After Loss, Tyler Seguin Says Stars “Got Burned Tonight” After Another Early Scoreboard Deficit
Miro Heiskanen is injured, Stephen Johns is on the verge of coming back, and the Stars have played a string of not great games as they head to Minnesota for the last game before their CBA-mandated break.
The Dallas Stars, the NHL’s very definition of comeback kids with eight wins when trailing after two periods, couldn’t find a way to do it again tonight when they took on the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s obviously nice to have the resilience that we do,” Tyler Seguin said after the game, “and being able to come back in games. But we’re flirting with fire and we got burned tonight.”
Maybe we’re a little spoiled. After scrapping that 1-7-1 start, Stars fans had only seen eight losses prior to tonight. That’s in a string of 26 wins and three overtime/shootout losses. A very good stretch of winning hockey to watch, which makes the losses stand out a little more.
The biggest news out of the game, however, wasn’t necessarily the result. It was the fact that Buffalo broke Miro Heiskanen.
Losing him for any amount of time makes Dallas a worse team, and the fact that he missed the entire third period after taking a knee to the head following a cross-check to the head is frustrating. It does look as though Rasmus Asplund tries to hold up on the cross-check after he notices Heiskanen off balance, but forward momentum carried him into the blueliner anyway.
Looks more like a cross-check to the head (perhaps accidental) in slow-mo pic.twitter.com/37PBPnVwXI— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) January 17, 2020
It’s frustrating because realistically this doesn’t look like an intentional play. Going into a scrum along the boards with your stick down in a “cross-check to the lumbar” posture is pretty standard stuff these days (whether you think that is legal or not is a different story, of course). I’m not sure this play warrants a fine or a suspension as some kind of karmic leveling for the potential injury to Heiskanen. It’ll probably be written off as a result of playing a physical contact sport, though you could make a good argument that hitting a player in a vulnerable position like this is dangerous, especially when the initial point of contact was squarely the head.
Heiskanen has a history of concussions. He missed a lot of Stars training camp right after he was drafted before returning to Liiga in Finland to play one more season there before transitioning to the NHL.
Hopefully, holding him out of the third period was more precautionary than a lingering issue. Interim head coach Rick Bowness didn’t have an update after the game, and couldn’t say whether he was in concussion protocol or not at this point.
Just as the Stars get news that Stephen Johns is now an option for the roster, this happens. Much like the team looked tonight, the universe is out of sync in their timing.
It sure seems like this season there are a few things you can count on when it comes to the Stars:
- Slow first periods
- Allowing the first goal against
- Comeback attempts
After the game, several players were asked about the slow starts that has plagued the team all season. Seguin said that if they knew what was the issue, they’d have fixed it already. Ben Bishop said that it’s something that obviously they need to fix. Every game, it seems to be some new thing that causes the slow start: early penalties, lots of icings, many penalties, early goals, dominance by the other team.
For the 10th time in the last 14 games, the Stars surrendered the first goal against. It came on one of the worst defensive plays by the team in memory this season. Heiskanen and Jamie Oleksiak both miscommunicated the defensive zone coverage, leaving Jimmy Vesey completely uncovered to put the puck into the open net due to Ben Bishop getting pulled out of position by Jack Eichel.
For a team that’s usually so solid defensively, it was uncharacteristically bad. That ended up being a portent of what would come in the first and third periods. Dallas had one of their worst puck possession games. “We made it easy for them to pressure us because I felt like we were moving the puck too slow,” Bowness said after the game. “When you’re playing a team like that, pucks gotta move quicker and the puck support has to be there, and it was off.”
Give Buffalo some credit, they had a defensive game plan in place to take advantage of the Stars’ inability to possess the puck tonight. “We were slow on the puck moving decisions, and they were jumping on it,” Bowness said.
There was a glimmer of hope in the second period when Dallas came out strong. They ended up outshooting Buffalo 16-5 in the middle frame. The problem, as John Klingberg described it after the game, was that Dallas played too much from the perimeter. They did capitalize on a huge rebound off the boards of a Heiskanen shot to tie the game early in the period:
Take it to the bank. #BUFvsDAL | #GoStars pic.twitter.com/8sdPDPsGxX— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 17, 2020
They needed something else to keep the momentum going in their direction in that period, especially after giving up a seeing-eye shot to Rasmus Dahlin late in the frame to tilt the ice in favor of the Sabres.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it happen. The power play, which had been blistering hot of late, was completely disjointed and couldn’t come up with an equalizer even though they got a few chances, especially late in the third. Two empty net goals sealed the game, making the 4-1 score look way worse than what the teams actually played.