These last two games at the American Airlines Center have not been the most enjoyable nights of hockey that have been experienced around here.
Beaten handily by both the Bruins and Kings have shown us memories of 2008-09 that we would rather not go through again. But, it is where we are in this NHL, where very few teams enjoy depth. A few injuries hit, and the difference makers you have disappear - and before long a team like the Kings seem like they are toying with you a bit.
I was very impressed with Mike Ribeiro last night as he tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and joined by Jamie Benn and Brendan Morrow, I am not sure you could ask any more of that top line. But, unfortunately, there wasn't too much behind them to help.
It was going to have to be a clean game played by the Stars, and a few too many lapses allowed a 3 goal 2nd period for Los Angeles, who appear to finally be developing into a pretty impressive squad themselves.
The top line that they roll out with Kopitar-Smyth-Williams gave the Stars fits all night and trapped them in their own end. Then young Jonathan Quick was up to the task to handle any Stars shots to keep the lead intact.
These last two home games have demonstrated how badly the Stars miss Steve Ott. In both the Boston game and the Los Angeles game, the Stars needed someone to stir up the bench and the opponent in that way only Otter can. I would like to see a bit more abrasion on nights when the goals aren't coming, and for some reason, it generally falls back to #29 to take the lead.
The games also demonstrate the margin for error around here. When everyone is here, the Stars look like a dangerous team. But, take away key parts like Brad Richards, Ott, Mike Modano, and Jere Lehtinen, and before long, the Stars look like that same depleted team that they rolled out many nights last year. Half NHL/Half AHL.
There is no need to panic, but as the season goes on, we surely see what a role good health will play once again. The Stars MVP this season may have to be the training staff.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
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