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Sturm Blog: Stars/Panthers

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars
Bob Sturm

Again, no shortage of excitement at the AAC on Friday night, but there was  a shortage of sound, fundamental hockey from the Stars at enough times to sacrifice a point in the standings to an Eastern Conference team that will likely not be in the playoffs this year.  To me, that represents wasted opportunities that may haunt us when they tally up the totals in the spring time.
Don't get me wrong:  Florida has some nice players who can do some  nice things.  But, they should not be taking a 3-0 lead in your barn.
And surely, you don't want Steven Reinprecht's natural hat trick being scored in the span of under 6 minutes, with all 3 goals coming against your top line of Ribeiro, Morrow, and Benn.   Reinprecht, Nathan Horton, and  Cory Stillman surely were on the right side of things in that 1st period, and from then on out, the Stars are behind the 8-ball and chasing the game.
Alex Auld, who has looked very good in his first 2 starts, has now had his last 2 not look that great.  He surrendered 5 in Los Angeles, and 5 more against Florida, with 9 of the 10 goals being of the 5-on-5 variety.  And,  f you watched these 2 starts, you will join me in admitting he was not really  helped by the Stars D-men.  Remember Robidas vs Kopitar?  Well, here  was Rostislav Olesz dancing around Skrastins in the neutral zone and then firing  a wicked backhander high against Auld.  We all know part of solid goaltending is help from those in front of you, and there is not a consistent tightness about the defense as the calendar switches to November after tonight in Nashville.
James Neal scored another wonderful goal, and truly appears to be on an even higher level than his rookie season.  I can't stress enough how great  he looks, with his determination to go get that puck and then bury it in the twine.  There was one moment last night where he burst through the crease to chase the puck into the corner, with defenders flying to the ice in his wake.
In the end, the game went to overtime, and then a shootout.  There we  see once again that this team - for all of its outstanding offensive talent -  are really struggling to score on shootouts.  Now 0-4 in the quest for the bonus point, it is starting to raise some valid concerns about losing too much  ground in that department.  Jussi and Zubie are gone.  Time to figure out a new plan in shootouts.  Do we need fresh options?  Loui?   Fabian? Brenden? If the guys doing it are not doing it, let's seek  alternatives.
But, points now in 11 of 13, so let's get ready for Nashville  tonight.

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