Stargazing: Stars Outworked in Colorado, Lose 4-0

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and NHL news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

Last night was a resounding success. No, not the hockey game.

I'm talking about our Haiti Fundraiser, of course. We had 2,992 comments in the game threads and post game thread and raised hundreds of dollars for people who need help. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, it was a lot of fun. Everyone who contributed last night, take one step forward. Dallas Stars, not so fast.

It was the third game in four nights. It was the end of a road trip. It was the mile high air. Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, Jere Lehtinen and Tom Wandell were out of the lineup. You get the picture: A lot of excuses get thrown around after a game of those circumstances. The disparity in the specials teams play last night did the Stars in early, and the collective speed of the Avalanche team looked like just too much. Take away some of the injuries, the weariness, and the mile high air, and I still have a hard time envisioning how the Stars get quality pucks to the net on Friday night when the Avs come to Dallas for a rematch. Colorado kept Dallas to the perimeter last night, giving their goaltender an easy outing.

This was the Stars final road game of January. They went 1-7 in those 8 contests, scored a total of 15 goals and got shutout 3 times, yet all is not lost. They still sit only 3 points out a playoff spot, and they have a four game home stand ahead of them. If they're going to save their season, they must continue to play lights out at American Airlines Center. They have confidence there, but they'll have to overcome what have been major, major difficulties against the Coyotes and Avalanche this season to have that home success. They've been beaten by both clubs twice already this year, losing those games by a combined score of 16-5. The Stars play the Coyotes three times before the Olympic break. Dave Tippett will have a major impact on this teams' direction after all.

While we look forward to the home stand, let's take a look back at the thoughts and quotes from a 4-0 Avs win last night over our "road weary" Stars....

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Mike Heika is asking the tough questions over at the Dallas Morning News:

I'm with a lot of you, in that you look at the Stars statistically and they simply do not resemble a great team. There are holes in the defense, in the special teams, in the goaltending, and in the ability to finish offensive plays.

Consider this. Dallas is just three points behind the final playoff spot, and that is encouraging. However, the Stars are plus-3 on wins over regulation losses and minus-20 on total goals scored. Eighth-place Calgary is plus-7 in wins and even in goals scored and ninth-place Detroit is plus-7 in wins and minus-2 in goals.

Those teams are better than Dallas, and the Stars have to put together a significant winning streak just to catch them and get into the fight for eighth place.

It's daunting, but you have to give the team the chance to pull this off.

It would indeed be hard to look at a team that gets shutout three times in one month (a month that's not even over yet) and wonder how they could possibly be considered a good team. Yet, we hope. "There's still time," as they say in the Gameday Thread.

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The Denver Post nails it:

Craig Anderson had a rocking-chair, 27-save shutout for the Avs, who took back the top spot in the Northwest Division. Anderson has allowed only one goal in the last three games, and the Avs got goals from four players.

"I think the biggest thing with us right now is just confidence," Avs defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "We're coming into games expecting to win. We learned the hard way.

"Earlier in the year, we lost some leads, and we've gotten past that. We're not going to give teams any hope, because if you do, they're going to come back and bury you."

The Avs outshot Dallas 36-27 and seemed in total control throughout. They even got the breaks, including a goal that resulted from a puck hitting a linesman on what would have been an icing violation against the Avs.

"Rocking chair shutout." I couldn't have said it better myself. Seldom have goalies been tested less while blanking the other team.

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SB Nation friend Mile High Hockey somehow gives the Stars too much credit:

In a game that meant a lot to both teams, the Avalanche came out of the gate flying. So did the Dallas Stars. You could definitely tell that there was a sense of motivation for both teams.

Fortunately for the Avs, their special teams game is really clicking right now, and this game was all about special teams as Colorado scored 2 powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal.

The Avs got the scoring started with a blast from the point by...Brett Clark? Yes Brett Clark. After a little give and go, Clark backed up and let one fly. The shot eluded a screened Marty Turco high to the stick side. Darcy Tucker and Brandon Yip picked up the assist on Clark's 2nd goal of the season. 1-0 Avs just over 5 minutes into the first period.

As the period went along it the Avs were really forcing the play. They were winning all the little battles along the boards and races to the puck and getting great scoring chances in front of Marty Turco. Then Scott Hannan was whistled for a holding call in the corner just over halfway through the period.

Dallas was working the puck around the perimeter really well, then T.J. Galiardi stole the puck away from the Dallas pointman and was off to the races.  He scored on his own rebound and give the Avs a 2-0 lead. It was his 1st shorthanded goal of the season and Colorado's 5th SHG of the season. This goal seemed to absolutely suck the life out of the Stars. They were not the same team after that goal was scored.

By the way, the crowd last night at that game? 11,741. Ouch.

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Mark Stepneski of Andrew's Stars Page:

The Stars got thoroughly beat in this one. They got down 2-0 by giving up a power play goal five minutes into the game and then a shorthanded goal six minutes after that. They were chasing the rest of the night and they ended up looking pretty lackluster against a young, speedy and very good Colorado team that has a rock in net in Craig Anderson.

You can round up the usual suspects. They give up too many quality chances and the result is too many goals against. They don’t generate much offense. The specials teams are disappointing.

Playing three in four with a lot of travel didn’t help, but it’s not an excuse. Marc Crawford said it after the game. You’ve got to keep it close and hang around the game to give yourself a chance in a game like this and they didn’t do that when they fell behind early. They looked a step behind the rest of the way.

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Quotes:

You may not be aware (I wasn't), but FSN has a web site now: Foxsportssouthwest.com, and they are providing a lot of the content used on "Stars Live" after the games there.

Here you can watch Marc Crawford's comments.

Watch Steve Ott and Marty Turco reaction.

Marc Crawford:

"That was probably the crucial point," coach Marc Crawford said. "We wanted to be real close and play a good road game, and that just doesn't allow you to do that."

"It's the old adage – you have to earn your breaks," Crawford said.

"Give credit to their player, he stayed hard on the puck and got the rebound, but it was a poor play by Loui to start with and Nisky, he’s got to be better than that," Crawford said of the play. "They weren’t alone. We wanted to be real close, be stingy, play that classic road game, and when you give up a power play goal on the first shot in the middle of the net and then you give up the shorthanded effort when you make a couple of mistakes, those things really hurt a team that’s trying to play a tight game."

If anyone is keeping track, that's 3 times in the last 5 road games that the team has counted a shorthanded goal against as the catastrophic moment of the night. (Philadelphia, Vancouver, Colorado).

Steve Ott:

"Our battle level just wasn't good enough tonight," winger Steve Ott said. "We have to hold ourselves accountable for that, every single one of us, and that's a shame."

Marty Turco:

"Team defense is all about hard work and just an attitude, so if that’s our problem, we just need an attitude adjustment," said Turco, who has had an up-and-down season so far. "We just have to trust our coaches to help us figure it out."

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Cole Jones at The Other 6 Seconds correctly points out Marty Turco's lack of culpability last night:

The 4-0 score doesn't begin to describe how poorly the Stars played. One of the worst games I've seen from us in a long time... and this time it wasn't Turco's fault. He made his fair share of saves, let by 4 goals, but did not play a confident game at all. He spent most of the night rump-to-ice in his crease, swimming around and looking past a confused Stars defense. It wasn't pretty. On offense, the gameplan was non existant... on defense, the gameplan was to pick up the pompoms and hope Turco can overcome his demons. We see how well that worked out for all involved.

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