Are you frustrated, Mr. or Mrs. Dallas Stars fan? You're not alone.
"We missed some point blank opportunities," head coach Lindy Ruff observed last night.
"We had an open net and we ended up hitting them," he recounted.
I thought our puck movement was good. We had a break away, we didn't score, they had one and they did score," he recalled.
"We had a couple, but you have to give Mason a lot of credit. We could have built some momentum," he opined.
Then the most tried and true comment after a quality effort does not translate into the desired results: "If we play like that night after night, we will win."
It's perfectly true. If they play that way they'll win their fair share. But there have been too many of those nights this year, and not enough points stolen on down nights, like the Phoenix Coyotes do- Now up on the Stars in the standings big time with only 13 games remaining.
The players and the coaches are just as bewildered as we are. Just as frustrated. Just as desirous to right the ship. They showed that in the second period last night.
"We got on our toes and skated well," Ruff said of the middle frame. "We didn't spend much time in our end. First period I felt we have them a little momentum. We took a penalty and gave them the power play goal but I thought our compete and our skating was back to where it was, maybe about a week ago."
A week ago. Those were better days. In the standings, anyway. The off-ice emotional roller coaster of the last two may get blamed when it's all said and done, but for now they still have time to get it all back.
They have to figure a few things out first.
Like goaltending. Tim Thomas has been pretty good, generally. Last night there were some moments that were not as good. Kari Lehtonen had a rough return from a concussion. You have to trust that Mike Valley will work that out.
Or like depth scoring. That's where things get a little trickery. It's been 173:35 since someone not named Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin scored a goal for the Dallas Stars (Chiasson early in Winnipeg.) That's an eternity.
Dallas just does not have an obvious second-wave threat right now, and that might be OK at home, but on the road it is nearly impossible to overcome when other team's can focus on Benn and Seguin and take their chances with the rest.
Benn and Seguin continue to score, even with the attention. That speaks to their greatness. That's a pretty neat trick, and something nice to build around, but this season they need Cody Eakin and Val Nichushkin and Erik Cole or even Ray Whitney to stand up and make someone account for them.
Or they can figure out the East.
At 10-14-2 the Dallas Stars are the ONLY Western Conference team with a sub-.500 record against the East. The absolute worst right now, and that stings.
They're 22-12-9 against the West. Phoenix is only 19-16-8. Heck, Chicago is just 24-12-9 against the West. The Stars are, for whatever reason (thanks, Pacific Division) plenty competitive there. But not against the East, and it is just killing them in their playoff hunt.
6 of their remaining 13 are against the East, by the way.
When they play within themselves and utilize their system with the intelligence to match the speed they possess, they can skate with anyone. Execution has not been there this week, as Ruff has said many times, and subsequently his players.
It's been a season of peaks and valleys, so none of this should come as much as a surprise. The timing is just tough. Their last peak needs to be quite high, and they need to start heading that way Saturday against Ottawa if they want to make noise in April.