So since the Stars won on Saturday I'll give you three guesses on how the Stars did tonight, but you'll only need one guess of course...
Frustration, thy name is Dallas Stars hockey.
I don't get it. I just don't understand it. How can a team with this kind of talent be so inconsistent?
The first period of this game the Stars looked solid, were going into the first intermission tied 1-1 and in most stat categories were even if not better than the Red Wings. Yeah sure the Stars gave up a flaky first goal again that bounced of Daley's chest and past a frozen Turco - a quick aside: why was Daley on top of the Stars crease and facing his own net like he was? - but overall they carried most of the play in the first. They got a late, late goal in the period to get the Wings doubting themselves.
And then the second period happened. Again!
Darren Helm scored five minutes in to make it 2-1, Dallas didn't get any kind of sustained pressure inside the Red Wings zone until they got just past the ten minute mark of the period and just when you thought Dallas might be ok, Dan Cleary scores at the twelve minute mark and from then on Detroit put on the clamps and Dallas for the rest of the game didn't really seem overly interested in trying to pry them off.
Take James Neal for example: Sixteen minutes ice time, no shots, one missed shot, one hit. Those are not James Neal-like numbers and that type of lethargic play seemed to be a bit contagious.
Oh sure, the Stars still played and even out shot the Wings in the third period, but none of those shots or chances were overly dangerous. Part of that you can chalk up to Wings goalie Jimmy Howard who outstanding all game and part of it you can chalk up to plain 'ol bad bounces and bad luck. I don't want to accuse this team of having no heart or desire to win games because I know that's not true - even in this game. There were moments where the Stars would have had glorious chances to score a goal and get back into the game if not for a missed shot or a timely poke check. At the same time though, you have to work harder for those chances. There is a famous saying that goes "Luck is the residue of hard work" so that being the case, the Stars simply need to work harder it would seem.
Meanwhile the team defense again was out of place multiple times in the game which led to three different goals being deflected in past Marty Turco and while Matt Niskanen did show some slight signs of improvement, Karlis Skrastins and Nik Grossman had off nights. Then again Turco as well looked like he was having an off night and at times moved about as rapidly as a snail when Detroit was throwing pucks on net. But we can't really blame him for the bad night because as I just mentioned, the defense in front of him really wasn't helping much. Thankfully Stephane Robidas kept up his hot, hot play with five hits and yet another point - an assist off a Brenden Morrow tip-in for the Stars lone goal in the game. Even special teams for Dallas was a mixed bag with the penalty kill going a perfect 4 for 4, but the power play looking anything but with an oh for four night.
*looks over last few paragraphs*
See what I mean here? Part of me wants to just blast the Stars for not playing to full potential and part of me wants to forgive the guys for just running into dumb luck and bad breaks and at least focus on the few positives that seem to spring up from every loss they've had this season as a beacons of hope that this isn't last season all over again.
I assume the solution to the Stars problems with inconsistency lay somewhere in the middle of all that. Putting in a full sixty minutes, not allowing themselves to let the bad breaks dictate their play and working hard enough to create puck luck in front of the opposing net.
On Saturday I listed off twelve Dallas Stars as either potential 2010 Olympians or at the very least were getting (or in Niskanen's case, had been getting) a look from their respective countries. The fine gentlemen over at Second City Hockey where they cover the first place in the west Blackhawks? They only mentioned nine players! Now it's not that I think Dallas is that much more talented than Chicago, but I do think it's an indication that these Dallas Stars do have a fair amount of talent on their roster.
This Dallas Stars season so far reminds me of that famous scene in the movie The Matrix where the Oracle breaks news to Neo by saying: "You have the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something..."
We're still waiting.