life, but by then it was far too late as they fell to a much more confident and harder working Colorado Avalanche team by a score of 4-1.
No Morrow in the lineup and no Turco in net, both due to illness... The rest of the team save for perhaps Tom Wandell, Jeff Woywitka and Alex Auld didn't fare much better. Meanwhile the Avalanche got a solid effort from Peter Budaj in goal and while they didn't play much better themselves, they were led offensively by Chris Stewart and Wojtek Wolski and that was more than enough to get past Dallas on this night.
Credit Colorado for playing a very smart game on this night. They didn't do anything to stir the Stars emotions or engage them much in the physical side of things because they really didn't need to. If you had to compare this game to anything, imagine the Avalanche as a parent trying to take a toy away from the arms of a sleeping child. If you can do it quietly and quickly enough without bothering the kid too much, then you'll be fine and come away with the toy. If you cause too much of a ruckus, the child will awake and then you'll have a fight on your hands that you may not end up winning.
Tonight the Avalanche just let the kid sleep away.
Before the Christmas break we had four decent efforts from the Stars on the ice and while the end results were still a mixed bag, we as fans could at least say the Stars were playing hard and smart hockey. That was not the case tonight as the Stars came out flat, fell behind early in the game, stayed flat through the second and except for a brief shining moment in the middle of the third period where we thought maybe the Stars would fully wake up, they finished flat.
Yes the score sheet says they outshot the Avs 41-32 but most of those shots were of the "from distance" and "at Budaj's chest" variety - and honestly I'm wondering if the guy keeping stats there in Colorado didn't have a little too much egg nog as it sure didn't seem like there were actually 41 Dallas shots.
Yes the score sheet says the Stars actually won two more faceoffs in the game than the Avalanche, but they were only 50% (9 of 18) in the offensive zone and a horrid 38% (5 of 13) in their own zone... So lets just say faceoffs are still an issue for this team.
They didn't play hard enough to force the Avalanche to take any penalties - granted the refs tagged Adam Foote for holding at the end of the firts period, but upon further review that was the chintziest of chintzy calls.
The Stars did do a good job when faced with a 45 second 3 on 5 penalty kill like they had in the second period by keeping the Avs to the outside of the zone and only allowing one shot in that entire penalty kill, so we'll give them credit for that. It's the kind of moment in a game where you'd assume the team would draw inspiration from and start to rally, but that just didn't happen.
While we are handing out kudos, we should give them to Jeff Woywitka who had his best game of the season tonight - not that it's saying much, but still six shots on goal (would have been seven if one hadn't been blocked) and three hits is a pretty nice night from a guy who saw third line defense minutes. Tom Wandell also deserves some love for playing yet another hard working game that has become typical for him.
Sure we could even give some credit to Steve Ott, Mike Ribiero and Jere Lehtinen who combined for the lone Dallas goal on the night... Theye were maybe the only three forwards who did any real kind of occasional forechecking in the game and while most night's I'd say they didn't have an exceptionally great game effort wise, on a night like tonight they were sadly the best forwards the Stars had.
Alex Auld wasn't great in net tonight, but he wasn't half bad either... He pretty much mirrored his team's effort tonight. It was a 'meh' kind of game where it just seemed the Stars wanted to be anywhere other than the Pepsi Center.
Maybe it was the tryptophan from all the turkey they ate... Maybe the flight the day of the game didn't agree with them... Whatever the reason, the Dallas Stars on any other night could have taken two points from what would have been a winable game, but on this night they just didn't muster up the energy to take it.