Oh you sneaky Dallas Stars... I'm on to you now! I finally figured out what your modus operandi is for this season!
You see I have it on good authority that a grade six kid in Plano last year did a school report on the possibility of an NHL team going an entire season playing nothing but overtime games and if they could make the playoffs with 82 overtime and shootout losses. The kid then forwarded his report (it got a B-minus by the way) to Marc Crawford before the start of training camp, and Crow being the ever inquisitive mind, figured "Why the hell not? I have three years on my contract, I can waste one."
Of course you Dallas Stars have kind of messed it up with the odd win in overtime and even once in a while *gasp* an odd regulation win... But you've pretty much stayed true to form and you keep losing in overtime and shootouts.
I'm on to you Stars. Oh boy, I am so on to you guys and while I tip my hat for such dedication to a cause, if you don't mind I do have a bit of advice concerning your 'plan' as you all move forward:
STOP IT!! For the love of Baby Hockey Jesus please stop this madness!!
The Stars had a 3-0 lead for nearly two full periods... and they blew it! It was like they tried to out-pathetic themselves from the Edmonton game.
"Hey... you guys think tanking a 2-0 lead was bad? Wait til ya see what we got planned for tonight!"
(The gory details after the jump...)
They had a great first period again which has been pretty much par for the course the last couple of weeks... Got goals from Brad Richards and Mike Modano... Both were beautiful plays. Richards was great out there and James Neal who was returned to the Richards line was playing well also. The defense was making nice crisp passes out of their zone. Steve Ott was banging and flying out there and even though he got stopped on yet another breakaway we Stars fans kinda laughed it off.
"Oh those Stars, always failing on breakaways and penalty shots... Ha ha..."
The Stars ended the first period up 2-0 and looking better than they had in weeks. Even their good efforts against Detroit and Edmonton couldn't match how well this first period went for Dallas. Not to mention the Ducks - who were going through a December that ranked only slightly better than Tiger Woods' December - were playing so bad that you could have sworn they reverted back to their mighty purple and teal, lets let Guy Hebert try to win this by himself days.
And then the second period hap... No... Wait... Actually the second period wasn't that bad either! At least it didn't start that bad.
Sure the Ducks came with more pressure and sure the Stars seemed to lose a step and were playing on their heels a bit more, but it wasn't that bad a period. Brad Richards added a second goal on the night to make it 3-0 after some more nice work by Neal and Loui Eriksson. And hell, if not for a couple of strong plays made by the Ducks defense, Dallas could have added a fourth or fifth goal. Near the end of that period though the Ducks started getting too much of an advantage in terms of puck possession and shots on goal. The Stars young defense - made younger by the playing of Ivan Vishnevskiy tonight - were really starting to struggle in terms of getting the puck out and the rest of the team seemed to go into snooze mode.
A snooze that you thought they should have broken out of the moment Joffrey Lupul got out of the penalty box with no Star keeping him in check and picked up a breakout pass from Ryan Getzlaf and then proceeded to drill Marty Turco into his own net with a five-hole shot that Marty did stop with his pads, but sadly slid in behind the goal line anyway under those pads along with the rest of Turco.
(We can argue all day if Turco was actually 'pushed' into that net by Lupul's stick and I'd buy the argument he was, but at that point Marty was backing up pretty quickly himself so I'm pretty sure his own momentum carried him in, push or no push.)
But still, Stars up 3-1 after two... That's not so bad. The Stars can make adjustments and come out better in the third. Only, they didn't. It got worse. Much worse.
If you were one of those fans that couldn't bother to stay up so late for the game, kudos to you for having the forsight to avoid such a train wreck that was the Stars defending a lead in the third period.
They again played not to lose. (Remember what I said about that last time kids?) Ducks played like they had nothing to lose. The Stars defense couldn't hold on to the puck in their own zone. They refused to hustle for loose pucks instead allowing Anaheim to pick up scraps in exchange for not being the guy that may be out of position. The Stars forwards weren't any better as they either stood high in the zone and hope a puck floated to them or hopelessly chased Ducks around the ice.
Honestly, I've seen dogs chase down their tails better than the Stars did pucks in that third period.
And when the Stars did manage to get the puck once in a while, it was a case of getting the puck past center, dumping it in and then having one forward kinda go after it, but not really with any gusto.
Turco was the only reason the Stars made it to overtime.. And yet somehow with the third Ducks goal, a Dan Sexton wrister from an odd angle a shot that Turco should have easily stopped, Turco was the reason it went into overtime. Not that Turco was to blame for the entire game, in fact anyone who does blame Turco for this loss clearly just didn't watch the game. The simple truth is, when your team is outshot 14-2 in the third period and 21-4 when you put together the third and overtime periods, you don't deserve a win. Turco can not be expected to stand on his head and stop the Ducks shooting gallery from getting anything past him.
(A quick little footnote here: Dan Sexton was awesome in that third period for Anaheim. He at least had the right idea. Fire pucks from every angle possible. Nine shots in a game? Wow!)
The Stars did get a point... Hard to get worked up or feel good about it though. This is a game they shouldn't have lost. Personally. that third period was some of the worst hockey I've seen from the Stars in the last twenty years of me being a dedicated follower of this franchise.
Unless you're really hoping to find out if a team can keep losing in overtime like the Stars do and still make the playoffs, as a fan this game tonight from about the second period onward should leave you feeling at least a little ill. We can only hope it does the same for the Stars themselves and lights a fire in them.
Defending Big D 3 Stars of the game
1st Star: Dan Sexton (ANA) - Two goals - first two of his NHL career, nine shots... He was all over the place and giving the Stars fits.
2nd Star: Bobby Ryan (ANA) - Had a nice, kinda quiet game... Two assists, six shots, +2... Wasn't flashy but was very solid.
3rd Star: Brad Richards (DAL) - Two goals early and was one of the few that bothered to shoot the puck on goal in the second and third periods.