The Minnesota Wild scored on their first shot of the game. They scored on their second shot of the game. They scored another one in there between, thanks to the Stars' defense.
Mikko Koivu @ 1:19. Eric Staal @ 3:00. Matt Dumba @ 4:00.
3-0 Minnesota four minutes into the game. They'd add a fourth eight minutes later to send the discriminating consumers headed for <not horrible hockey game> on a Saturday night, and that looked like it.
It wasn't 'it', as it turned out. But it kind of was.
Sure, the Wild backed off and settled into a defensive posture. Sure, the Stars took that as an outlet to exercise their sheer embarrassment at what had taken place in the first period- But let's not lose sight of the story of that game. That start- On Antti Niemi's part, on the defense's part, on the part of every guy suited up tonight, was just unacceptable. And I am sure they would tell you as much.
That the Stars would eventually tie it in the third is impressive. That's a big mountain to scale. But for me it's overshadowed by the depths of the poor start- One of the quickest netminder pulls I think many of us have ever seen.
Johnny Oduya was out there for two of them. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were on the ice for two of them. Oduya put one in. Lindell was not optimal on the fourth. Antti Niemi could have had two of the three he allowed.
This is the part where they deserve credit for not giving up. For going to work. For putting on their boots and taking it a shift at a time. For finding four goals (Roussel, Hudler, Seguin, Klingberg) to tie that game up after such humiliation.
They did not earn any points, however. That start killed them, however entertaining the remainder was, and it was entertaining. It was heroic even, in the context of a sports competition, anyway. But the start killed them.
A lucky bounce off Zucker ended up being the kill shot.
Which is a shame. The Stars got a stellar effort from Kari Lehtonen. They got the good Klingberg. They got Stephen Johns blocking shots and hitting dudes like a man. They got, most importantly of all, a win on special teams, including some HUGE kills and a 5-on-3 kill.
That doesn't happen often. And when you score on the power play and the opposition doesn't, and they've brought their backup and you puncture him four times, you need to win that game. That start, though.
In the end this one looks like the Panther game on New Year's Eve. Opponent enters with backup netminder, opponent blitzes the Stars relentlessly in the first period (that night it was a quick 3-0 lead), Stars push back because 'score-effects', Stars lose to backup netminder, both Stars netminders play.
This one had a little added offensive flair and more teasing, with a couple of minute of satisfaction before it fell down again, but it smells and looks like the same Duck to this Stars fan.
How can a team come out at home that often and be that woefully under-prepared to play? Maybe Lindy Ruff will tell us. Or maybe he will bemoan Radek Faksa hitting the post and the missed opportunities down the stretch. Who can tell any more? Guys can't have shots fired at them in the press a good 67% of the time- That's probably not a recipe for cohesion between a coach and his troops- But there's a level of honesty that's required right now from all parties that says this team just isn't getting it done.
You can use all the colorful verbiage to that end that occurs to you. It all applies. It's all valid. That wasn't good enough, and their record reflects it.
Next they'll play a game in the middle of the day on a day when the people who have earned enough money to buy tickets and merchandise and other things that their advertisers peddle will largely be at work, working hard for that money, and they won't be able to watch it. Noon in Buffalo on Monday.
That is an editorial comment. Goodnight.