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Drifting Away Into Mediocrity; Stars Drop Third Straight In New York, 5-2

This team is heading in the wrong direction... 
They are not so much stuck in neutral anymore as they have now put it in reverse.

 

 

This is the time that is going to be the hardest for Dallas Stars fans. We've never been here before, really. The team is sliding, falling ever deeper into Western Conference obscurity and instead of improving they're getting steadily worse. Teams go through lulls in the season (this is first time the Stars have lost three in a row in regulation since last season) but the tough pill to swallow is that this team hasn't shown you much to give you hope there's a bright light on the other side.

Since putting together what really was a very solid two weeks of hockey, culminating in two straight wins over the Blackhawks and Ducks, the Stars have fallen completely flat at the exact moment they desperately needed points. By the time the Stars play again on Saturday, they could find themselves eight points behind 8th place and losing ground. 

After the jump, further thoughts on tonight's game.

 

  • I was uncertain how I felt about Sean Avery on this particular night, and after taking some time to think it out I've decided that was very impressed with what he did on the ice against the Stars. This Sean Avery was the player the Stars had hoped to get when he signed last summer, and while the locker room issues were his ultimate undoing we never saw him play at this level before. Avery had a goal and three primary assists, several dumb penalties and the Stars were more preoccupied with him than they were with stopping the puck and playing defense. This is what it's like to be on the other side of the score when Steve Ott is at his best, and this is what Avery was supposed to do in Dallas. 

    Instead, he absolutely embarrasses his former team, driving a stake through the heart of a team that is paying him $2 million to play elsewhere. You could instantly see that Avery wanted this, that he wanted to do all he could to make life miserable for the Stars and now they are going to be the laughing stock of the hockey world for one night. Tomorrow, there will be headlines on Puck Daddy and NHL.com and elsewhere lamenting Avery's career game against the Dallas Stars.

    His answer for why tonight was different "Two teams were paying me."

    It makes me want to vomit.
  • Speaking of those Avery penalties, for every good thing he did tonight he did something idiotic. Except the Stars, just like they haven't done all season long, were incapable of taking advantage of those opportunities and squandered five power plays and several prime scoring chances when the game was still in doubt. Jamie Benn was unable to score on a shorthanded breakaway, Brad Richards hit the pipe on an open shot from the slot and the Stars had minimal pressure on a lengthy 5-on-3 in the second period.
  • The one thing I have to wonder is how differently this game might have gone had Marty Turco not had one of his worst games of his career. He's always been a goaltender known for making incredible saves, yet allowing soft goals at the worst times. Tonight, every time the Stars made an effort to take the lead or at least climb back in it and tie the game, Turco allows another soft goal. An NHL goaltender of his 'talent' should NEVER allow a goal from the distance Kotalik scored from, a back breaking goal that negated the work the Stars put in to tie the game at 2-2 early in the second period.

    The Stars had a good start to this game, took the lead in the first period and at least showed signs they were infinitely more interested in this game more than last night's. Yet after Turco allowed two goals to give the Rangers a late lead in the first, and then the long goal to Kotalik in the second, all of the fight was gone from the Stars. They gave up, essentially and the fire was gone if it ever was there.
  • Still no word on Mike Ribeiro, but it doesn't look good. After being speared in the face (accidentally), Ribeiro left the game was taken for X-rays. If Ribeiro is out for any amount of time, there are a couple of candidates in Austin I'd like to see get some playing time. Colton Sceviour is having a great start to his pro career (+14 in 38 games) or we could also see Pertuu Lindgren a second time.

    At any rate, it was obvious the loss of Ribeiro stunned the Stars and affected them as the game went on. When a team is searching for cohesiveness and offensive production, losing it's second center and a staple on the penalty kill will hurt many attempts at a comeback. As much as we've been down on him this season, an extended loss of Ribeiro will not be good for the Stars.
  • Right now the general feel among fans (and myself) is that this team has lost it's heart and it's will to fight, both figuratively and literally. The biggest indication you have that this is a group of players that don't believe in themselves as an actual team is how there was a complete lack of reaction to the way a number of Stars players were mistreated tonight by the Rangers. Love him or hate him, Marty Turco is still your goaltender. When he get's plowed into and run over on purpose, this team needs to react in some way. There was none, zero; I'm not saying I want an all-out brawl on the ice but at least show some backbone and stick up for your teammates.

    Later in the game, James Neal is taken out with a brutal trip as he crosses the ice. Not going to say it was intentional, but it was far from a simple incidental trip. Once again, no fight back from the Dallas Stars. This is a team that is seemingly resolved to being mediocre and doesn't seem to be all too concerned with showing the heart it takes to climb out of this hole.
  • Is this a team that can turn it around, pull together in the locker room and get past this frustration? At this point, I don't have much faith. During last night's podcast, I found myself getting surprisingly emotional when discussing Brenden Morrow. It hurts me so far deep down to think of this guy negatively, not after all he's done for this team over the years. He's been the heart and soul of the Stars for so long, it's nearly impossible for me to fathom can't do it now. Yet he's disappeared in this tough stretch of games and instead of Morrow causing havoc and giving it his all in the final minutes we have Tom Wandell, Toby Petersen, Karlis Skrastins, Mark Fistric and Jere Lehtinen laying it on the line.

    Yet it's Morrow this team needs more than anyone to step up, and right now that's not happening. And don't know if he will at this point, and that hurts me more than anything else.