I had a friend during high school who played this song every time you got in his car. Kind of how games at Honda Center always feel like the roof is going to collapse any minute.
If watching the second period of Stars/Ducks game this year has been a wonderful treat, then watching the first and third period of this game was like being forced to help a not-that-close friend move, never getting any pizza, and then getting stuck inside their garage with an old cat messing itself for three hours.
We’ll have more details on this swing through the Pacific after tomorrow night’s game, but for now, let’s just get some things out of the way and cleanse the ol’ palate, if that’s even possible after whatever that was:
- Cycle Game? What Cycle Game? Actually maintaining any sort of puck possession is generally predicated on entering the zone with the puck, which is likewise predicated on exiting one’s zone with the puck. The Stars in the first and third periods just couldn’t find a way to consistently get out of the Ducks’ forecheck with any sort of coherence. When the Benn/Seguin/Spezza trio got their wheels moving and earned a penalty in the second period, the Benn/Spezza duo (along with Lindell, Heiskanen and Hanzal) hemmed in the Ducks until Miro Heiskanen finished the job to tie things up. But in the third, it was back to business. The Stars looked flummoxed as to how to defend the Ducks, and while Anaheim was largely hapless for much of the game when it came to turning their outrageous possession into shots on net, you can’t lose two periods that badly and live to tell about it.
- Roman Polák and Gavin Bayreuther both had howlers tonight, while Taylor Fedun and Joel Hanley both managed to avoid the negative column entirely. Is it weird that I thought Hanley and Fedun had maybe their best game of the year in this gelatinous mess? Bayreuther had the turnover that perked up Honka’s ears for San Jose, and Polák successfully cleared out his own goalkeeper without cause. Both plays led to goals, and while this game was one where I’m fairly comfortable laying blame at the feet of the entire team, you probably don’t love glaring mistakes like that from a defense that needs to play low-risk hockey.
- Tyler Seguin hit a crossbar, and he had some jump in his game, but Jason Dickinson was probably the best skater in all three periods, for my money.
- If we’re going to give Martin Hanzal credit for the power play scoring even when he’s not on the ice, I’m going to start losing my mind. It took at least 40 games for the Greg Pateryn adulation to start getting this tinny, but Hanzal’s only three games into his comeback, looking largely (heh) mediocre in terms of overall impact, and analysts are slathering praise on him like barbecue sauce on anything good at Whataburger. Don’t let’s get ahead of ourselves, folks.
- Jason Spezza is still the only reliable puck-carrier on the power play. I love having him, Benn and Heiskanen on the same unit, and Fedun did a good job with Seguin and Radulov. Granted, maybe that was just second-period pixie dust, but four PPG in two games is good work on the road. Now, uh, about that defense.
- The goaltending in this one was not up to par. Yes, it was a frenzied affair, and Ben Bishop can get a little too Goaltender Doing Things when things are hyped up, but hiking the puck to the other team in front of an empty net is sorta beyond the pale, my man. Bishop wasn’t the reason Dallas disappeared for 40 minutes of the game, but he didn’t quite grab them and keep them in it, either.
- Ryan Kesler hooked Roman Polák pretty blatantly on that Ducks goal, but Ryan Getzlaf outworked Polák along the wall right after that. I don’t know why Polák missed the morning skate, but if he was fighting soreness in this one, it wouldn’t surprise me.
- Dallas really could have put this thing out of reach in the second, but again, who knows how bad the third period would have been if it had been a 5-1 lead that slipped away. Maybe we’re all just inconsolable at this point if they’d had more to lose. Radulov’s partial breakaway was a good chance, but even if you allow they got enough offense, you really should get at least a point out of games against the Ducks when you put up three on John Gibson, just on principle.
- I’ve been to tons of games at Honda Center since 2004, and there has almost been this ominous feeling to them, even when Dallas is leading. Through the screen, I felt that same (perhaps not scientifically verifiable) aura in this one. One end of the ice was just plain haunted, and you can’t convince me otherwise.
- To top it all off, my brother and his wife took my almost four-month-old niece to this game in person. Sorry, Ellie, but yeah, this is basically what it’s been like for a while now. We call that second period “2015-16.” Hope you enjoyed it! We do not recommend watching the following periods if you have the benefit of hindsight. Also, your dad loves it when you hide hair ties throughout the entire house. Ask your mom how that works.
- Blake Comeau scored a goal off a nice combination rush from Jason Dickinson and Devin Shore. Even Comeau isn’t gonna pass it when he receives the puck six inches from the goal line, so that’s always a great play. Also, Blake Comeau is better at hockey than I will ever be at anything in my life. This has been your Blake Comeau Update.
- Esa Lindell had a rough game in this one, while Miro Heiskanen seemed to have his legs. Weird how the only guy under 21 seemed to have his skating legs after the Vegas off day, eh?
- If you’ve ever played in a game where your team seems lethargic, you know that feeling a couple Stars skaters had. Lots of swear words under your breath, and lots of screaming on the bench to get your teammates’ heads into the game. Sometimes, a leader can drag the team into the fight, but that just didn’t happen tonight outside of the middle frame. Incomplete efforts aren’t enough, even against middling teams in the worst division. Losing streaks start this way. Time to see who’s gonna end it.
- At best, Dallas can collect four of eight points on this road trip which still includes a trip to Colorado. It’s time to see if the Stars are really better than they’ve been in far too many periods lately. Two more weeks of hockey like we’ve seen in Vegas and Anaheim will mean John Klingberg has a whole lot of heavy lifting to do the minute he steps back into the lineup. Not sure even Klingberg can do that. Time to see if Jim Montgomery, Jamie Benn, and this team’s leadership group can fix the cracks. They’re starting to widen, and that margin for error is all but gone. You can only get outshot so many times, but when you get outplayed and outworked as well, games are only going to end one way.