First off, I know this road trip will still be considered a success if we can get 2 points against the Islanders tonight. That doesn’t change how terrible that loss was last night to New Jersey and how it showed this team has so many problems it may not be able to overcome this year. I’ll start from the goalie and move out (imagine Optimus Prime saying that part)
Marty showed flashes of playing well last night as his defense and offsense collapsed around him and offered no help. That being sad, he is still playing poorly this season. He goes into these slumps every season, but he has never had to play himself out of one before. Tippett always gave the starts to Hedberg, Tugger, or Smitty for a week or so while Marty would work out his problems in practice. He’d come back in 3 or 4 games and everything would roll along smoothly in net again. That’s not happening this year. I think Tippett expects Marty to play out of his slump, and I’m not sure how well it’s working out for him.
Our defense corps has problems. Of our three amazing rookies from last year, one of them is starting with what looks to be a bad sophomore slump. Niskanen has been out on front of Marty for a LOT of the goals scored against us. Tippett seems to have something against Fistric since he’s barely been playing him in games or scratching him so Janik can play. Grossman has been playing well compared to the others, but definitely not at the level we need him to be at. I really don’t think Trevor Daley is very good, and he’s definitely not the second coming of Darryl Sydor like so many people promised. He’s out there with Niskanen for almost all the goals. Boucher has been relatively invisible so far this season, but I give him a bit of a break because he did miss most of last season and training camp so it has to be harder for him to come back. I have nothing but good to say of Robi. Except for taking a few suspect penalties, he’s been our best guy on defense.
Our offense has been producing enough goals to win most games, so the biggest problem with our offense is their inability to play defense. I noticed last night how far away most of the forwards were from the defensemen when the Devils were skating the puck into our zone. Most of them forget that they have to actually play defense when they are out on the ice. Our 3 rookies look like they’re having a lot of trouble getting back to play the puck, and a large part of that is that they’re new to the league and will need some time to get used to the system. Brad Richards has been such a disappointment to this team. His defensive skills are severely lacking, and in my dad’s words he thinks “defense is what separates his yard from the neighbor’s”. Sean Avery spends most of his time skating in circles and never really doing anything worthwhile. He doesn’t look anything like a player getting paid $4 million a year.
The only forwards I actually skating after the puck into the defensive end are Brenden, Modano, Petersen, and Ott (when he is playing). So that gives us 3-4 forwards who consistently skate for the puck to help support the defensemen. Match that with our young defense corps that’s not playing up to its ability and we have a LOT of problems.
This team follows Brenden Morrow, and everyone can see that Morrow is really frustrated on the ice. He takes penalties simply because he’s angry and uses his force to break someone’s stick, knock them over, etc. I know these are stupid penalties, but I can’t help look at him like a silly puppy that does something bad so I have problems being mad at him. He needs to play better though because most members of this team will pick up their play if he picks up his.
One thing that has gone relatively unnoticed in this season so far is the resurgence of Mike Modano. The only 2 wins the Stars have come from games he scored at least 1 goal in. He has been flying all over the ice, and it’s so nice to see after watching him the past several seasons.
So Stars, the Sign Girls are calling you out. Play better!
One last thing: Congrats to Ralph and Razor for winning 2 more Lone Stars Emmys for their amazing job of covering Game 6 of the San Jose series in May.