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Stargazing: Searching For Answers After Another Frustrating Loss

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

The Stars as a team keep rolling their eyes when we bring up lack of consistency, but this is getting old.

This statement by Mike Heika perfectly sums up every fan's feelings about the Dallas Stars. How many times in the past few weeks have we written about how the Stars need to grab momentum from a win and somehow find a way to play consistent from game to game? Each game the Stars come out and fail to build upon the good things they had done the previous game; whether it's the travel, the injuries, the lack of chemistry among the lines, it's frustrating to watch. What's even more frustrating is how the coaches and players continue to deny there's a consistency issue, and claim that cohesiveness is just around the corner.

Saying that the Stars are putting forth a poor effort and lack energy is far from the whole story. A lack of execution on defense, a lack of an ability to establish a consistent forecheck, the defense's inability to get the puck out of the zone and into transition, and incredibly poor coverage in front of the net have all contributed to the win one, lose one pattern the Stars have endured so far this season.

Over the next few days, we're going to dive headfirst into each aspect of the Stars game and try to determine exactly what needs to change. Is the lack of true #1 defensemen what's really holding the team back? How is the lack of production from Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow crippling the Stars' offense? What is exactly is the ideal line combination the Stars need to use? We'll examine these issues this week leading up a to a big game in Detroit on Wednesday night.

Today in Stargazing: Mike Heika is trying to determine exactly why it's always something different each night, Marc Crawford wasn't happy with ice conditions and Dave Tippett feels pretty good about the win last night against his former team.

Some more thoughts from Mike Heika:

It's something different every night. And typically, whatever the problem is gets fixed the next game, so it's not a problem anymore.

Maybe that's just the way of the NHL this season. If you look at the West, there are four teams between spots 7-10 and their last five games look like this: Columbus (5-3-2), Phoenix (5-5-0), Dallas (4-3-3) and Vancouver (5-5-0). It is a league of parity, and every game seems up for grabs every night.

How can the Stars find a way to get that extra edge? Maybe they will sort that out in their two days in Phoenix.

Because I honestly don't have an answer for you.

Mark Stepneski says that while the Stars are struggling, at least they're in every game and not getting blown out.

Throw in the 6-5 shootout loss to Florida back on October 30 and the Stars 2-3-2 in their last seven games. Of those seven games, six have been decided by one goal (only the 4-2 loss to Nashville wasn't) and four have been settled in either overtime or the shootout. So they are in games and usually it's a breakdown in one area or another that is doing them in these games where they come up short. But I think scoring a two goals a game isn't helping things. The chances are there but the finish hasn't.


Marc Crawford:

"You have to put points in the bank, and that's what we're trying to do. In the end, you have to look and say we didn't play well enough to get a win here. We didn't win the battles in front of the net and we didn't win the battles of the faceoffs tonight. We didn't have our best tonight. That happens sometimes."

Stephane Robidas:

"We gave them too much room. They skate and they can make plays, and they pass the puck real well.

On the penalty that led to the penalty shot: "That was totally my fault," Robidas said. "I was sleeping on that play and was a little too wide and gave him the middle a little too much."

Brad Richards:

"If you get five chances, you want to score five times, so we're not happy with it. Sometimes, you do a lot of things right and you just don't score. We weren't able to score, so we have to be able to do more."

Marty Turco:

"It is tough to build momentum. Things seem to happen a lot easier when you get on a roll. You don't feel like you're grinding it out. Some guys can get on a roll and carry a team. It hasn't been the case."


Dave Tippett is proud of the win:

"You'd be lying to say it wasn't," Tippett said when asked if the victory was special. "I was there for a long time and it's not just coaching, it's friendships. I want to beat them. I've moved on hockey-wise and they've moved on. There are still a lot of great people over there. I liken it to when brothers play against each other. When the puck drops, you play and which ever side your on you're trying to win."

"Desperation, compete level and everything we talk about was right there," said Tippett. "I thought there were a couple of calls that were questionable, but I liked the way our guys dug in. We battled through it. That's a good hockey team over there. Like I said before, they've got some high end forwards that can make things tough on you. I thought our guys battled right to the end, goaltender included."


The Stars did score on the power play last night, but they failed to take advantage of some big opportunities at key points in the game. Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov wasn't even tested, really.

"I didn't face a shot (on the final power play)," said goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov who made 26 saves. "The guys blocked everything, tremendous PK. They played so bravely, blocking everything, sliding in to the slot hard, just everywhere, competed hard."


Marc Crawford wasn't happy about the ice conditions last night:

". . . The same for both teams, but that ice was absolutely god-awful," he said. "And when it's a visiting coach arguing about it - I know home teams don't like to do it to their own building - but that was embarrassing, and it doesn't make for good power plays.

"Hopefully, now that they got their money here in Phoenix, they can do something about the ice here . . . It was like playing in Lambeau Field."


Finally, some notes from from last night's game, courtesy of

--Left wing Fabian Brunnstrom missed his second game because of an upper body injury.

--Center Brian Sutherby also missed the game because of a groin injury. Defenseman Mark Fistric moved up to the wing on a line with center Toby Petersen and right wing Krystofer Barch.

--Modano has a goal and assist in each of his last two games.

--Turco has stopped the last 13 penalty shots against him.

--Center Brad Richards was held without a point for the second straight game after an eight-game points string.

--Left wing Loui Eriksson extended his points streak to five games with an assist on Niskanen's goal.

--Turco lost for only the first time in regulation in his last seven starts (5-1-1).

--The Coyotes defeated Dallas for the fourth straight time.

--Dallas went 1-for-6 on the power play, while they killed off all three Phoenix man advantage opportunities.