Disappointing is the best word to describe the Stars play against the Red Wings. Dallas has been one of the best teams at home over the past few seasons, but you only play 41 games at home. To make the playoffs a team needs to win at least 50% of their road matches. At this pace, Dallas may not even win 25% of them.
The night started off with Dallas doing their best to try and put themselves in the hole. Within the first ten minutes, the Stars were on the penalty kill twice. On the second powerplay, it seemed that the Red Wings Anthony Mantha scored a goal. However, they determined that Mantha kicked the puck in and it was overturned. Later in the first, the Stars Gemel Smith broke into Detroit’s defensive zone from a perfectly executed controlled breakout. Smith then outskated the Red Wings Dylan Larkin and then snapped a perfect wrister low blocker on Jonathon Bernier. Dallas kept the pressure on Bernier for the rest of the period, but nothing else came out of it.
Then the second-period hit and the Stars team that played in the first was nowhere to be found. Yeah, Dallas got a lot of shots on goal, but similar to every road game, only a handful was deceptive. The Red Wings then took advantage of an elite goaltending performance from Bernier and made the Stars pay for their defensive blunders. Anthony Mantha took a feed from Gustave Nyquist and was able to tap the puck in for an easy goal. This was possible due to Ben Bishop being out of the net trying to stop Nyquist from wrapping the puck around his leg.
With a tie game entering the third, it was the Stars’ opportunity to face adversity. But that plan failed quickly. The Red Wings got a lucky bounce as the puck caromed off the inboards and rolled out to the front of the net. This became disastrous because Bishop believed the puck would roll behind the net, off the dump in. Then Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi beat the Stars defencemen to the loose puck and tapped it in. Deflated and astonished, Dallas could not recover from that. A few minutes later the Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson wired a perfect shot through the screen in front Bishop and into the net. As the rest of the game went on, Dallas could not cleanly enter the Red Wings zone. It wasn’t until the final minute that Dallas got some sustained pressure after pulling Bishop. Faksa then tipped a shot from John Klingberg and beat Bernier for the proximate goal. It seemed as if Dallas might mount a quick comeback, but again that didn’t work out. The Red Wings cleared the puck from their zone and Justin Abdelkader chased the puck down and sent it into the empty net.
The best player for Dallas was Gemel Smith. He was quick, aggressive and smart on the puck. But Smith’s persistence was not enough. The tables have turned on Dallas as last week it seemed it no one but the top line would score. Now with Radulov out, everyone but the top line is scoring. This team is the definition of inconsistency. The Stars need to re-evaluate themselves and regroup. This road trip is crucial as it will determine the truth about this team. If Dallas could not beat the Red Wings, then this could very well be a long and disheartening road trip.
Dallas heads to Montreal for the second of six road games. Jamie reunites with his brother Jordie, while Spezza will play his 1000th NHL game.
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