"If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got."
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Since November 6th, the Stars have 7 wins. They also have, can you guess? That's right, 7 losses. Win one, lose one, win one, lose one. If they can expect to get "what they've always got" from doing this same thing over and over again, then I suppose 7th or 8th place in the Western Conference standings would be a pretty welcome result. Unfortunately, we all know that's probably not going to cut it. Nor should it. 6-6 CFB teams shouldn't be allowed to go to bowl games and hockey teams that can't win back to back games probably shouldn't be allowed to play playoff hockey.
Dallas now embarks on a huge Pacific road swing that will go a long way toward bolstering their position for the busy months ahead, or putting them in a hole from which they'll attempt a desperate escape. The Kings, the Sharks, the Thrashers...These teams are playing great hockey. They'll see the Ducks again, who will likely want those two fluke goals back, and the Hurricanes, who had an impressive showing against the Canucks yesterday. It's a tough five game swing.
As for the game yesterday, there are a lot of excuses to throw out there. Afternoon games are tough, sure, but both teams had to be up at the same time. For my money, the Stars played 20 minutes of hockey yesterday and got one point for their trouble. That's not a bad exchange rate. The biggest positive I take into the road trip is Marty Turco. He bounced back nicely from a shaky outing at The Joe and looked great against the Ducks and the Oil. Barring a hitherto unforeseen offensive explosion, they'll need him to be strong if they are to have a successful road trip.
After the jump, quotes and reaction from yesterday afternoon's game...
Dallas is 4-0-2 in its last six games at home, but the Stars bemoaned the loss of an extra point on Saturday.
"It was 2-0 and then 2-1 with 3 minutes left," Ribeiro said. "I think we should have been able to close it out. When you don't have the lead and you come back and tie the game and lose in the shootout, you're like, 'OK, we got the point.' But when you have the lead and then lose in the shootout, it's a little bit harder."
That they were only three minutes away from a win after playing a game that poorly is a positive. Everyone has off-nights, and the Stars gave themselves a chance to win on an off night. They just couldn't seal the deal.
It was only a matter of time before Ladislav Smid got one.
But who knew it would be almost two full years?
He sure didn't.
"It's been 151 games?" he asked incredulously. "Wow. It's a great feeling, especially since it helped the team to come back and win."
If you're going to break a slump that dates back to April 2007, you might as well make it count, and Smid's tying goal with 3:07 left in regulation yesterday was one of the biggest markers of the season, helping lift Edmonton to 2-0 on this road trip.
Once again, the Stars couldn't win in a shootout. They are now 1-6 in shootouts this season. And Saturday's was particularly disappointing in that they were up 2-0 and blew the lead, falling to Edmonton, 3-2.
Coach Marc Crawford went with Brad Richards, James Neal and Loui Eriksson. Then, when it shifted to sudden death, he put Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow out there.
I can't fault the selections. I might have been tempted to put Ribeiro in that first three, but he has struggled like everyone else lately in shootouts.
The team works on these things in practice. I don't know what else they can do to improve it.
Like it or not, the shootout is part of the game. The shootout will help decide which teams go to the playoffs and which teams stay home. The Stars have now lost 6 points to the shootout, and will likely participate in 6 or 7 more at least. If the Stars miss the playoffs, IF... It's likely they won't miss them by more than 2-7 points or so, one would think, and the shootout will have an angry finger pointed it's way come seasons end.
But, they did not extend the lead in the second or third periods and they seemed to really battle to get things done. Marc Crawford said he thought the team had an especially hard time moving the puck out of the back end, and that was in part because the Oilers sensed problems and really pushed the forecheck hard.
Will other teams follow suit and continue to put extra pressure on this team's young defensemen? And what do you do to rectify that short of making a trade?
"The shootout foiled us again tonight," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "We got in a position to get a win and Brenden’s shot was a good one, hit the post. And they found a way to squeeze it through Marty, Horcoff. We hope (shootouts) will turn into the right thing. This was a game that probably falls more in the category of we shouldn’t have ever let it get to a shootout."
"There have been some missed opportunities," acknowledged center Mike Modano. "Then again, there’s some games that we don’t even belong in that we sneak out some points. It all over the course of a year evens itself out. You look back at what you could have got, but then you have to look back at what you had no business getting them out of anyway. But these shootouts have been a little snag in our game the last couple years."
"Maybe it’s in our head a little bit, but we got to bear down in the shootout," said winger James Neal, who scored a goal in the game but shot wide on his shootout attempt. "We put emphasis on it in practice, too. It’s tough, so many points are lost, especially with the amount of shootouts we’ve been in. We don’t want to let those one points slip away from you. Guys got to be confident, you’ve got to go in knowing you’re going to score."
Robidas on the penalty:
Dallas then had to kill off one of the strangest penalties of the season, when Stephane Robidas was called for ‘interference’ for sliding Turco’s goalie stick towards him from the left corner while the Oilers were entering the zone on a rush.
"I don’t know, he said I can’t throw the stick," Robidas said of the referee. "But that’s the thing, I didn’t throw the stick, I just brought it to Marty, but he said no. I couldn’t really argue with him, he’s got the final call."
Judging from the reaction at Copper and Blue, Smid's goal yesterday was the equivalent of Karlis Skrastins or Krys Barch coming up with a big goal late in a game:
It was Ladislav Smid who did it, too, so I was worried at first. "Goddammit," I said, "I'm hallucinating." I immediately drank more coffee, but the distressing visions are still there: that tall drink of water wearing number 5 celebrating like he'd just done the impossible, which I suppose he had. I should have caught on when Ryan Stone picked up a goal or when Jean-Francois Jacques and Patrick O'Sullivan got a two-on-one and didn't completely muff it: the ordinary rules of hockey didn't apply today. Something about playing while the sun was still high had turned us into the Bizzaro Oilers, capable of looking like a proper NHL team for entire shifts at a stretch.
So you know what? Forget what I said a few paragraphs up. Day games for the rest of the season! I want to watch the sunrise and then watch the Oilers! I want to see Dustin Penner slogging to the rink at four in the morning still in his bathrobe! I want the post-game spreads to be bacon and eggs! We might finally be able to grasp a prize worthier than the "Participant" ribbon which has characterized the 2009-10 season.
The "insanity" of trying the same thing over and over again continues on Tuesday night in Anaheim with what we can only assume will be a win. 9:00pm start time. Don't forget the Red Bull.