The Dallas Stars are facing their share of shadows right now: a grueling final push made up mostly of road games, and the lingering shade of their poor 2017-18 start among them.
Lately, as The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika points out, those shadows have taken the form of former teammates who have come back to haunt them in new jerseys (hello, Jamie Oleksiak). Last night’s 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens brought another brutal irony:
Antti Niemi was the specter Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The goalie who was bought out by the Stars last summer came up with 36 saves. So in essence, the Stars paid Niemi $1.5 million to beat them.
Oh yeah, and they owe him another $1.5 million for next season.
Even more, the Stars have seen some terrible flashbacks to the team that can’t get out of its own way, that can’t close the deal when the season is on the line. Even last season’s historically bad penalty kill reared its head as the squad gave up three (3) power-play goals to a team that had just lost five in a row on the road:
Both Pittsburgh and Montreal played the night before and had to travel in while the Stars rested. Dallas is now 3-7-1 in games where the opposition played the night before. What’s more, Montreal was finishing up a six-game road trip and was 0-3-2 in its previous five games.
Bottom line, the Stars could not afford to lose this game.
And yet they found a way. ...
The Stars fall to 38-26-6 (82 points). They are still in playoff position, but they are 2-3-2 in their past seven and they are frittering away points they should be getting. As they continue on the longest road trip of the season, it won’t get easier.
There’s more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
Head coach Ken Hitchcock talked about getting stuck on the three-quarter ice game and the dangers of careless sticks in the postgame press conference.
"I think this time of year, it's really revealing one way or the other. There's lots left in it by the way...but we're going to have to finish the job if we expect to get in." pic.twitter.com/hOgxEXurmk— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 14, 2018
And captain Jamie Benn faced the cameras after the loss.
Heika also wrote about Alexander Radulov’s return to Canada and Ben Bishop’s return to practice.
No update at this writing on Marc Methot, who sustained an upper-body injury blocking a shot and did not return to the game.
Marc Methot is hurt blocking a shot, and then Brendan Gallagher scores his 26th of the year. pic.twitter.com/SguvI2aewp— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 14, 2018
Arpon Basu writes about how Niemi has gone from a career “hanging by a thread” to stealing games from his former teams.
These are Antti’s stats for his past five starts, and I’ll just leave them here.
At least in Montréal we got the Brothers Benn photo we all wanted (yes, you too) when Jordie and Jamie paused for a tête-à-tête during warm-up. (Is that a Julius Honka sighting in the background?)
Another day, another town: The Stars take on Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m. CDT in Air Canada Centre. Here’s a late game-day preview from Scott Burnside.
Yes, Jason Spezza has had a 2017-18 to forget. But has he really had a chance to succeed in the Hitchcock system? (See: “Why would you keep breaking up Spezza and Mattias Janmark when Spezza and Janmark are magic?”)
Jason Spezza was never given a true chance to succeed this season https://t.co/l8Zy22J4ml— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) March 13, 2018
Another small gem from the WFAA Film Collection of SMU’s G. WIlliam Jones Film and Video Collection – a confident declaration, circa 1971, that someday the Dallas-Fort Worth area would have its own NHL franchise.
From our WFAA Newsfilm Collection: a prediction that one day the Dallas-Fort Worth area will have an NHL team all its own. August 1971. https://t.co/NKzu59UMwe— SMU Jones Film (@SMUJonesFilm) March 13, 2018
Around the League(s)
#Murder By Numbers
- In last night’s Central-on-Central violence, the Nashville Predators got the upper hand (and two short-handed goals) over the Winnipeg Jets, 3-1. [On The Forecheck]
- Elsewhere, J.T. Compher scored twice as the Colorado Avalanche waled on the Minnesota Wild, 5-1. The Avs are now tied in points with the Stars for the first Western Conference wild-card spot. [Mile High Hockey]
Arizona Coyotes goalie Adin Hill made his NHL debut in a 3-1 loss to the Stars. Last night he became the 12th NHL goalie this season to earn his first league win. Hill pitched a 4-3 shootout triumph over the Los Angeles Kings (in which former Star Alex Goligoski netted the winning goal). Learn a little more about Hill via this in-depth analysis of his Dallas game.
For Arizona (and LA) fans who want to know more about Arizona's starter, Adin Hill, I did a long read for @InGoalMedia on his first start this past October. Should see more improvement from there tonight: https://t.co/A8IsMGdeL7— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) March 14, 2018
Now that Alex Ovechkin has scored his 600th NHL goal, let’s take a look at how he measures up with the super-elite club he just joined:
Players to score 600 goals in fewer than 1,000 games.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) March 13, 2018
1. Wayne Gretzky (718 games)
2. Mario Lemieux (719)
3. Brett Hull (900)
4. Alex Ovechkin (990)
Source: Elias Sports Bureau
And let’s do the same for Marc-Andre Fleury, now that he’s won 400 NHL games:
Marc-Andre Fleury, ladies and gents. pic.twitter.com/J2Kz18BozO— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) March 13, 2018
Former NHL defender Andrew Ference has been named the league’s new director of social impact, growth, and fan development. Let’s hope he brings the same panache to this role that he brought to Rich Peverley’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
We're celebrating Pi Day this Wednesday! Get autographs from Ringo and his mascot friends before puck drop. Be on the look out for them all game!— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) March 12, 2018
Tickets: https://t.co/hSWeEbQJGf pic.twitter.com/nr8lKEWFBm
If you’re going to H-E-B Center any time during the next three games, you’ll also have a chance to bid on Curtis McKenzie’s AHL All-Star sweater. The winner will be announced on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, and all proceeds will benefit the Texas Stars Foundation.
Curtis McKenzie's signed AHL All Star jersey could be yours!— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) March 13, 2018
Bidding starts March 14 and ends at the end of the 2nd intermission on March 17. The auction is benefiting the Texas Stars Foundation. ⭐ pic.twitter.com/3vwMgSspnE
Former Star Vernon Fiddler is back in Dallas and rejoining the community in a big way. Learn more about his new Fiddler Fights Cancer Golf Tournament and your opportunity to join #Team38. Enjoy.
Please join me in my efforts to benefit the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Every dollar donated to fight blood cancer-counts. If you are unable to participate in our Fiddler Fights Cancer golf tournament this is your way to be a part of our team. #Team38— Vernon Fiddler (@TheFiddler38) March 12, 2018