Stars 8, Sharks 2
Tuesday night, that effort was about as perfect of a game this team has played all year. The Dallas Stars scored just about every way you can think on the rival San Jose Sharks, and wound up handing the division leading Sharks their worst loss of the year by winning 8-2 in front of a big crowd at the AAC. And the packed house got their money’s worth. The Stars showed up on both the power-play and on the penalty kill, scored twice short-handed and twice on the power-play. The Stars looked great even strength too, out scoring one of the top teams in the league 4-1 when the game was at even strength. Brenden Morrow, the captain who I have at times been worried about this year, had a awesome game as both he and long-time linemate Ribeiro both had 2 goals and 2 assists and lead the Stars scoring charge. Morrow looked like the player that has been missing a lot from this team this year. He was active, strong and involved in every part of the Stars game. The Stars need Morrow to get back to looking like he did in the 07 & 08 seasons to be good for the rest of this year and next season, and Tuesday he showed he still has it in him.
But a big part of the game, well besides the Stars offensive outburst, was the play of Kari Lehtonen. Kari stopped 45 shots and kept this team ahead when the Sharks tried a couple of times to fight back into the game when it was still close. To stop 45 out of 47 shots is not too shabby, and he made a few stellar saves where he showed that his back is getting better and that he can stretch and move the big frame to cover some ice in the crease. Crawford said after the game that he liked Lehtonen’s effort and that he will be starting again in the net tonight when the Stars host the Philadelphia Flyers. His teammates all praised Kari and seemed to all get a boost from the superb play they got behind them from the net-minder.
Now with the big win some people will say Dallas could still make a push and go for the playoffs if they can take this type of effort forward. While that would be nice, I think it is just too little too late. I am not saying to lose games, I would love for this team to fight til the end. But realistically they would need to go perfect or take only one loss for the rest of the season to take a playoff spot because almost every team ahead of them is on a roll right now. So I say give Kari some time in net, let management figure out what they have and plan on the goal-tending situation for next season. Give someone like Brandon Segal more time on the ice to see if he can keep up this streak of great play since coming to Dallas to see if he is another young guy they want to keep long term to add to their already budding group of talented young forwards. Go out there and give it all you got, while also taking a hard look at who should be here next year (Neal, Benn, Segal, Grossman, Fistric, Eriksson) and would they should think about trading or not bringing back (like – Niskanen, Skrastins, Brunstrumm & Turco)
Tonight, Dallas hosts the Flyers at the AAC. Start time is at 7:30PM CST, and it should be a good one to watch. Philly is a team holding onto one of the bottom playoff spots on in the East, but is a roller coaster team at times just like the Stars. And just like Dallas, they are uncertain of their goalie situation this year and next. Philly now has two goalies out injured and will be starting Boucher in net tonight with very little notice, and Boucher has not been good when given playing time this year. If Dallas puts together 3/4 of the effort they did Tuesday night they could get 4-5 goals off Boucher and take pressure off Lehtonen to help him continue to build confidence and momentum in the crease. This is also a game that could feature a few scraps as both teams are not shy about fighting at times and Philly likes to hit, which hopefully brings out strong play from Ott, Morrow, Segal and pumps Dallas up a little. The key is the first 2 goals of this game. I think if either team takes a 2-0 lead then they could take control of this game throughout. Hopefully Dallas comes out playing smart off the opening face-off and can play like they did Tuesday.