Spare Change: Whining And Back-Up Goalies

Spare Change is a new weekly column in which I've been given free reign to discuss the topics of the week in my own words. It should regularly be posted on Saturdays, with fairly wide-reaching topics. In this week's inaugural edition, I'll be touching on everything from where Richard Bachman stands in this organization to whining about officials.

The past week for the Dallas Stars has been another marked by hard to predict ups and downs, and not just from game to game, but during games as well. On the ice, it was marked by quick starts and fast declines. Sometimes we overcame them, sometimes we let it get away from us.

Against the Ducks, the Stars turned a first period 1 goal lead into a 3-0 lead early in the second period, with two much needed powerplay goals by Alex Goligoski and Mike Ribeiro. 3 Ducks goals of their own, including 2 while the Stars were a man down, gave Anaheim all of the mometum going into the third period. A strong finish by Ryder and Nystrom put the Stars back in the lead and the Stars came away with a 5-3 victory.

This is almost the exact same script that the Stars followed against the Nashville Predators last night. After getting a very early 3-0 lead, this game looked like it would be a relatively uncontested victory against our soon-to-be conference rivals. Despite letting the Predators get within one goal on two different occasions, the Stars managed to keep pouring it on for a 6-3 victory when it was all said and done.

Now why couldn't the Stars do the same against the Flyers on Wednesday?

After scoring on Sergei Bobrovsky in the opening two minutes, things were looking good for the Stars, who avoided Philadelphia's "Humongous Big" starting goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov. That early tally would be all the offense Bobrovsky would allow, as the Stars got frustrated and sloppy in a 4-1 loss where just about everyone in black looked bad.

There was some debate in the Defending Big D bullpen about exactly what went wrong with this loss. Some felt that the Stars had some quit in them when faced with adversity. Some thought that it was just a bad game, and everyone has them. A point was also made to mention that the Stars seem to very rarely lose one goal games. When we win, there's a lot of close scorelines and dramatic endings.

That's not a bad thing, necessarily. If you'd told me that the Stars would be winning a lot of one goal games when the season began, I'm sure I'd have images of Ken Hitchcock, Doug Jarvis, and Rick Wilson jumping through my head. It's a great thing to put on a team's playoff resume. The flipside of that coin, however, is that when we lose... we seem to REALLY lose bad.

The reasoning behind that, I'll leave to my readers to debate in the comments section. The main thing that bothers me about the loss is the post game comments from the players, especially Steve Ott. I love him to death. My wife idolizes him. I am very much a Steve Ott fan, but it's hard to get behind any player that even mentions officiating once during a post-game interview after a loss... for me at least.

I'm a firm believer of not whining about the officials after a loss. I think that as a long season goes along, those things even themselves out for every team, unless you make yourselves a target by being the cry babies of the league. Glen Gulutzan seems to share my philosophy, as he made fairly clear earlier in the season when the complaining seemed to be at it's peak.

Otter even mentioned this in his post game comments as well. I just don't think it counts as refraining from complaints when you mention that the officiating got better when you stopped complaining... "except for tonight." That's a thinly veiled complaint, and it just goes to show that there is still a mentality in the locker room that the Stars are getting a raw deal here.

We aren't the Buffalo Sabres. Officiating is an inexact science, and I don't want to hear everyone whining about when calls don't go our way.

Another often discussed topic this week is the backup goaltending situation. Richard Bachman has started the team's last 7 games, and for the most part, played very well. It has called into question Andrew Raycroft's role and standing within the organization. It's obvious that the Dallas Stars are trying to take every opportunity they can to see what exactly Richard Bachman can bring to the table before Kari Lehtonen comes back from his injury.

The question that remains, however, is what their long term plan is for him. Is this an audition to see what he could potentially bring to us next season in a back-up role, when Raycroft will almost certainly be playing elsewhere? Or is this a wide open chance for Bachman to steal Rayzor's job on an immediate basis?

My best guess is the second option. If you recall, we didn't sign Raycroft as a guaranteed backup goaltender. His league wide stock wasn't the highest, and we snagged him on a two-way contract so he could fight it out with Brent Krahn in the preseason for the job. If his job wasn't secure then, I don't see how it could be considered secure now. It appears as though confidence in his abilities is at an all-time low both in the front office and the seats of the American Airlines Center.

Bachman has had his stumbles during this 7 game audition, but over all, he has won a lot of fans in Dallas. I personally think he may be better suited for the backup role than Raycroft. While Bachman is beginning to show signs of fatigue, he seems to be better suited to shining in spot duty than Raycroft, the former Calder winner that was a starting goaltender a few times in his career.

What does this mean for Raycroft? Would another team like him on waivers? Re-entry waivers? Would the Stars try to turn him in to a late draft pick if possible, or try to retain him as depth in the AHL? These are all the questions that are going to come in to play in the next week when Lehtonen is scheduled to return to the ice.

It's going to get interesting, because I think the Stars have a lot of respect for Raycroft as a teammate.

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