When playing a road game in the NHL, the general saying is to play a simple game (the phrase K.I.S.S. comes to mind). With a beat up defense and a backup goaltender, it was never more vital for the Dallas Stars to do exactly that.
About eight minutes into the second frame, the Stars had done exactly that. They scored two quick goals on the Predators -- forcing Barry Trotz to call a timeout to try and get a hold of his team -- and then tallied a couple more on a string of power plays.
Leading 4-2, the Nashville Predators and their fans were in shock. It was the perfect time to lock things down, play smart, protective hockey.
Instead, there were two quick (#Pesky) fights, both of which were instigated by Dallas, which resulted in some additional power play time for Nashville. Because of that, the Preds were able to make it 4-3, and erase all momentum that the Stars had built over the previous eight minutes. The shift in energy was palpable, with the fans involved in the game, and the Preds playing like it was only a matter of time before they scored again.
Glen Gulutzan was not happy about the actions of his players, at that point. He spoke with NBC Sports during a commercial break, and had this to say:
"When it's 4-2 we've got to know that we can't go and incite the crowd. We've got to play more disciplined. We're in this situation because we took bad penalties. We needed to lay low and keep forcing the issues with these guys. We have [played well in emotional games] but we need to make sure we're disciplined. Emotion is one thing, discipline is another."
This is not to say that the Stars do not have a myriad of other issues that led to the loss last night. The defensive problems still exist, the back up goaltender let in a couple of goals that Lehtonen likely would have stopped, and the 3rd Period collapse that has been so prevalent this season was there again last night.
The penalties only allowed one goal, not the game tying or game winning goal, so the blame is not squarely on those. To think so would be ignoring the larger issues that the Stars have besides a lack of composure against a gritty team.
After all, when a team allows the 30th ranked offense in the NHL to score five goals for the win -- especially when leading by a pair halfway through the game -- there is more than just one contributing factor at hand.
There were positives to last night's game as well. Fraser's goal was a nice one, the power play was successful, and Jamie Benn is playing like Jamie Benn should.
However, the penalty issues, particularly the needless ones, are an item on the list that has been worked on earlier this season. If they hope to have any chance at making the playoffs, they cannot allow games to get out of hand as easily as they did last night.
With another game tonight, there is nothing left to do but learn from this one, re-rack, and be ready to go against the Columbus Blue Jackets. With any luck, they can play a penalty free, strong defensive game for a full sixty minutes, and win on the second night of a back to back. That's not asking too much, is it?
Coming up in today's links: Winter Classic Mania, Don Cherry says something people don't agree with, and a blown call that might make you feel better about questionable penalties in the NHL.
- Mark Stepneski has his recap from last night's game, including a reminder that the Predators had been shut out in their previous two games before playing Dallas. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Is there something wrong with the New York Rangers? Some of the experts discuss it. I have no official position on the fact that they address a certain former Dallas Star with dollar signs in his name. [Puck Daddy]
- There might be as many as four outdoor games next season. Is it too much of a good thing? [Puck Daddy]
- Lots of people like to drink beer while they're at a game. Here's a list of the cheapest prices around the league. The Stars rank in the top 10. They also have Shiner, which I think gives them an extra edge. [Sports Illustrated]
- Chicago has won again, this time on the extra fram against the Edmonton Oilers. Good news for the Stars ,as it keeps the Oil two points back in the standings. [ESPN]
- Some former team members aren't exactly happy with Alexander Semin's work ethic. Now that he signed elsewhere, they aren't afraid to say so. [USA Today]
- Don Cherry is catching some heat again. This time, it's for pretending that the NHL is clean cut and lacking any drug issues or abusers. As much as I wish that were true, it's really not. Not even close. [Globe And Mail]
- Today's video of the day puts questionable penalty calls into perspective. The ref calls a phantom goal on a penalty shot, and no one bothers to overturn it. The only thing I can remember like that for Dallas was when a puck snuck in through the side of the net, and everyone thought it was a goal. Bonus points if you remember that one. Puck Daddy has more info on the goal here.