There's no doubt it's tough being a Stars fan these days. It's tough with no owner, it's tough on the PK, it's tough with no new Richard's contract, and it's tough to watch Matt Niskanen remind us of 09-10...
That said, I was stoked to get a chance to see my revamped and pumped up 2010-11 boys hit the ice at the ACC. It's rough being heckled in Detroit - they're super good, and there's really only so much you can say. It's rough being heckled in Buffalo - they lost the cup on a "bad" goal, and don't let you forget it. But TO? It's different, right? They know hockey, right? The boys are from the ON, and want to show some friends and family, right? Plus, I mean, look at their record. They run Toronto's show...?
Well, that was before tonight.
"Brad Richards? Well, that'd be a good pick up, I guess. He's a good centre usually isn't he?" - James (A real life Leaf fan after watching the game tonight)
The good news? They get to play a Sens team tomorrow that's still in the East, and still not the greatest. The bad news? Well, you saw tonight.
What can I say that wasn't mentioned by Mike, Mark, or our friends here at DBD?
Well, first of all, I've seen several Stars road games over the years, and this one had zero (and I mean absolutely no) vigour. From the opening draw to the final whistle, there was absolutely no drive from the Stars. A benchmark: A fan the row behind me said: "Why is James Neal not playing at all tonight?" He was totally serious, and not being sardonic. The fact is the Stars - and not just the hyped up Ontario boys - we're flat. Even the guys you expect to stoke some flames, in Otter, Burrish, and Barchy, were virtually non-existent (Yes, Otter got an assist and drew a penalty, but other than those brief moments he was virtually invisible). We all know on the road your grinders are your secret weapons, and on a team with character out the ass, you'd think we'd see it in lavish amounts in a hockey hotbed.
So what does this mean?
Well, it's one game, but this road slide has been well documented. If they don't show up with a wild and full spirited outing in Ottawa it should fly some very, deep, red flags indeed. The Leafs are far from a power-house, and the Sens are a little closer. Is Scotiabank an easier place to play? Yes, but who's making excuses for weak constitution? The fact of the matter is the Stars came into a game the should've won by a wide margin and took a dump all over the collective GTA bed. The Stars are going to lose some games. We know it, and they know it. But no one was upset with the loss on Saturday because of the tenacity and battle in our crew. Tonight? If I've ever seen the term lackadaisical personified, this was it.
Silver lining? Crow was mad. He's a Belleville boy and doesn't like to be embarassed close (well, two hours but still) to home. I expect a better showing Wednesday night, and hopefully they'll respond to a well earned bashing in the locker room.
- Eriksson was uncharacteristically meek on the puck tonight. We had a few rare giveaways that took away from his prowess in the offensive zone. He grabbed the assist, but it was very secondary.
- Richards was Richards. He was great on the PP, but couldn't get anything done there. I wish more people knew who good this man was. Great goal out of a seemingly "nothing" fore-check.
- Wandell was noticeable, if only for skating so well, and then turning the puck over to a Maple Leaf.
- Matt Niskanen (who was trending up a lot recently) played soft, and slow, tonight. He not only gave the puck away on several occasions, but also made horribly timid decisions in his own zone that required other players to compensate, and shifted the balance and set up of the lines.
- Crow made some different line combinations. Clearly this was during a loss, so we'll see if they keep going. I don't like harping on a coach after one game.
Let's hope for a better showing in Kanata, hope to see a few of you there.