By Martin Iheke
The Dallas Stars only played two games last week and spent most of their time off practicing, trying to fix whatever issues that have mostly kept them near the bottom of the Central Division. Their game against the Winnipeg Jets last Tuesday night was another example of glaring errors committed by the Stars in a 5-2 loss. They gave the puck away 16 times and goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled after giving up a soft goal that turned out to be the game-winner for Jets forward Adam Lowry. After the game, Lehtonen talked about meltdown in the 2nd period that led to the Jets scoring three unanswered goals. “I think we started well,” he said. “We got the tying goal and then it kind of got away from us again. They’re a good team. They were able to get a couple of chances and put the puck in.”
The Stars are still winless against their division at 0-7-3. You cannot expect to get back into the playoff picture and not win a division game. Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski has one reason on why they have not won a game against their division. “We just haven’t played good enough,” he said.
Another area of concern for the Stars is forward Ryan Garbutt. He had recently been suspended two games for his knee-on-knee hit to Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall last month. Now he has been suspended again, this time for three games because he slew footed Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in the third period. I like Garbutt as a player but these incidents as well as some of the ill-timed penalties he is committing are not helping the Stars. If he wants to remain with the team, this stuff has to go away. “It’s something I don’t condone,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said according to dallasnews.com. “It obviously hurts the team. He needs to make a huge commitment to how we need him to play. I just said, ‘You’re in a situation where you can’t go down that trail any more. I know you said you wanted to improve last time, but we took a huge step back.”
Stars general manager Jim Nill agrees. “He’s got to stop. He knows he has to change his game,” Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “The message to Ryan is he’s too valuable. I know he plays hard, he plays on the edge, but some of the things, he doesn’t need to do them. It’s got to end. He’s too valuable to the team, we need him on the ice.” In other news according to dallasnews.com, forward Valeri Nichushkin returned from New Jersey last Saturday after rehabbing from successful hip surgery he had last month. The Stars do not expect him back until at least March.
As for on the ice, the Stars had three days off before their last game at home against the New Jersey Devils last Saturday night. The Stars had a strong first period playing with a lot fire and energy as they grabbed a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by forwards Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. Then the Devils stormed back to tie it at two by middle of the 2nd period before the Stars regained the lead thanks to goals by defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Shawn Horcoff. The Stars ended up winning the game, 4-3. After the game, Stars captain Jamie Benn talked about how big it was for them to respond after the Devils tied the game in the 2nd period. “Really big,” he said. “We were playing a pretty good game up until that point. They found a way to get two goals there, but I thought our team responded well with two of our own.”
The Stars will not get back at again until Wednesday night when travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks. Then they will go to Calgary to play the Flames on Friday night before finishing up their Western Canada trip in Edmonton against the Oilers next Sunday evening.
12/17 @Canucks 9:00 pm
12/19 @Flames 8:00 pm
12/21 @Oilers 5:00 pm