The Dallas Stars losing streak reached four last night in the most frustrating of fashions against those Devils of New Jersey.
After all the focus on the defensive part of their game following 18 goals in the three games previous, there were still holes there to go along with their first goose-egg of the season on the offensive side.
"We didn't deserve to win," Jamie Benn observed. "Thank God we had Kari in there to make it look like it was close."
He (Kari) was the lone bright spot in 1-0 game in which they were out-shot 26-34 and badly out-chanced, and with a back-to-back tonight at the Garden their lone bright spot might be sitting on the bench in favor of Dan Ellis tonight.
The Stars had trouble finding room against an opponent content to play a super-tight defensive game. As they did when they visited Montreal in October. As they did when they went to Minnesota. In their trip to Nashville. On opening night against Florida.
Considering the criticality of their upcoming matchups with Minnesota, it's a trend that's a cause for concern. Teams content to pack it in are giving Dallas fits.
"You have to get them down," Lindy Ruff said after the game. "They had the lead and they were playing a pretty tidy game. We came at them, but they had four or five guys back in the neutral zone and they did a nice job of defending, so give them some credit."
The Devils blocked 18 shots last night, skewing the overall attempt/possession numbers- It was Jagr and company that had the far better of the chances. Tonight, similarly, the Stars will try to get through not only Henrik Lundqvist, but his army of defenders in front of him.
You remember them. They blocked a frustrating 21 shots when these teams met in Dallas on November 21st.
The West's superiority over the East and the inflated points race resulting already threatened to keep Dallas out of the playoffs despite improved play this season. Facing what could be their fifth straight regulation loss to an Eastern Conference team tonight, the Stars are digging themselves a hole from which there may be no escape in the middle of a stretch that was supposed to be a bit of a scheduling relief.
Last night's loss sees them join Nashville and Edmonton as the only Western Conference teams with losing records against the East.
The Rangers have fared well against the Western Conferece as of late. Aside from their huge win over Chicago Wednesday night on national television, they've also bested Minnesota, Calgary, Vancouver, Nashville, and of course, Dallas over the last seven weeks or so. They're 3-4-0 against the West at home this season.
Madison Square Garden has been a problem for this season- That's the easy narrative if you don't look harder. They started 5-9-1 at home but enjoy a 3-1-2 streak there since mid-December, so like the Stars, they hope they've righted the ship in front of their home-town faithful.
They'll pour it on, as well, averaging over 40 shots per game in their last three at MSG (43, 43, 36).
From Stars PR "Dallas wraps up its three-game trip to the New York metropolitan area on Friday with the second of two contests against the Rangers this season. The Stars come into Friday's tilt having won three of their last four games at Madison Square Garden and have earned points in eight of the last 11 contests against the Rangers in New York (7-3-1). Forward ERIK COLE has earned points in back-to-back tilts against the Rangers (1-2=3), and has 10 points (2-8=10) in his last eight contests against New York."
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