It's been three weeks since Brad Richards took a hit into the boards and fractured his wrist at Nationwide Arena. Since then, the Stars power play just hasn't been the same.
But in no game since that fateful night in Columbus has his absence been missed as much as it was last night against Montreal. Probably because in no game since then have the Stars enjoyed as much power play time as they did last night.
No, check that. I shouldn't say they enjoyed that power play time last night, save for the 5-on-3 goal that Loui Eriksson scored off a rebound last night early in the first.
But you get the point. Last night, the Stars had over 12 minutes of 5-on-4 time with which to work with and over four minutes of 5-on-3 time, including the first 3:35 of the second period and only Eriksson's score to show for it.
On the extended 5-on-3 to start the 2nd, they only managed one shot and generally looked lost thanks to not having Richards or a viable point man all year long. Zubov' been out for much of the season, Boucher failed to find his form thanks to injuries and was shipped off to Pittsburgh, and Darryl Sydor just isn't the Darryl Sydor of 10 years ago or even two years ago.
Which means that guys like Stephane Robidas have been asked to fill in not only on the power play, but as the team's primary #1 defenseman. Something he's just not equipped to handle for the entire season, I'm afraid. And it's catching up to him in a big way.
Last night, the Habs did what so many other teams have done to the Stars, and that is play a tight box down low, or triangle on the 5 on 3. Which goes to show just how little respect the Habs have for the Stars power play whenever Robidas is on the ice.
Knowing that, I'm baffled as to why Dave Tippett didn't throw Trevor Daley out there to try and change things up. Right now, the Stars only threat on the power play seems to be Mike Ribeiro.
And teams have been more than willing to let him stick handle in the corner and just concentrate on blocking the passing lanes. Well, except for San Jose's unit last Tuesday on that 5-on-3 that Dallas scored on early in the second to take control of that contest.
So what's the answer?
Well, the Stars better find it, whatever it is. Be it a Trevor Daley stepping up and being the goto point guy, newcomer Brendan Morrison, or Matt Niskanen. They don't have to score from the point. But they do have to do things such as get the puck in on goal to create scoring chances.
Otherwise, this team won't make the playoffs.