On a night where the Dallas Stars were out played, out hustled and out classed in all aspects of the game on the way to a 6-0 loss to the Florida Panthers, where does one start in trying to explain what exactly happened out there?
For instance, you know it was not a good night or a good game when the best thing I can say about the Stars play tonight is at least they didn't give up more than two goals in a period.
And they went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill... So there is that as well.
That sadly are the two most positive things I can say about the game tonight because every other part of it was just awful.
They lost to the Panthers?! - First we'll give credit where credit is due to Florida. Make no mistake, these aren't your older brother's Florida Panthers as GM Dave Tallon has done a remarkable job in rebuilding his team. He's built a strong and quick skating club with defensemen that can hit and forwards who are strong on the forecheck and can score. Losing to the Panthers this year should not be greeted with the shame one would have had two or three seasons ago. That said...
Tonight was just shameful wasn't it? - No question.
It wasn't just that they got blown out on the scoreboard - that can happen to even the best of teams in the NHL on any given night of the season - but it's the manner in how it happened tonight. There was seemingly no energy from the Stars save for a few flashes of offensive aggressiveness from the likes of Mike Ribeiro or Jamie Benn and some after whistle shoving and shouting at Panther players from Brenden Morrow.
Defensemen couldn't keep up with the much quicker Panther forwards and had all kinds of trouble moving the puck out of their zone when in fact they did get possession of the puck.
Forwards skated like they had cement blocks on their feet and while they did at least muster a few more offensive chances in the third period, they were usually one chance and out of the zone as there was not one instance of sustained pressure put on the Panthers D or their goalie Scott Clemmensen.
Kari Lehtonen kept the Stars in the game as best as he could for the first 30 minutes or so of the game but even he gave up a few borderline softies in the second half of the game. (Evgeni Dadonov almost looked apologetic when a puck bounced off his turned skate and past Kari for the Panthers sixth and final goal in the third period didn't he?)
There will be lots said about this game in the coming days.
The officials on the ice didn't give the Stars any break on some of the calls they made tonight, but a lot of that rests on the Stars who need to work harder to get calls going their way.
This team is really starting to miss Alex Goligoski - a point Ralph and Razor seemed to want to painfully hammer home every ten minutes or so it would seem - but the rest of the defensive group needs to step up their game and have yet to do that.
As much as it pains me to say it because I think generally most Stars fans like him as a good upstanding guy in the dressing room, but Toby Petersen has shown that he's not a very good option as a point man on the power play. Heck, Whatever line combos may have been working just a few games ago is clearly not working right now and the coaching staff needs to start pulling some strings and finding some solutions to what has become a very anemic offense.
But maybe the most alarming part about this game was the overall lack of emotion displayed by what was clearly an overwhelmed Stars club by night's end. I'm not one to advocate for gooning things up when down by five or more goals, but something beyond a few post-whistle crosschecks to the chest of a Florida player from your captain has to happen doesn't it?
One can almost overlook everything else bad that happened on the ice for the Stars tonight - as we sort of did in Pittsburgh and Detroit because we at least did see emotion and some fire from the team in those losses, but tonight was just plain awful.
The Stars need to recommit themselves to the whole Joe Nieuwendyk mantra of being tough to play against, because they certainly were not that and were thoroughly embarrassed on home ice tonight as a result.
16:44 - FLA - D. Kulikov (1) Assist: T. Kopecky (7)
18:08 - FLA - J. Garrison Assists: M. Santorelli (1), B. Campbell (16)
15:02 - FLA - T. Fleischmann (7) Assists: S. Weiss (8), K. Versteeg (10)
19:52 - FLA - S. Weiss (6) Assists: K. Versteeg (11), T. Fleischmann (10)
10:00 - FLA - K. Versteeg (9) Assist: S. Weiss (9)
13:19 - FLA - E. Dadonov (2) Assists: M. Sturm (1), M. Weaver (7)