Wednesday is certainly not going to be remembered as one of the easiest and happiest days in the Dallas Stars world, I do believe.
I should admit right now that I am merely going on things Ralph and Razor referenced in the Carolina broadcast, and then things I saw on the ice, so it may not be as big a deal as my eyes and ears were reading into it, but nevertheless, let's discuss...
1) - The team had a hard morning skate as Coach Marc Crawford is trying to get this team to drive the net with more determination and passion during games. It has been 11 games since the Stars scored 4 goals in a regulation game, and 3 is hardly a regular occurrence. The Power Play has been strong for the most part, but 5-on-5 has dried up. Those goals have to become habit, and the best way to get goals at equal strength is passion filled, hard driving goals off rebounds or scrambles. Hungriest dog gets to eat. Must get to that puck, and then bury it.
2) - The boys had a scuffle. When you aren't playing well, nobody is in a good mood, and according to the broadcast crew, Steve Ott and Marty Turco exchanged pleasantries and holiday greetings. Again, I don't mean to suggest it is the biggest of deals, because these guys are extremely competitive and often high-strung. Ott puts on his skates and takes on a persona of the incredible hulk. I would imagine anyone that gets in his way is subject to a show of force. Marty doesn't appear the type to back down either. And, as Razor pointed out, it took us back to a good time when Ed Belfour and Grant Marshall shared a laugh. Boys will be boys, yes?
3) - The Stars didn't appear ready to get out of the gate against the depleted Hurricanes. Nothing is worse than the buzzkill of waiting all day for a Stars game, and then about a dozen minutes in, the Stars are fishing the 3rd puck out from their own goal. 3-0, Canes? Seriously? How can this team play like that after 4 days off? I'll tell you how. They are in a bad way right now. Everything is difficult. No night is easy. No momentum can be gained, it seems. They fought hard to get back in the game, and Capt Morrow helped cut it to 3-2, but the damage had been done, and it was another frustrating effort from the Stars.
As I have said a number of times, this is a different year altogether. This isn't a bad team. This isn't an overly injured squad, either. They just have not found a rhythm or a stride. They still look like a pile of puzzle pieces, not a puzzle that properly fits together.
The good news is that after any bad Wednesday, there is a Thursday that has yet to be determined. It can be a great day, or it can be more of the same. Atlanta's Thrashers are next for the Stars, who can get that bad taste out of their mouth with a good showing.
But, we do know this - nothing is easy these days.
One final point, and the credit must go to Richard Durrett who observed that Marty Turco has already had more time off in 09-10 than he did in 08-09's entire campaign. I had no idea, but that is very interesting stuff:
It's still more than a week before Christmas, yet Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco has already received a gift: more games off than last season.
Think about that. The Stars have played 32 games this season, and backup Alex Auld has started nine of them. Last season, Turco's backups -- Tobias Stephan and Matt Climie -- started eight games the whole season.
Turco played 74 games last season, the heaviest workload of his career. He logged 4,327 minutes of ice time, second only to Miikka Kiprusoff. Some within the organization don't believe it was a coincidence that Turco also had his worst season since becoming the starter in 2002-03. He had a 2.81 goals-against average as the Stars missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Has it made Marty better? Tough to say for sure. He sure hasn't been clicking recently, but there is a long way to go.
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