It would seem the Stars left the energy and tenacity they had on full display last night back in Dallas as the first road game of the season didn't exactly go as we had hoped. It was an ugly game in all aspects for the Stars as the Chicago Blackhawks made the most of their home opener with a 5-2 win.
Well at least the Texas Rangers had a playoff game so there couldn't have been that many eyes watching the brutality on TV...
What's that you say? There was a rain delay right about the time the Hawks picked up two goals in the second period to really put the game out of reach and it's likely that fans flipped the channel at that moment to get a peak at the Stars?
The final score you could say flatters the Stars some and doesn't tell the full story of how mental mistakes and lazy plays were their ultimate undoing tonight. Andrew Raycroft completely whiffing on what should have been a glove save for the Hawks second goal. Steve Ott carelessly swinging his stick shoulder level and taking a high stick penalty that killed any momentum the Stars got when they tallied their first goal. The Stars not covering Jonathan Toews coming out of the penalty box which of course resulted in a breakaway chance and what ended up being the game winning goal. The too many men penalty in the third that was sloppy and again killed any chance the Stars had to make things interesting minutes after a Steve Ott goal made it 4-2.
And so on and so on... It wasn't a pleasant way to spend the first Saturday night of the season for Stars fans.
(More thoughts in our post game thread, and be sure to check back later for more details in a full recap!)
"Rayzor" not sharp : One of the biggest question marks the Stars had leading into this season was the backup goaltender situation and how exactly that would play out. After tonight I think that question has now graduated into "area of major concern" territory as Andrew Raycroft got the start and looked shaky at best all night. His rebound control was non existent and his positioning and ability to square up to shooters wasn't much better.
This isn't a loss that you put on his shoulders as there were a lot more issues in front of him that led to the defeat, but if you watched last night's game and tonight's game I think it's easy to see that the biggest difference from when Kari Lehtonen is in net to when Raycroft is in goal is that the team plays with less confidence in front of Andrew, and his performance - especially on the Bolland goal (which we'll get to in a moment) didn't inspire any.
Seriously Souray : I don't know which Stars players actually read our blog, but I'd like to think someone got the message to Studly Wonderbomb that I was looking to do a running tally of goals scored by or that came directly as a result of a Souray bomb from the point... That count is up to 2 after tonight after Steve Ott tipped home a Souray wrister on the power play in the third period. He also looked pretty good taking part in the penalty kill and looks to be a go-to guy to clear out traffic in front of the Stars net.
Top lines not playing like top lines : It's not like they had a horrible night, but even with all the talk that the Stars now have more depth at forward they still need their top two lines to produce and they didn't. Glen Gulutzan was shaking up the lines from the second period on to try and get something out of his top players and putting together Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Steve Ott on a line did seem to provide a slight spark but for now and the next few games we may have to live with Coach Gully tinkering with different combinations - other than the Morrow, Ryder & Ribs line which I am sure is almost set in stone even though that line as well didn't generate much in terms of offense.
Dealing with bumps and bruises : Adam Burish returned to the lineup tonight and looked pretty good dealing out a handful of hits and mixing it up with his former teammates. Brendan Morrow looked to have winded himself in the third period after a rather hard hit against the boards. Vernon Fiddler - who for some reason was the target of a few Hawks hits tonight - also was slow to get up after taking a Patrick Sharp hit in open ice.
Turning point : Hard to pick just one here... Raycroft letting in a very soft Dave Bolland shot was equal to being kicked in the gut, but Ott taking a very careless high sticking penalty minutes after the Stars had cut the Hawks lead to two goals did it's damage as well. Ott was just trying to make a play on the puck and it was by no means intentional, but you need to take care of where your stick is and Ott didn't.
Fiddler on the roof : Maybe the Hawks were just upset that Fiddler showed amazing touch in-close at the net with his goal in the second period that he lifted over the shoulder of a dipping Corey Crawford. The somewhat funny thing is that Fiddler was brought in to be a guy that wins faceoffs and yet his first two games he's been below 50% in that area. It's his play making ability though that has looked pretty good so far.
Fight card : Jake Dowell took on Jamal Mayers in the first period and did pretty well for himself. The judges likely scored it as a decision win for Mayers but at least Dowell scored the take down.
Dallas Points : Fiddler (1 goal), Ott (1 goal), Souray (1assist), Benn (1 assist), Burish (1 assist) Alex Goligoski (1 assist)
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Dave Bolland (CHI)
2 - Patrick Sharp (CHI)
3 - Jonathan Toews (CHI)