Maybe tonight it's just best to say that the Dallas Stars may have had plenty in spirit, but the bodies once again weren't able to stay strong through all three periods tonight as the Detroit Red Wings poured it on in the third period and coasted to a 5-2 win.
As it was last night in Pittsburgh, the Stars did start off with the important first goal lead thanks to Loui Eriksson on the power play, and they were able to battle back in the second period to tie the game at 2-2 with a Brenden Morrow marker. But outside of those two efforts, this game was mostly all about the Red Wings who dominated the game with good puck possession and a constant barrage of shots on Andrew Raycroft who got the start for the Stars and ended up falling to 0 and 3 for the season.
For the Stars, the killer four game road trip finishes at an even two wins and two losses which isn't bad all things considered, but it does feel like a bit of a let down considering how well they started.
So what went wrong exactly? - Well for a second night in a row the Stars were up against a deeper and more talented club that skates well, isn't afraid to play a physical pressuring game and has better than average goaltending. For the Stars to have a chance most nights they have to be the more physical team and more importantly win the majority of battles for loose pucks in open space and along the boards, and they were outplayed in both of those aspects tonight by the Red Wings.
About that whole 'protecting the front of the net' thing... - Quite simply the Stars didn't do that as four of the five Wings goals came with a Detroit player (or players) parked right in front of Raycroft. The Red Wings are maybe the best in the NHL at having players who are relentless in driving the net and making life miserable for opposing defenses and tonight was no exception. It was bad enough that it was a virtual shooting gallery on Rayzor tonight (40 Red Wing shots on goal with another 14 missing the net on top of that) but having to see a lot of those shots through a screen made for a tough night.
So this loss isn't on Raycroft? - Well, I don't know. Raycroft's aggressiveness to challenge shooters did help him in a handful of key saves that kept the score from looking even worse, but Andrew's biggest issue as always was him not being square to shooters that led to some easy goals. He wasn't square on Kronwall's shot in the first period and was caught leaning too far to one side or another on three other goals against.. Again part of that is being screened but is it maybe fair to say that he doesn't have quite the vision and see the puck as well as a Kari Lehtonen does?
But at least Morrow scored right? - Signs of life for the Morrow / Ribeiro / Ryder line? The line only managed 3 shots on goal total and it was Ribs doing most of the work for the line. Keep in mind Morrow is playing hurt (elbow injury) and as was the knock on him in Boston, Ryder needs his teammates to be clicking for him to produce as well.
And about those special teams... - It was better tonight for Dallas on both sides. They did manage to go 1 for 2 on the power play and went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill. And while I'm not one to question the head coach often on these things, is putting Toby Petersen on the point for a power play really a smart idea? I know Toby has played some defense before but as was evidenced by 2 on 1 that the Stars gave up while on a power play in the second period, Petersen isn't exactly good at covering what would be his man covering the odd man rush against... They may have to rethink that one with Goligoski out for the next month or so.
There we go looking for silver linings again. - The Stars did play the final nine minutes or so with a little more fire and grit - partly not wanting to be completely pushed around by the big bad bullies from Detroit - and did manage to string a few scoring chances on the Wings late. Is that partly because the Wings got a little lazy with a three goal lead? Probably, but considering that in the third the Stars had only managed 2 shots for the first 10 minutes of the period and finished with 9, it's at least a good sign right?
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Johan Franzen (DET)
2 - Brad Stuart (DET)
3 - Valtteri Filppula (DET)
7:09 - DAL PP - Eriksson (9) Assists: Daley (4), Benn (14)
17:17 - DET - Kronwall (4) Assists: Cleary (3), Holmstrom (4)
3:08 - DET - White (3) Assists: Miller (4), Lidstrom (6)
12:11 - DAL - Morrow (3) Assists: Ribiero (10), Burish (5)
3:47 - DET - Franzen (9) Assists: Flippula (9), Stuart (1)
9:19 - DET - Helm (2) Assist: Hudler (5)
10:32 - DET - Stuart (1) Assists: Franzen (7), Flippula (10)