To be fair, it didn’t look like a massacre until the second period. The Dallas Stars proved they could hang with the Tampa Bay Lightning, until they couldn’t – and then the yawning gap between the Stars and true competitiveness was on full display.
In his latest Five Takeaways, Stars digital correspondent Scott Burnside breaks down the differences between the Lightning, who are one of the league’s elite teams, and the Stars, who are not:
Critical goals scored at critical times by players from up and down the Tampa lineup. Sounds like textbook hockey. Sounds like the kind of hockey that is pretty much eluding the Dallas Stars.
"This was probably the biggest disappointment of a game, probably so far this year," said captain Jamie Benn. "We're going to have to look at ourselves in the mirror and then come back ready to put some work in tomorrow. We're far away from being an elite level like Tampa is right now."
The worst part of the road trip may have been the toll it took on the Stars’ best players – like John Klingberg, for one:
Klingberg was minus-3 in the 5-1 loss to Carolina that started the trip on Monday night in Raleigh. The smooth-skating offensive star was much better in a shootout loss to Florida the next night, and while he was much steadier Thursday, his blunder on the critical shorthanded goal cannot be ignored.
If Klingberg, who entered the night leading all defensemen with 18 points, wants to be considered an elite defender a-la his countryman Victor Hedman, who has become one of the game's best for the Lightning, these are moments he can't have.
Read the whole thing at the Stars’ official site. [Dallas Stars]
Josh Bogorad sums up The Current Difficulty (with proper usage of Twitter’s new 280-character limit):
Humbling road trip for the Stars. Listening to the players after the game, it sure feels like a fork in the road stretch is upcoming for the Stars. They are .500, with three of next four at home. Which direction will they go? They should be spitting nails on Saturday.— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) November 17, 2017
And Ben Bishop spoke about a tough return to the arena he called home for five seasons:
Ben Bishop speaks about his return to Tampa and the Stars struggles on the road. pic.twitter.com/2JKeIiqbsB— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) November 17, 2017
Tampa Bay still loves Bish, and they showed it with the tribute video that played in Amalie Arena before last night’s game.
Can Marc Methot help stabilize the Stars’ lineup? He could return as soon as Saturday, when the team returns to AAC to play the similarly struggling Edmonton Oilers.
Around the league(s)
Last Night In #Murder
- The Winnipeg Jets eliminated a two-goal deficit and outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout. [Broad Street Hockey]
- A five-point night from Nathan MacKinnon led the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-2 blowout over the Washington Capitals. [Japers’ Rink]
- Brayden Schenn got two goals and an assist as the St. Louis Blues handled the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- And in the four-point game, the Minnesota Wild snapped the Nashville Predators’ winning streak, 6-4. [Hockey Wilderness]
By the way, Ryan Johansen scored last night! (Yay?)
Ryan Johansen is no longer the NHL's highest-paid forward without a goal.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) November 17, 2017
Avs forward Vladislav Kamenev broke his arm playing in his first game since coming to Denver in the Matt Duchene trade. He’ll be on IR for the foreseeable future. [Mile High Hockey]
No NHL player has reached 65 goals in a season since Alex Ovechkin did it in 2008-09. Rob Vollman thinks Nikita Kucherov could match that achievement in 2017-18. [NHL]
Elsewhere, Vadim Shipachyov recounts his Vegas Golden Knights drama, and suggests that KHL players who want to make the leap to North America should reconsider. A lot.
The Week In Discipline: Luke Witkowski and Matthew Tkachuk are in very hot water for a brawl they instigated during the Calgary Flames’ 8-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. Witkowski has earned a 10-game suspension for re-entering the ice after being ordered to the dressing room by an official. Tkachuk’s hearing takes place today. [Detroit Free Press]
After what was described as lengthy internal league debate sounds like @NHL will suspend @DetroitRedWings Luke Witkowski 10 games for coming back on the ice. @NHLFlames Matthew Tkachuk will also face a discipline hearing with @NHL tomorrow for his involvement— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) November 16, 2017
Hockey in Houston? Katie Strang reports in The Athletic that Gary Bettman has met with Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, and that the Bayou City may be on a short list for future expansion consideration.
Sources: NHL, Houston Rockets owner meet to talk NHL's viability in Houston https://t.co/En5rwMxaGs— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) November 16, 2017
With a possible serial killer stalking the Tampa suburb of Seminole Heights, any show of support has to be welcome. Bolts forward J.T. Brown is doing his part.
WE ARE SEMINOLE HEIGHTS— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) November 15, 2017
STRONG - RESILIENT - UNITED pic.twitter.com/EKQTioI3e5
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park (and Beautiful Boise)
The Texas Stars showed off their tool skills by building children’s playhouses for Habitat for Humanity. Note the T-Stars tribal tattoo on the outside wall of this beauty.
BarDown wants hockey fans to choose between Dart Guy and Willie McNelson as the best NHL fan mascot. Personally, I’d like to know where the Green Men, Taco Lady and the Traveling Jagrs are. What about you?