The Stars TV ad's have it right: March IS the playoffs and it sure felt like it tonight between two teams from different conferences. The Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers played a heck of a hockey game tonight that the Stars only managed to get one point out of as they lose in a shootout 3-2.
Sure it's not the result we Stars fans were really looking for but anyone who watched the game has to be encouraged by the fact the Stars overall played a heck of a game and after a regular so-so first period effort, really took it to Philly especially after falling behind 2-0 a little over a minute into the second period. The Stars started matching the physical play of the Flyers and actually seemed much quicker than the Flyers and kept pressure up most of the game with a very solid forecheck.
Alex Goligoski got the Stars rally started at the 12:44 mark with a point shot that found it's way past a Mike Ribeiro screened Sergei Bobrovsky and Stephane Robidas tied things with a booming slapshot from the top of the slot int he Flyers zone with a little over five minutes left in the third period.
A frenetic finish to regulation and an even more chaotic overtime solved nothing and in the shootout the Flyers were able to steal away the extra point with a Ville Leino goal that you could argue Kari Lehtonen maybe played a little too-aggressively if we were to nitpick at the one thing he did wrong tonight against an otherwise solid performance from.
Sure two points would have been better, but one is at least something and it helps keep the Stars right in the middle of things without losing any ground to a western conference team.
- Kudos to the Stars defensive unit... Or what was left of it by the end of the game. Nicklas Grossman left early in the first with what the Stars called a "lower body" injury to put them down a man, then Karlis Skrastins left with an injury in the third period. Goligoski logged 31 minutes of ice time, Robidas had 30 minutes and Daley had 25 minutes for the game and all three still played quite well with those circumstances. Jeff Woywitka had a decent game as well and while I know there have been many clamoring to see him scratched in favor of mark Fistric, Woywitka as he had earlier this year when needed played some solid minutes and wasn't a liability on the ice tonight.
- Jamie Benn's point streak extends to ten games thanks to an assist he got on the Goligoski goal. As always he had a monster game.
- Other Stars getting points: Morrow, Ott and Benn all had solo helpers.
- Brad Richards had a pretty good game as well even though he didn't show up on the scoresheet. six shots on goal, four more missed shots and for other shots he took were blocked. You could tell he misses having Loui on his wing, but overall a good night for Brad.
- Krys Barch also appeared to be hurt in the game as well as he only took one 35 second shift early in the game. Add to that Steve Ott who took a high stick in the third period that cut him up pretty bad and this three day break the Stars are about to get is kinda timely injury wise.
- Dating back to 1998, I've always felt that picking guys for a shotoout wasn't exactly a Marc Crawford specialty and it showed again tonight. Brandon Segal taking a shot before Brenden Morrow, or Goligoski or even Thomas Vincour? Strange.
- Mike Ribiero continues to almost single-handedly bring down the Stars winning percentage on faceoffs. It's a tough call because Ribs is great at center any other time, but going 5 and 15 in the faceoff dot puts a massive hurt on the Stars chances to win games. At this rate though the only guys you can maybe get to help take the load of Ribs would be Tom Wandell who has had ups and downs this season with his faceoff work and Jamie Benn who really has enough pressure on him to be great at everything else on the ice let alone face offs. Maybe it's time to lock Ribs in a room with Stu Barnes and don't let Ribs out until he wins 10 face offs in a row against Stu... That would help right?
- The Defending Big D post-game question: With 10 games now remaining on the schedule, what record do you feel is required by the Stars to ensure a playoff spot? Tonight's lost point - though it doesn't help - isn't a critical hit against the Stars playoff chances. Next week is very critical as it's games against Anaheim and at Nashville - two teams chasing down the Stars. Win those two or at least get single points out of them and I think the Stars can go .500 or 6 and 4 and be ok. Lose those two in regulation and I think the Stars need to go 7 and 3 at worst to get to the promised land.
1 - Sergei Bobrovsky (PHI)
2 - Stephane Robidas (DAL)
3 - Andrej Meszaros (PHI)