They say the nice thing about baseball is that when you lose, you don't have long to think about it because you've got your next opportunity to make it right and fix it the very next day. Back to backs aren't generally considered a big plus in hockey or basketball, but I'm taking it as a positive this morning because I imagine stewing on a loss like that is not something that any of us want to be doing and I imagine the players feel the same way. At least I hope they do.
Where do you point the finger? The goaltending is a popular answer. The power play, though brief, didn't do them any favors last night. The Alex Auld gaff turned the game on it's ear. The Canucks attacked with speed directly through the middle of the ice three times and scored three goals. The defense must surely shoulder some blame there. The team is injured. They carry into each game the 5th smallest payroll in hockey, and about $20 million of it was elsewhere last night with Ribeiro, Turco, Morrow and Lehtinen missing from the ice in one form or another. There are a hundred excuses that can be made, but in the end the players have to figure this out themselves. No one wants to hear excuses.
Good hockey teams find ways to win games, Dave Tippett always says. This team finds ways to win hockey games at home, against opponents big and small, with undeniable consistency. When they go on the road, they find new and interesting way to lose hockey games; Even when they they play a solid first two periods as they did last night.
They'll get their next chance to find a way, either way, against the hapless Oilers tonight in what amounts to a
cripple fight meeting of two teams struggling mightily at Rexall Place, 8pm CST. Someone's gotta win it!
In the mean time I invite you to take in the quotes and reaction to last night's debacle in Vancouver...Oh, and how good was Toby Petersen last night?
"We played 45 minutes of good hockey, and that's not enough," Crawford said. "This has been a trend for us, where the other team raises its level of play, and we're just unable to do that."
"We have to be stronger than that, and we have to be smarter than that," said defenseman Stephane Robidas. "We can't go into times like that in the game and think we have to win it single-handedly or panic. Just make the smart plays, just play hockey."
"We have to just put this behind us and go into Edmonton and play like a team," Robidas said.
You can say we played a good game, and it feels like that in some ways, but we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. It just seems like it's something different every game. We have to pay more attention to details."
"I had been feeling good about playing the puck earlier in the game, so I thought I had a play, but he got it behind me," Auld said. "It's tough when you give up one like that. You have to learn from these things and move on."
Well, can you have a goaltender controversy when your biggest question is which one will play less worse than the other.
Alex Auld was OK in net for most of the game, but you just can't make that mistake.
With the Stars on a power play and time dwindling down in the second period, Auld figured he could stick-handle around forechecker Alex Burrows and get the puck to his defenseman.
Burrows poked the puck off Auld's stick, retrieved it and then lifted it to tie the game at the 19:00 mark of the second period.
And Dallas fell apart after that.
Maybe that speaks to the mental strength of the team and inability to handle adversity on the road, but there was no reason for Auld to make that play. What was he going to gain? What was the risk involved?
I'd like to sit here and defend Alex Auld. I'd like to say there were a thousand other reasons why they lost that game, but it's hard to ignore that gaff at that time. If Petersen had scored his short handed goal AFTER the Burrows goal, it's a different game. Timing is everything. You can make mistakes, but not then. That was absolutely killer.
Auld was making his third-straight start despite the fact struggling No. 1 Marty Turco has a 18-7-2 record, 1.92 goals-against average and .927 save percentage against Vancouver. He finished with 19 saves, but coughed up the puck trying to make a pass in front of his own goal.
Burrows, who had a goal waved off less than a minute earlier after kicking the puck in, put it into the empty net to extend his points streak to 10 games. It was the fifth straight game with a goal for Burrows, who has 13 of his team-leading 23 during a 10-game run that also includes two assists.
"He kind of panicked for a second," Burrows said. "Obviously, you don't really think goalies are going to turn the puck over there but I was lucky enough to get a stick on it."
I happen to be listening to the Canucks broadcast at the time, and my little newborn baby girl had stopped yelling at me long enough for me hear the Vancouver broadcast crew blame the error on Marty Turco somehow. Evidently Marty Turco made Alex Auld do it; Rubbed off on him, so to speak. Sure.
Up 2-1 over a better team and deserving every inch of that lead! Jason Strudwick and Jean-Francois Jacques being completely useless but not costly yet! Sam Gagner being both effective and productive! Devan Dubnyk being an NHL goaltender! We had a power play goal, we were banging and crashing and it was a pretty good facsimile of a hockey team.
And the Canucks won, the dirtbags.
That sound familiar?
I know the Oilers record recently. I know what Art said on the Defending Big D Live podcast. But I am border-line sure that the Oilers are "due" tonight, and the Stars are...well they're going to be there in the building.
"This event’s a lot of fun," noted on-ice agitator/off-ice good guy Steve Ott. "There’s no other event where you can have a little party with the fans. They enjoy the company, they enjoy the gambling side, the atmosphere - everything is kind of all in one with this event. Also supporting the great cause of the charity, it all adds up to a helluvan event and I personally enjoy it more than any event that we do. It makes it easy, to have the great fans that we have here, as well."
"All the charities, the hospital visits, they’re kind of just in-and-out real quick," added captain Brenden Morrow, "but this one, you get to mingle, you get to get up close and personal with the fans for three or four hours, so it’s nice to talk to them and see them on that level."
Petersen pointed out that he received some interesting feedback from fans that he spoke with.
"Talking to some of these people, you get some interesting perspectives on this team and individuals and on myself, things that I would never think about," said Petersen while still savoring the awesome bon bons. "Our routine tends to get a little monotonous, where you go to practice, go home, rest, play a game, all that type of stuff, so it’s a nice break for all the players. And it’s good to see everyone coming out and donating lots of money to a great cause, so it’s just a pleasure to be around this environment."
They have a picture there of Marty Turco dealing. I wonder if there were any awkward moments.
If you would asked about 35 minutes into the game about the turning point of the night I would have said it was that Canucks power play midway through the game. Alex Edler hits a post, the Stars go the other way and Toby Petersen beats Roberto Luongo with a blast from the top of the left circle. At that point I thought the Stars had played extremely well and really looked on their way to possibly getting the road monkey off their backs along with the three-game winning streak issue.
Ask me what the turning point was 45 minutes into the game and I would have said it was that shorthanded goal by Alex Burrows, who picked Alex Auld’s pocket as he tried to handle the puck in front of his net and then scored into an empty net. I thought that goal rattled the Stars and it showed in the third period. Vancouver seemed to step it up a notch and the Stars looked flat footed. It was a tie game going into the third period and the Canucks won the third period. The Canucks’ top players were the best players in the third period. Luongo and his mates did a better job of overcoming the adversity of a bad goal. The Stars made a couple of mistakes and the Canucks cashed in. The Stars had a couple of chances and Luongo cleaned them up.
And finally, I'll leave you this morning with a quote from the incomparable Michael Scott:
...And it feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears. At the same time somebody else is hitting my soul in the crouch with a frozrn sledgehammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone and I'm crying and nobody can hear me because I'm terribly, terribly, terribly, alone.