The saying is 'What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger' ... Well, I suspect that overall the confidence fans have in the Dallas Stars isn't dead but it sure doesn't feel strong any more after a crushing 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins tonight. That the last stretch of games (save for one win in the middle) have read like a very bad tennis score makes it all that much togher: 7-4, 7-1, 6-3
I don't even know where to begin when summing up this game. I don't even know if I want to start summing up this game. Three fights in rapid fire succession to start the game - only one of which a Stars player got the better of - fired up the Bruins and their fans giving them all the momentum they'd need to score two goals less than a minute and a half to the game. As Worley said to us writers in private shortly after that point: Then they played like someone shot their puppy the night before, like 20 emo kids who had their Dashboard Confessional CD taken away. Two more goals allowed in the later half of the second period and the game result was decided right then and there after 20 minutes of play.
Karlis Skrastins did manage to get the Stars on the scoresheet at least in the second period while Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards scored in the third period to make it somewhat interesting before Kari Lehtonen let in a stinker of a goal to put the Stars away for good. They also did go 4 for 4 on the penalty kill which is almost amazing considering how bad it's been the last two weeks. So there were at least a few positives to walk away with tonight.
But, this is a Dallas team that has seemingly lost it's way and that was no more obvious during the five minute power play the Stars got after Daniel Paille unleashed cheap blindside hit to the head of Raymond Sawada that earned him a five minute match penalty. The Stars did manages some shots in that powerplay, but passed way too much and were far too cautious and looked like a team that was just content to prevent any short handed scoring chances against.
The Stars as is typical of them did battle as hard as they could after a pathetic opening period but that is getting to be of little consolation to anyone at this point.
- Other players getting points tonight: Loui Eriksson had two assists, Adam Burish, Steve Ott and Jeff Woywitka all had an assist.
- The list of Stars who had to leave the game due to injury is almost as long as the one of players who got points: Krys Barch left with a suspected scratch on the eye after his fight with Shawn Thornton. Burish left the game shortly after he picked up his assist in the second period as his eye had swelled shut due to his fight with Andrew Ference. As mentioned Sawada left due to a blinside hit that should see Paille get suspended for 10+ games, but because the NHL is a joke when it comes to suspensions and punishment he probably won't get more than five.
- After the game, Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportnet tweeted: Sawada suffered a separated shoulder/broken nose off Daniel Paille head hit .. We'll probably have more official word in the morning from the Stars.
Is it time to hammer on the panic button? Personally I don't know if we're at that point yet because as we wake up Friday morning this will still be a first place in the division hockey club, but it sure doesn't feel like a first place club. Hell after an ugly loss to Calgary, two brutal defeats at the hands of the Vancouver and now tonight's punch in the face (in more ways than one) by Boston, this Dallas Stars team - especially in the first period - barely feels like an AHL caliber squad let alone an NHL level team.
The positive Stars fan in me would maintain that this is a stretch the Stars can learn from, build off of and use it to make themselves better - and stronger - in the long run and into the playoffs. They did "win" the last two periods after all (empty net goal be damned) so save for a horrible first 20 minutes the Stars were kinda in this game or at least more so than they were in the Calgary or Vancouver games and they did so with a very short bench due to injuries... So that's something right?
The pessimistic Stars fan in me is louder at this point though and feels that the wheels have fallen off and that all those wins the Stars picked up were done with a ton of smoke and mirrors and that playoffs are a Jim Mora fantasy right now.
Re-rack and hope for better in Philly on Saturday I suppose...