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Stargazing: Turco Stops 39 of 40, Stars Lose to Columbus

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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.

That math is getting is getting pretty ugly, and as reality sets in, this is getting excruciatingly painful. In their last 12 periods of road hockey, they've scored 3 goals. We talk about Marty Turco every day. We talk about the extreme lack of money spent on the defense, and the lack of talent there, but in the end all you have to do is outscore the other team, and when you're scoring 0.75 goals per game on the road (over their last four road games) not even saving 39 of 40 shots is good enough. We can't ask Marty to be any better than he was last night.

I am becoming exasperated beyond the point of wanting to look at these games individually any more. I find myself pining for the days when I could complain about their "win one-lose one-win one-lose one" streaks. Now it's just lose-one-lose-one-lose-one. There are excuses every night. "Luongo stole that one," "The Devils are just a great team," "Marty let in some soft ones," "Marty was great but we couldn't score." The Blue Jackets allowed 7 goals in their last home game, and the Stars got nothing. It's not injuries. It's not the home team getting the last change. Other road teams have injuries. Other road teams have to deal with the home team getting the last change. It's not something different every night. It's the Stars.

The optimists will point to the standings. They're only 4 points of eighth, right? I want to believe that sounds like a very small hill to climb. I very badly want to believe that. But climbing hills requires winning streaks. Did you know that the win last night was Columbus' third in a row? They've won three in a row a few times this season.

Today on Stargazing we'll take a look at some interesting playoff math from Andrew's, and we'll see what others around the web think about last night's ineptitude exhibition in Ohio...


Follow the jump to read on...

"The Points Race"

Based on the points pace of the team ranked 8th in the Western Conference in points percentage over the past month, the current points pace for the final playoff spot seems to be zeroing in at around 96 to 97 points.

So what do you need to get, say, 97 points? The bottom line is a team needs to have 15 more wins than regulation losses. It doesn't matter how it stacks up. A record 15-0-67 adds up to 97 points the same as 42-27-13, except the team with the 42 wins takes a tiebreaker.

The Stars, who dropped to 19-15-11 with Sunday's regulation loss in Columbus, are now at a pace for 89 points. To hit the 97 point mark over their final 37 games of the season they would have to have 11 more wins than regulation losses to push them to a plus-15 for the season and hit 97 points.

To get 96 points the Stars would need a plus-14 as far as wins to regulation losses. For the Stars that would mean a plus-10 over the final 37 games or a points percentage of .635. That would be a record of 23-13-1, 22-12-3, 21-11-5, etc.

Thanks to Mark Stepneski for doing the math. They nearly need to win two out of every three they play. They're currently losing four out of every five. That's quite a turnaround. Do you think they can do it?

Dbd-sm_medium highlights the near misses:

The Stars threw everything at Garon in the final stages of the third period, but the 32-year-old stood tall in the crease. With the Blue Jackets clinging to a 1-0 lead, Mike Modano had a glorious chance to tie the game with 2:26 left in regulation when he went in alone on Garon from the Columbus blue line.

Modano streaked in, put a nifty move on Garon, and deftly tried slipping the puck between the goalie's pads. But Garon somehow got his leg on it, and then was just as fortunate when Steve Ott's rebound attempt sailed over the net.

Before that, Dallas almost tied it with 6:22 to go in regulation when Stephane Robidas' wrister from the right point rang off the post after being deflected by Tom Wandell.

Wandell, pointless in 18 of his last 19 games, is probably not the guy you want your shots deflecting off of.


Head on over to the Morning News to get Mike Heika's take on things:

This team right now is like one of those little pieces of popcorn that get stuck in your teeth and no matter if you pick at it with your finger or a pencil or some of those pointy tweezers you use to pull your toe hairs out with, you just can't get the darn thing out of your teeth. I mean it makes you feel like you're gonna die (that's my homage to Gilda Radner).

That's an obtuse way to say this team is both frustrating and amusing.

I mean as tough as it is to follow them on a daily basis, you have to laugh at how they find ways to lose games.

Just when you think Marty Turco is the worst goalie in the NHL, he pulls out a 39-save performance and gives his team every chance to win (or at least gather points). It was 1-0 until Columbus scored with 3.8 seconds left in the game on an empty-netter. (And, by the way, Turco's career best is 43 saves in a game in OT).

Sadly, people will still think Marty is the worst goalie in the NHL. By the way, I had to google "Gilda Radner." Sorry Mike, I'm only 27.

Dbd-sm_medium has quotes from the Blue Jackets side of things...

''You just reach a stage where you get sick of losing, so you're going to have to play a certain way,'' Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''Every good team plays that way, it doesn't matter the system of play. The harder you check, the more chances you get, and we're checking hard. Everybody's checking hard.''

Garon, who has at least temporarily taken over the starting role from last season's Calder Trophy winner, Steve Mason, was also in net for wins in Edmonton and Calgary that allowed Columbus to snap a 13-game road losing streak.

''I just wanted to be patient,'' Garon said. ''He's a skilled guy and when I saw the second guy [Ott] coming for the rebound I panicked a little bit, but I got lucky, got a stick on it.''

''We knew we could play that way and now we're playing that way,'' he said. ''We're playing really good defensively, we get the goals when we need them and we can kill penalties.''

It was the perfect Hitchcock game plan. Wait for the other team to make a mistake, get a lead, and then drag the other team down into the muck with you and grind it out. Dallas seems to capitulate to the style the other team wants to play most nights lately. They tried it their way early in the game and that didn't work, then they tried it Hitch's way later in the game and that didn't work either.


The report from the Columbus Dispatch should have Stars fans feeling quite jealous. They say their "cloud is lifting"...

The cloud is lifting. It might even be gone. That is the feeling in the Blue Jackets’ locker room. That is the way it looks on the ice.

The Jackets came home and transported a crowd of 14,501 at Nationwide Arena. They took the fans back to last season, when their goaltending was nonpareil, their defense was stingy and their offense was at least adequate. "Tight-checking" is the way to describe them.

The Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars, 2-0. It was a taut game, fraught with danger, up until Antoine Vermette slapped in an empty-net goal with 3.8 seconds remaining. The fans were dug in and responsive, and they provided more than one ovation down the stretch.

After a 3-14-7 jag that included a nine-game losing streak, the Jackets have won three in a row. They beat the Oilers 4-2 in Edmonton Thursday. They beat the Flames 3-2 in Calgary Friday. They beat the Stars tonight. Six points in four days.

"There is some smiling in the locker room again," center R.J. Umberger said. "When we lose, we feel it the most of anybody. We’re the ones doing the losing. But we can breathe again now. We can have fun again. We can get back into this. We don’t want to just win a few games. We want to get back into this."

Sounds like good times.


As usual, not many quotes to be had on the road...

James Neal:

''We played a good game against the Islanders and we're trying to get back on the right track … it's going back to consistency, you want to come in here and keep that going,'' forward James Neal said. ''We were struggling big-time before this. You kind of want to get out of the basement. It was a tough one tonight. We've got to keep crashing the net and putting pucks there, and good things will happen.''


"We did get some glorious chances, and we didn't put them away," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "Anytime you get two breakaways, and you've got good guys taking them, you hope to get something out of it."


"Things are just starting to pile up where we just can't put together a complete game," Turco said. "We're accomplishing a lot of great things almost every night, but that next step, whether that's a swagger or attitude or just being able to win hockey games, we have to take that next step."

I suppose no one likes to talk after a loss, eh?