For those who have been waiting for Stars coach Marc Crawford to explode and rip his team, you got your wish tonight.
Crawford went on a rant after Dallas lost a 5-2 game to the Los Angeles Kings. It was the third straight loss at home for the Stars, and the third straight game where Dallas out-shot the opposition and was not able to cash in on glorious chances.
But Crawford didn't want to talk about the lack of scoring, he wanted to talk about a shift by the Brenden Morrow-Mike Ribeiro-Jamie Benn line in the second period where the group stayed on the ice too long, lost a puck in the neutral zone and ended up being scored on to break a 1-1 tie.
The line came onto the ice at 11:53 of the second period and Morrow had a giveaway at 13:00 (or 1:07 into the shift). After almost gaining the defensive blueline, he tried to make a backhand pass through the middle of the ice instead of ragging the puck up the wall and trying to make a change.
The Kings turned the puck over, went on a counter-attack and scored after Wayne Simmonds ripped a shot on net and Alexei Ponikarovsky swept in a rebound. The goal came at the 13:05 mark or a full 1:12 into the shift for the Ribeiro line. Los Angeles then scored nine seconds later on the next shift to take complete control of the game.
Crawford was quite animated when talking about the turn of events.
``You have to be prepared to win the game 1-0 and you don't give away easy chances like we did. We were well in control. It was 1-1 and when you're in control, you don't give up odd-man rushes. You don't go on a shift where you're overextended, sixty seconds into the shift, and then you try to get another offensive opportunity. You give the other team life. That's how you get beat.''
``Teams that end up being playoff teams _ which we're going to be _ they don't beat themselves...and we beat ourselves tonight. It's disappointing. We did it the last game and we didn't have to come in here and rant and rave, because we thought we learned the lesson. But we didn't. Tonight, we have to learn the lesson.''
``On the positive side, it's a good thing that it's happening right now, because we've got a whole season ahead of us to fix it. But our guys have to get it through their thick skulls that they are not an overly super skilled team. We're a very good team that if we don't outwork the other team, we don't give ourselves the best opportunity to win. And we certainly don't give ourselves an opportunity to win when we're trying to gamble and we're trying to play extended shifts.''
The Stars have been playing better, and there was a feeling that the team was starting to improve. But Crawford didn't want to hear that talk.
``Those kind of comments ring hollow,'' he said. ``We're a team that doesn't beat ourselves and plays a harder style of game. We have to be better than we were. We beat ourselves tonight.''
The Stars had plenty of great scoring chances, but simply couldn't get the job done. Ribeiro, Benn and Morrow each were stopped on golden opportunities, and the Stars power play against struggled. They went 1-for-6 with 13 shots on goal and also gave up a short-handed goal.
``It's frustrating. I wish we had the answers,'' Morrow said. ``We were out-shot almost 3 to 1 earlier in the season and we found a way to win. Then, when we fix that, we can't score. I don't know if we've lost our mojo or what. I do think we are probably making too many passes, making that extra play to be sure, and I'm not sure if we've lost our confidence or what. We just have to get back to making the quick play and get back to what we were doing earlier in the year.
Crawford said the team has to work harder at all aspects of the game.
``Goal-scoring is a culmination of a lot of good habits,'' Crawford said. ``You have good habits when you're not fatigued (on a shift), and when you do the simple things right all of the time. That's why the clichés are there, because they work. And we have to make sure we're about that. I like our team, they're a great bunch of guys, but they got to commit to doing it all of the time, all of the time.''
Morrow said the team might be trying too hard to create a hockey buzz in the city. The team played before a crowd of 11,306.
``We looked at this when we got back from Florida and we thought it was a great chance to make some hay,'' he said. ``Now, we're three games in and we don't have a point. That's frustrating. We'd like to do some positive things and get people excited about the game here, and maybe we are trying to do too much at home, Maybe we need to get back to that simple road game.''