Editors note: I'd like to officially welcome Pat Iversen to the DefendingBigD family as he makes his first post here today.
That sound you heard last night? That was the sound of all the momentum and excitement surrounding the Stars flying out of the AAC.
Not that anyone was there to hear it.
The week leading up to the Olympic break was a season-high for the Stars. They had ridden a red-hot Marty Turco through Chicago, Calgary and Phoenix, gaining 5 out of a possible 6 points. The road woes finally seemed erased. Marty had gained our confidence again. And the Stars were sitting right on the edge of eighth place, looking primed for a playoff run. We Stars fans had every reason to feel good about things.
Then last night happened, and we're back to worrying. The Stars looked flat, out of place, and simply not right. The Stars defensemen were easily dominated in their own zone by the Kings, and there was absolutely no fight in front of the net. There were the usual suspects (namely Matt Niskanen), but even Karlis Skrastins looked terrible last night. I think Art described his play on the Ryan Smyth goal best when he said Skrastins was hanging off Smyth like a wet dish towel.
Many will point to the break as the culprit, but the thing to think about here is that perhaps Turco's play was simply disguising the weakness on defense. Now? It might be safe to assume that last night's loss reminded him and the team of just how far away they are from being more than just average.
Then again, I could just be knee jerking. We'll have to see how these next few games play out.
Don't forget tonight at 7:00pm CST:
Follow the jump for quotes and analysis of last night's depressing loss......
Kings Coach Terry Murray was a bit concerned about Quick's response coming out of the Olympics, where Team USA's No. 3 goaltender practiced little. But outside of a third-period Stars power-play goal, Quick was stellar. His 36th victory bests the previous team mark of 35 set by Mario Lessard in the 1980-81 season.
Quick also tallied an assist on Brad Richardson's second-period goal.
Rust "is something you think about," Quick said of his quiet Olympic fortnight. "But once you get down to the rink and back into your routine, everything starts to feel natural. I need to be sharp, but I caught a couple lucky breaks there and I got a lot of support from the team scoring five goals there."
It did seem last night that the longer the game went on, the better he got. He faced 25 shots in the final two periods compared to seven in the first. The only time he looked 'rusty' was when he tried to flip the puck up ice with two Stars barreling towards the net. Instead the puck bounced back towards him off his defenseman and caused a moment of chaos. After that, things started to settle down for him.
Looking at it right now, the Stars are sitting in 10th behind Detroit and Calgary, two points out of a playoff spot. With the loss last night, the Thursday game against St. Louis becomes important considering the extremely tough road trip (Pittsburgh, Washington, and Buffalo) the Stars face.
In a nutshell, they were flat. The execution was lacking, especially in the defensive end. They seemed a step behind most of the night. Put all that together and you're likely to get run over by a good team like the Kings.
There wasn't much help for Marty Turco out there. Those were some quality chances he had to face, guys right on the doorstep a few times.
I know that a lot of people on the game day thread last night were calling for Turco to be traded. Instead, I think if we are to see any move today by the Stars, it will be on defense. As great as the games leading up to the Olympic break were, last night reminded everyone how much the Stars' blue line is lacking.
As usual, DallasStars.com has some interesting tidbits from last nights game:
Turco became the 57th NHL goalie to play 500 career games, and is now amoung five goaltenders all-time who've reached the 500-game plateau with just one team.
Ribeiro has points in each of the four games since returning from his serious throat injury.
Center Brad Richards picked up his 50th assist of the season on Ribeiro's goal. It's the fourth time in Richards' career that he's reached the 50-helper club.
Crawford remains two wins shy of 500 career NHL victories.
I would bet Kari Lehtonen gets his Stars debut on Thursday against the Blues. It needs to happen, and it probably needs to happen at home. I know some of you would have liked to have seen him in the third period against the Kings, but I just think you need to give him his own start and let him prepare for the game the right way.
I tend to agree here. Putting Lehtonen in last night would not have been the greatest idea.
Brandon Segal on the effect the break had on the team:
"If you look at the score tonight, it was kind of a nuisance to have that break, but obviously everyone enjoys having the Olympic break...In regards to how we were doing before - we were playing really well. The break kind of took our momentum away a little bit. We've just got to go back to practice tomorrow and regroup and come out on Thursday ready to go."
"The chances that we had to score - we had a few chances, we could have tied this game. We got good, quality chances in the slot and we couldn't put them in. I'm disappointed in the chances, and that we only had 20 or 25 shots."
On the defensive woes:
"We're a team that needs everybody and we know that. and we had a few too many passengers tonight and we can't. We're at that level that we can't have three or four of five guys not be at a pretty optimum level, especially on our defensive core. Tonight we did."
"You certainly can't pin [the loss] on Marty. He wasn't as good as their guy, but at the same time, we can't give up those low cycle-walk chances that are tap-in goals. No goalie in the world is going to stop those goal mouth ones and they had two or three of those tonight."
Terry Murray, Kings coach on the increasingly amazing Drew Doughty:
"He had a great game. He had the puck a lot, he made some really good plays...He was sharp, alert, he brought good focus again. I was clearly concerned about the Olympians coming back and I stepped back with their intensity, but everyone was on board and on page here tonight."
Speaking of Olympians, how about Brenden Morrow last night? He seemed incredibly energized, something we haven't seen of late.
Karlis Skrastins......not so much.