For those of you who beleieve the shootout is a skills competition that can deceptively raise you record (Hi Daryl), you'll be glad to know the Stars are 4-4 in shootouts this season following a 3-2
loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. See, they are not just piling up on exta point wins.
For those who want all the points you can get and don't care who you get them (Hello, Marc Crawford), then thiis was a little disapointing.
``It was a point we let get away,'' Crawford said. ``That was a game we should have gotten two, I felt.''
And therein is maybe a lesson of how the Stars got to first place in the Pacific Division in the first half of the season and what can happen if they don't continue to follow those details in the second half.
Now, I will preface this with the fact that it's funny that we don't send all of this time breaking down mistakes when the team has an ample opportunity to score and isn't able to do that. And we certainly don't break
things down when the goalie makes the save. We (and I mean all of us, coaches, media, fans, players) save our anlaysis for the series of plays that lead up to a goal against. That's not the fairest way to look at things, but Crawford has been stressing details
of the game, and he felt the Stars lost their details on a short-handed goal during the waning seconds of a second period power play that tied the game for New York at 1-1.
Ruslan Fedotenko beat the Stars to a loose puck that had rimmed around the Stars offensive zone off a missed shot, went the length of the ice and settled in the corner to the left of goalie Kari Lehtonen. Feeling no pressure, he walked out of
the corner and snapped what appeared to be an incredibly soft goal through Lehtonen.
``The shorthanded goal, that was a bad goal,'' Crawford said. ``It was a bad goal, all-around. Richie made a bad change, Daley made a real poor backcheck on it, and it ends up going in the net. You can maybe give Kari a little bit there, but
the guy surprised him with the shot, it bounced in and it’s kind of the bounce of the game.''
Now, why would a goal in the second period that tied the game be the goal of the game? Because Crawford is trying to make a point. You can never stop thinking about the details of the game...even if you're tired at
the end of the power play and the puck seems to be in a fairly harmless place.
``In order to do things, you just have to keep piling up the entities when you’re playing in the game,' Crawford said of a theory he has espoused many times this season. ``So whether
it’s you’re correct on the forecheck most of the time, you’re correct with the third man, you’re correct with your backside coverage... We played hard. It was a one-goal game, both goalies were pretty solid. They scored a power play goal, we scored a power
play goal. But I thought we had opportunities tonight to be a little more disciplined in crucial areas. I’d want to take a few less penalties, obviously, but I thought a couple of key things for us was, we over-extended a few shifts and a couple of times that
Crawford is dialing up his criticism right now because he believes the team can take it (and probably actually wants it). So he hopes there was a lesson learned there.
``We have a lot of good things in the game, we should probably focus in on the good things, but when you’re striving for these points, I guess it’s human nature, especially coaches’ human nature, is to pick at the sores that we’ve got in our game,'' Crawford
said. ``In the end, it’s a pretty important point, but we had our hearts set and our minds set on getting this thing righted at home. It’s five games now where we haven’t won at home. We have to make sure that we put that equation so much in our favor and
we had opportunities to do that tonight and that’s where we need to persevere and make sure that we leave nothing to chance.''
Ah, the home and road thing... Dallas is 0-3-2 in its last five home games. It is 6-0-0 in its last six road games. That's an anomoly, I feel, but it does bear some watching. The irony is the Stars actually played good against the Rangers
and played very well against the Canucks, so it's not like they're just a mess at home. Likewise, they were saved by Andrew Raycroft in Nashville last week, so it's noit like they're always road warriors.
Here is some quotage on that:
“It’s a good question but I don’t have an answer,'' goalie Kari Lehtonen said. ``It was the other way early in the season. We couldn’t win on the road and were killing everybody here. We certainly have the
advantage here. The fans are behind us. When you’re in the home building, you feel good. Maybe we play a little bit more loose on the road and are able to get the bounces and get the wins.”
“I don’t know,'' Loui Eriksson said. ``We maybe try to get the puck deep [on the road] and get our chances. We were real close today. Now we go on the road again to play Minnesota. We’re playing here on Sunday again. It’s another game
for us, so we have to bounce back.”
I personally think they just need to keep focusing on the details no matter where they are. That seems to make all of these problems work out.
The record is now 24-13-5 (53 points), and the team is confortable in first place in the Pacific. The Kings have lost five games in a row. The Sharks hoave lost two in a row.
The one team that is interesting right now is Nashville. They have won four straight and are creeping up behind the Stars. But they don't really matter as they would stay in fourth place unless the Stars got knocked
out of the division lead.
Here's a few fun quotes:
Crawford on the play of Philip Larse, who was called up to fill in for injured defensemen Karlis Skrastins and Matt Niskanen:
``I thought he did some real good things in the game. He’s very clever and very creative. If he improves his shot, I think he’s going to be a dangerous player. He got a number of wide open looks and if he develops a little more stronger
shot, a little more overpowering, then I think that now he becomes a very dangerous power play guy. There’s no doubt he’s got some creativity and some poise. He reads the play well and has the ability to play on the power play. That’s very positive for a 21-year-old
kid. I thought 5-on-5, he held his own tonight and he’s probably going to get a chance to play in Minnesota.''
Niskanen (hand) and Skrastins (nose) will be evaluated today, but it is likely that neither is ready for the trip to Minnesota or Sunday's game.
Here's Kari Lehtonen on how he is handling the shootout:
would be nice to win, we were right there. It can go either way in a shootout. The last couple I have been in, I have not been happy with how I’ve done, so I need to work on that.”
Lehtonen had 29 saves in the game.