If the Dallas Stars want to make the playoffs, they have to beat playoff caliber teams, and with an opportunity to take points away from those above them in the standings they stumbled again last night with a 6-2 loss in Colorado.
So when things go south against these better teams, they go south in a hurry.
After their 6-2 loss to Chicago last Tuesday Lindy Ruff didn't mince words in calling the outing "an arse-kicking," and he was no less direct last night.
"Every goal was a result of us turning the puck over and just bad coverage," he opined.
Aaron Rome, playing just his third game of the season, re-joined Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas on the injured list after leaving the game with a lower body injury, leaving Sergei Gonchar, Alex Goligoski, and a whole lot of youth left to fill the holes.
"We've got some young defensemen playing in some bigger places and I've got to get them in a better spot," Ruff told media last night.
So Jordie Benn will re-enter the lineup after a couple of healthy scratches and his 58 NHL games join Oleksiak's 23, Kevin Connauton's 7 and Brenden Dillon's 81 to form 67% of Dallas' blue line.
It's an exciting time for Stars fans, watching the youth learn on the job, but it will produce nights like Tuesday.
Dillon put the Stars on a 5-on-3 penalty kill for the fourth straight game. Jamie Oleksiak took the tripping penalty in the first and lost a physical battle on a goal against. Kevin Connauton's clever sneak down the back side on the goal was great, but he was also on the ice for more shot attempts/Corsi events than any other Stars player last night.
"I'm going to work with them," Ruff continued. "They've got to play in big situations against big players and they've got to make those plays for us. It really falls on my shoulders to get them there, because they're the guys that are going to have to play."
Mike Heika then quipped, to Ruff's minor amusement, that it sounded like a lot to do before Tuesday night's game- Because if you can't smile during all of this it's going to be a long season.
Since the 2011 draft, the drafting of Oleksiak, and all of the "cupboard is bare" talk where the defense was concerned Stars fans have wanted to see products of the system reach the NHL level. Here we are- Fans and Stars officials alike just hope it's not too much, too soon for their development curves.
Back to last night, Jamie Benn said that "it was pretty much us laying an egg." One player that didn't was Colton Sceviour, who was a bright spot and had the puck on his stick around the Colorado net nearly every shift. He finished with a team-high seven attempted shots (5 shots, 2 missed)
"We've got another game to redeem ourselves," Benn said after the game of the quick turn-around. "It's another two big points on the line in our own building. We can't give up those points."
Redemption for last night and a little momentum at home, where Dallas plays 15 of their next 22, would be most welcome indeed.
The expectation is that Dan Ellis will start in net. Vern Fiddler is questionable to return (upper body). G.S. Giguere will probably get the nod for Colorado.
Puck drop will be at about 7:37pm on Fox Sports Southwest proper.
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