Dallas Stars Still Fighting for Playoffs

Ryan Garbutt is capitalizing on a career year with an extension. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
Ryan Garbutt is capitalizing on a career year with an extension. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Martin Iheke

Your Dallas Stars went into the game at home against the Colorado Avalanche last Monday night riding a three-game winning streak. They were hoping to extend the streak to four games which would be a first this season, but unfortunately they could not solve Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov despite outplaying the Avs for most of the game. Varlamov was superb with 41 saves as the Avs held off the Stars, 4-3. “I think he’s probably been one of the better goalies all year,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “He’s having a great year and he had another good night, tonight,” as he continued. Varlamov and the Avs finished the season series against Stars going 4-1-0 with Varlamov winning the four games and not losing one. The Stars deserved a better fate in this game but at the end of the day, it is about results and they did not get the result they needed to move up in the standings.

There was some good news for forward Ryan Garbutt last Wednesday as he and the Stars agreed to a three-year contract extension of $1.8 million. Garbutt, 28, is having a career year with ten goals and eight assists in 46 games this season according to dallasnews.com. He has been also asked to check their opponents’ top lines and has done a good job in that regard. This is a good move for the Stars in shoring up this part of their roster. Could Garbutt and the Stars bounce back against the New Jersey Devils? No as they would lose at home, 3-2, in overtime last Thursday night after coming back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it on forward Tyler Seguin’s goal with about 52 seconds left in regulation. The Devils controlled most of the game with their neutral zone trap limiting the Stars to only 16 shots. After the game head coach Lindy Ruff was not pleased at all by the team’s performance. “I thought we were awful,” Ruff said. “I thought we came out flat. We could have dictated play on the power play even in the first and we were awful from the start. We lost one-on-one battles, we got outskated and you don’t win many games playing like that,” as he continued.

Ruff is right. The Stars are fighting for their playoff lives and they cannot afford to play like that especially at home. However, they did get a point due to battling back to send the game into overtime. Any kind of points picked up right now is crucial no matter what game it is this time of the year, especially if it is against the best team in the league in the Anaheim Ducks which is who the Stars played at last Saturday night. Backup goalie Dan Ellis got the start for the first time in 10 games and was absolutely terrific. He stopped all 26 shots as the Stars shutout the Ducks, 2-0. It is the first time this season the Ducks had been shutout. “It’s always fun to come back here,” Ellis said according to nhl.com. “I loved my time here. Still the best place I’ve ever played and lived in, but it was good to get those two points for us tonight,” as he continued. Defenseman Trevor Daley scored the game-winning goal in the second period off a rebound notching his fourth of the season. It was also a solid performance defensively for the team as they pick a huge two points and move within four points back of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Stars will continue on their three-game road trip when they play at the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night and the next night at the San Jose Sharks before returning home on Saturday night to play the Coyotes again before their two and a half week Olympic break. The two games against the Coyotes are absolutely critical as Phoenix is three points ahead of the Stars with the same amount of games played. The Stars want to completely be in the mix for a playoff spot after the regular season resumes play.

Upcoming Schedule
2/4   @Coyotes       8:00 PM
2/5   @Sharks         9:30 PM
2/8   vs Coyotes     7:00 PM