Just after the Stars had put the finishing touches on a 3-0 win over Phoenix to enter the 16 day Olympic break, I remember Ralph and Razor pontificating on the possibility that the break might have come at the wrong time for this team.
Afterall, they had preceded that 3-0 impressive win over the Coyotes with a 3-1 win in Calgary two nights earlier. And in their last four games before the break, they had posted an impressive 3-0-1 record to climb back into the thick of the playoff race.
I didn't think too much about the question that was raised by the Stars broadcasting crew that night. But after just 20 minutes, I could tell that the break took the wind out of this team's sails.
More after the jump.
Joe Nieuwendyk harped on the 'hard-to-play-against' meme on Monday in announcing the Steve Ott extension. Along the lines, he couldn't be happy with this performance as the Kings basically skated around at will in the offensive zone and scored their first four goals of the night from the slot will nary a hand of resistance from the Stars' defense there to meet them.
Just like the last time the Kings were here in October, they blew the game wide open in the middle frame.
After Rachel Hunter's ex took a feed from Alex Frolov to open the scoring in the first, Frolov himself scored when Drew Doughty mesmerized the Stars' defense with his puck handling skills then found Frolov wide open in the slot for a one timer to make it 2-0. Doughty picked up his second assist of the period on Brad Richardson's goal to make it 3-0. And for good measure, Ryan Smyth scored from, you guessed it, close range to make it 4-0.
Mike Ribeiro was able to snap the shutout on a wrist shot that he actually whiffed on early in the third on the power play. But that's the most the Stars were able to push back in this one.
Stars killer Anze Kopitar actually had a quiet night tonight and was held off the scoresheet before his excuse me shot deflected off Trevor Daley's stick and past Marty Turco to make the final, 5-1, with just 7 ticks left in the game.
And with that, the Stars kicked off the post-Olympic portion of their season with demoralizing loss. Not the end of their playoff lives, to be sure. But with that brutal East coast road trip on the horizon, they'd be well served to pick up their compete level against St. Louis at home Thursday night.
Some points would be nice, too.
Defending Big D Three Stars
3. Jonathan Quick, LA - I know Mike Heika saw fit to pick the benchwarmer for Team USA as number 1 star. And I know that if not for the Ribs' whiff that got by him, he would have had a shutout tonight. But I'm holding the whiff against him. As well as the attempted clear through the middle of the ice that nearly deflected off Steve Ott and into his net.
2. Alex Frolov, LA - Had a goal and two assists on the night. He was great, but...
1. Drew Doughty, LA - Drew was better. Arguably, the best defenseman for Team Canada during the Olympics, the native of London, Ontario practically picked up where he left off with an outstanding performance on the night. Jonathan Toews got rave reviews for his versatility up front for Team Canada. He could just as easily play on a line with Sidney Crosby as he could playing on a 3rd line full of grinders.
Well, Doughty's the same way. He can dole out hits, make smart defensive plays in his own zone, block shots, and he can also dish out assists. Tonight, he dished 'em out to the tune of three assists on the night.