Every so often, Occam's Razor rears it's ugly head. It certainly has for the Dallas Stars who were thumped, once again, by the Vancouver Canucks. That's the third time this season Vancouver has asserted it's will on our beloved team.
Quite simply, the difference between the Canucks and Stars is blatantly clear for all to see. They have dominant special teams units. The Stars don't. At least in this matchup.
5 on 5 might be pretty even. I'll have to check the metrics sometime this week. And with the winter storm that paralyzed North Texas the week of the Super Bowl...
Anyway, on to the game after the jump.
For the Stars, tonight was all about the 'just misses'. For the Canucks, it was business as usual as Vancouver scored on both of their second period power play chances courtesy of a wicked Mikael Samuelsson wrister and a Christian Ehrhoff shot from the point. The first power play of the middle frame came off a James Neal cross check about 150 feet from his own net late in the first after the Stars forward decided he had had enough love taps in the family jewels from Tanner Glass.
Certainly an understandable reaction from # 18. And no doubt Mr. Glass learned this tactic from Alex Burrows.
But when you consider the amount of success Vancouver has had against Dallas on the power play, you should probably do whatever you can to avoid putting them on the job. Even if the man code approves of your reaction.
Sometimes you just have to turn the other cheek. Or in this case, the other nut.
Anyway, the Stars were at least able to do something in the 2nd period that they weren't able to do on NYE or 8 nights ago in Vancouver. Battle back.
Which they did when Loui Eriksson was sprung on a 2-on-1 with Brenden Morrow. The guy who probably should have been the All Star Game MVP kept it for himself and fired a beautiful wrister over Cory Schneider to temporarily put the Stars back in this one at 2-1.
Lee Sweatt put the Stars on the job late in the 2nd to give them an opportunity to tie the game. But a Brad Richards bid from the point was blocked, a Stephane Robidas shot from the ladies tees missed the net, and then a tired Eriksson mishandled the puck, setting up a 2-on-1 short handed chance for Vancouver. Ryan Kesler was on the business end of a Jannik Hansenpass and the Canucks had their two goal lead back.
And any chance the Stars had of coming back was thwarted when Vancouver killed off a questionable tripping call on Kevin Bieksa. Kari Lehtonen's the only reason Vancouver didn't come close to turning this into a repeat of their two previous wins in this season series.
They still did get a Burrows goal late when he cut in past Trevor Daley and roofed one over Kari Lehtonen with 5:03 left.
I've read some stories in the media today about how terrible it is that an ice storm hit Dallas during Super Bowl week.
The only people this weather affects is the media big wigs like Mike and Mike, Dan Patrick and the Danettes, and hack sports columnists for CBS Sportsline.
This won't affect the fans, most of whom will be arriving towards the latter part of the week when the weather is supposed to turn better.
No, the real losers from all this are the Stars, who had a marquee opponent show up in a situation where the aforementioned sports media had nothing else, sportswise, to do.
Bad enough that the Stars laid another egg. Even worse that an ice storm severely limits attendance. Which, BTW, I don't blame any of you who stayed home.
Also, I have a US hockey man crush on Bobby Ryan. I'll admit it. But Ryan Kesler's play last February may have him as an alternate on my man crush list.
And he had a beautiful finish on that short handed dagger.
Lastly, I know the Stars miss Jamie Benn. But just as he didn't make much of a difference in the first two games, I struggle to see how his presence tonight would have made the outcome any different.
Again, Vancouver's just clearly that much better than Dallas.
Defending Big D 3 Stars
3. Cory Schneider (VAN) - He wasn't as dominant tonight as he was on NYE. But he was soild. As R&R said, when the Vancouver defense rarely broke down, he was there to make the save.
2. Ryan Kesler (VAN) - I debated giving him the number 1 star because his short handed goal was such a dagger to the Stars. But I didn't. And when you read my explanation below, you'll see why.
1. Mikael Samuelsson (VAN) - I thought his free agent signing in the summer of 2009 was very underrated. With Detroit, the guy was almost as potent as any of the other Europeans who donned a Winged Wheel. Tonight, he reminded us of that top level skill he possesses with his wicked wrister that opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the second period.
Vancouver's a complete team in large part because of him.