At this point what else is there to say about our Dallas Stars? The goaltending was poor at times, the defense was very sub-par all game and the offense was a little better today, but still not where it should be - especially in terms of the powerplay. It all added up to yet another lopsided result against our boys - this time a 6-3 loss to the defending champs from Pittsburgh.
Second verse, same as the first.
Now the time has come for me to write yet another game recap and I realize it would be so very easy for me to focus on the negatives surrounding the team at this point - something to which we have done ad nauseum.
Well, Karlis Skrastins looks confused and utterly lost on the ice. Jamie Benn has almost pulled off a complete disappearing act and the long stretch grind that is the NHL regular season looks to be catching up to him Matt Niskanen needs to be removed from the power play point ASAP because at least two or three times a game he can't keep a puck in the offensive zone when it comes to him to save his life. Kari Lehtonen is six foot four inches tall and yet inexplicably lets pucks fly over his shoulders and into the net repeatedly. Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen are old, very ineffective and are just going through the motions at this point. The power play is so bad (0 for 6 today) that they should just start declining penalties. Trevor Daley has had as many pucks go off him and into the Stars net as he has total points. Krys Barch is a waste of time on the ice and does nothing productive to help his team unless he tries to fight and even then he doesn't do well at that most times. Brenden Morrow is back to being completely snake bit around the opposing net.
See how easy that is? One large paragraph of Stars woes all wrote up in - and I timed myself on this - one minute and forty seconds. I didn't even mention that Brad Richards looks like he's still on Olympic break or that Marc Crawford somehow thought sitting Mark Fistric was somehow a good idea.
Too easy. Almost as easy as getting past a Stars defender on the way to crashing the net! (See? I'm not even trying here!)
But for a moment, lets forget the negatives and after the jump focus on the positive stuff from today because there actually were some nuggets of good to take away from this afternoon contest as a Stars fan...
First off lets give GM Joe some kudos on picking up Brandon Segal from waivers. I've had LA Kings fans message me the last few weeks singing the praises of Brandon and how great a pickup he is. Being a western Canadian guy I was also familiar with Brandon from his time with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and knew he was quite the force in juniors, but that it hadn't translated well so far in the NHL. So far he's been a great fit with the Stars and a joy to watch. He works hard, has no issues going into corners and as we saw today he does have a nice set of hands that can finish plays. Keep that play up Brandon and soon we'll have to make cute photoshop pictures of your head on Steven Seagal's body!
Of course there is Loui Eriksson and all he does is score goals at the side of the net. I honestly don't know how he does it any more! Back in the day Brett Hull had this uncanny ability to roam around the ice undetected, find open space in the slot to be fed pucks and then blast them past a helpless goalie. Loui it seems has that same talent to go undetected, park himself just beside the net and get fed cross ice passes that he then has no problem hammering home.
Jeff Woywitka was maybe the most responsible defenseman the Stars had all game - now I know some of you may see that as a big negative that if Jeff is the best the Stars have, the team is in big trouble - but I'll take it as a positive because we're not expecting solid play from Jeff at any point. I think Jeff's play as of late is the reason Marc Crawford feels he can sit Fistric, but sadly Crow only has half that equation right. Yes Jeff deserves playing time, but take your pick between Nisky or Karlis and sit them out instead.
Mike Ribeiro is a wizard on the ice and I fully expect to see his goal today on every 'plays of the week' broadcast over the next few days. It's a shame many of his teammates can't finish off his passes or else he'd be among the league leaders for assists.
Steve Ott so far has been earning that big pay raise. Today he did it with a spirited tilt against the Pens Craig Adams in what was easily the best fight involving a Dallas Star we've seen all season. Sadly it didn't seem spark his team at a time when they were down, looked lethargic and needed something to get going, but that's not Steve's fault...
For 40 minutes or so this team played evenly against the defending champs and at one point had a two goal lead. Yes they quickly gave that two goal lead up and yes everything fell apart in the third, but again this is about taking away positives and the Stars have to be able to walk away from this game knowing that the pieces are there... This team can compete with the best the NHL has to offer, they just need to find consistency in their game.
And if you want to really stretch for positives, lets admire the Penguins for a moment who played a very complete game today and unlike the Stars of late, didn't panic when they fell behind two goals. Sidney Crosby (I know, I know... Most of you are very tired of hearing and seeing his name) led his team like a captain should and picked up two goals. Marc Fleury wasn't great but he did come up with some very key saves when needed and I gotta say he almost reminds me of Grant Fhur at this point in that he's not a brick wall in goal, but he does just enough to help his team win games which is exactly what Fhur did with the 80's Oilers and even 90's Blues.
We got to see a championship team up-close today and even if you're a diehard Stars fan, you at least have to admit there is respect for the kind of game the Pens can play. They look very much ready for another playoff run.
As for our Stars? They'll get to see the world's most exciting player up-close on Monday in Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Let's just hope the Stars can find even more of their game - especially on the defensive side - in D.C. after finding a little bit of it in Pittsburgh today.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Sidney Crosby (PIT): Two goals and one assist, takes over NHL lead in goal scoring... He could quit now (a lot of people would like that) and still have had a great NHL career.
2 - Alexei Ponikarovsky (PIT): Great debut for him tonight and he really fit in well on a line with Malkin and Kunitz. Six shots and a goal as a reult.
3 - Mike Ribero (DAL): I'm gonna go all Bryan Hayward on you people and pick a Star even though two or three guys on Pittsburgh should have the third star. Beautiful hard working goal in the second and looked dangerous all game.