Shrugging. It’s about all you can do after the Star’s Wednesday and Friday night exhibitions with the Ducks. After throwing many a stress (or real) ball at your TV, it’s all you probably had left to do aside from hurting someone or something (perhaps a duck). It’s been a rough path to say the least for the Stars and their fan base. We’ve watched them somewhat and then 2 days later COMPLETELY outplay the “best” team in the West. They outshot Anaheim yesterday by a margin of 36-19 but only found a way to get 2 goals while sacrificing 3.
Now a lot of things can be blamed for the appearance of the Stars 0-2 hole. Some say that Lehtonen is solely responsible for handing over 7 goals in a 2 game span including 54 shots while the rookie sitting in the opposite pipes has give away 5 in 71 shots. Some could say that the Stars are reverting to their old ways of taking the lead and then taking the foot off the gas thus allowing Anaheim to pull back. Some could say that the refs blew last night’s game and neglected to call a slash on Cogliano during the Star’s power play (which by the way went 1 for 6 last night) thus resulting in the criminal scoring the game winner while playing short handed. There are a lot of blames to be called and served here.
But this is not the end of the road. A win would have really helped last night but now they face a 2 game deficit with the next two in Big D. They can still take control and win the series. And here are 3 reasons how:
1. Home games ahead
The Stars went into Anaheim with high expectations but came out empty handed. They started out Game 1 looking jitterish and just not ready to tackle a playoff game yet. After 4 goals from Anaheim about 30 minutes into the game, they finally realized that if they wanted to win they were going to have to play like they had done towards the end of the season. They completely caught Anaheim by surprise and stormed back to within a shot with just over 6 minutes in the third, but couldn’t cap the last goal off. A similar situation came about Friday except they scored first with energy then fell asleep. So both sides of the spectrum have been used. Start strong, then go weak and start weak, then go strong. After giving up a shorthanded goal, they decided they needed a comeback and got to within a shot with 10 minutes left this time, but still could not find an equalizer. These games roughed them up, but they finally get to come home to a home crowd that is ready to yell until their lungs turn green. Anaheim had a strong boost from the crowd, and Dallas is going to look for the same if they want to equal the series at 2 on their way back to Anaheim for Game 5. The Stars have looked great recently at home, going 8-1-1 in their last ten, and that was without a jam-packed arena full of screaming fans, some not even knowing what hockey is. If they can make a strong argument at home, they’ll even it up at 2 and go back to Anaheim with the momentum on their side and hopefully be able to cap one off on the West coast.
2. The Stars are still kicking
Anaheim is probably still breathing heavy from last night’s game and wondering, “Why haven’t these guys given up yet?” and they should be. The Stars have not given up on either game so far. Sure they’ve made some mistakes and caught a few bad breaks. But every team does that! The fact that they fight to the final horn every night should be cause of great relief to Stars fans and should establish some hope. They have grit and are showing it to Anaheim. When they’ve been down (which has been about 111 of the 120 minutes played so far) they have clawed back and almost grabbed a win. They have stayed physical and angered their opponent (sorry Perry). If they continue to battle for the full 60 minutes and maintain the puck, they will be able to take hold of this series.
3. Andersen WILL fall
This is unbelievable to say the least. While all of our first time playoffers were trying to concentrate in Game 1, this new playoffer decided to stop 32 of 35 shots faced, with a lot of drama involved as well. Frederik Andersen has carried his team through both games so far this series while Lehtonen has been skidding by. The Stars have played some of their best hockey this season but have for the most part been unable to take down the brick wall that the Ducks have put up in the net. But this cannot go on forever. No rookie goalie can hold on for this long. If the Stars can consistently put up 35+ shots on him per night, they’ll gain those two wins back in a heartbeat. He is slowly gaining confidence through each win and too much confidence is bad for anyone, especially in a playoff situation. With the away crowd atmosphere in his face as well, look for deterioration to occur.
So it’s been rough to watch them outplay the duckies two games in a row and still lose. But they can still do this. Two wins is necessary but can be overcome with 2 home tilts coming up. If they can play with the same consistency they played with for most of last night, we could be waiting for round 2 any moment now. Don’t let the losses rattle your faith. Stay strong and get ready for Monday, Dallas, it’s gonna get crazy (and probably even more physical than last night). Go Stars!