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Sturm Column: Time to Step Up

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars

It is certainly not the easiest time to make my writing debut here at, but nevertheless I am honored to be with you today, just like I am honored to be with the Dallas Stars in San Jose, the day after another gutting defeat – this time to those Sharks.

Bob Sturm
In case you don’t know (or care), for the 4th season in a row, the Bob and Dan show is on the road with the Stars for a regular season road-trip.  This allows us absolutely unprecedented access to what life is like for the Stars on the road, and trust me, no matter how nice the plane is (and it is awesome) and how great the hotel is (the nicest I have ever been in), “life” is completely related to wins and losses.

They know what the NHL thinks of them.  The Stars know that they have doubters.  They know that the last taste of playoff glory of 1999 and 2000 was a hockey lifetime ago.  And they also know that the way they are losing games lately are direct reminders of what has bitten them in recent years.

Bad Penalties.  Late Goals.  Poor decisions.  No one to step up and score the goal late.  Like the slogan of “Survivor”, the Stars have spent the last few playoff runs being Outplayed, Outwitted, and Outlasted.

They have made a fair number of changes this year, with the big trade, and many young faces in the lineup who were not part of playoff failures past.   This has led us to believe that things are different this season.

But, during this current poor run of form, that has accounted for just 3 points in 9 games, they have fallen into the same familiar traps.  And as is the case, it isn’t about one thing going wrong.

As much as you want to simplify your blame to one destination, think this through:  During the 9 games, after the 2nd intermission, the Stars have been outscored 16-1.  So, while you can blame Marty Turco for not being near the level that he needs to be, how then do you blame him for 1 goal in 9 third periods?  Wasn’t that the story of the Vancouver series last year?  Didn’t we realize that when Marty was perfect, there still wasn’t enough timely scoring to outlast the Canucks?

Of course, Marty has not been perfect, and he compounds problems with the late goals by taking the late penalty in San Jose last night that sunk any opportunity for the Stars to pull the 2nd point from a real battle with the Sharks.

As for goal scoring, the Mike Ribeiro-Brenden Morrow partnership still looks dangerous most nights.  Mike Modano was certainly better and looked like he was about to win that game until the goal line stepped in the way.  But, did we notice Brad Richards?  Not enough.  I need more from him, and I have to think Dave Tippett does, too. 

And isn’t there something that ties goaltending to Brad Richards?  I think so.  In the trade for Richards, the Stars sent away the very capable back-up Mike Smith.  Smith would surely have been playing occasionally during this month of March, with the two games versus Los Angeles coming immediately to mind.  But Johan Holmqvist has not been used properly, and therefore is so rusty that to expect anything from him against the Kings would be unfair to him and the team.  Therefore, I expect Tippett will continue to call Turco’s number as the Stars need 2 points tomorrow, and I would assume chances are that every single game the rest of the 2007-08 season will feature Turco between the pipes.

So, despite the huge trade, we are right back where we were when the season began.  This season will go as far as Marty Turco will take them….Provided someone can score a timely goal in the 3rd period of a big game.

Does this in any way resemble recent playoff conundrums?  I sure hope not.  They can pull out of this mess, but it really needs to start immediately.

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