Mama always said there would be days like this . . .
The CBJ had just about everything go wrong tonight that could go wrong, and dropped a 7 - 3 decision to the Dallas Stars, further tightening the Western Conference playoff race.
The tone was set early when Dallas gets three goals on 8 shots of a defletion from Methot's skate, another end board deflection, and a 2 on 1 after Russell hits the post (1 of 4 posts nailed by the CBJ tonight, on top of a number of other great chances that were either saved by Turco, or went just wide or just high). Mase was given an early rest, and Dubielewicz came in for what proved to be an inauspicious debut. We closed to 3 - 2, off of a nifty goal by Huselius, and a power play goal by Tyutin, but some softies made it 5 to 2 pretty quickly. Boll made a tenacious goal to narrow it to 5 - 3, but another bouncer and another long distance bomb ended it.
No point in debating anything about this game. We got our rear ends handed to us, and Dallas got every bounce, while we didn't. Not an excuse, but factual nonetheless. We had several opportunities for a long lead pass to an open winger, but another of our guys in the same general direction intercepted the pass, thinking it was headed for them. That kind of night. Give Dallas credit for being tenacious all night and putting big pressure in our zone. Conversely we had long stretches of the latter part of the first period and much of the second, where we dominated play in their zone.
No plusses tonight, though Huselius worked hard, as did Commodore and Malhotra. Nash and Voracek were also hard workers. Here are the major minuses:
-- Policing Our Own End -- We were simply awful in our own end tonight. Dallas watched us play a slowed down game last night, and clearly made the choice to force the tempo all night, bringing all 5 skaters into the offense early and often. It worked. We had too much gap between our defensemen and forwards, didn't cover the passing lanes, and were sloppy in our clears. We gave up wide open opportunities, and for one of the few times this year, we did not have the goaltending to plug the gaps. We lost every battle for the puck along the boards, and were slow reacting all night.
--Cashing Opportunities -- In most of the games where the goaltending was not up to par, the offense filled the gap and stepped up the scoring. We put 3 on the board tonight, but could have had 8 without much trouble. Some credit to Turco, sure, but we missed some painfully wide open nets early that could have swung the momentum and kept the crowd engaged.
--Goaltending -- Maybe the first time I have had to put this one in as a minus since Mason emerged on the scene. Mase was not awful, and the defense put him in a bad situation, but those bad bounce goals early kind of got to him, and a nice move by Hitch to give him a rest. Hopefully that knock he took to the knee did not get worse. I know Dubielewicz has not played anywhere in awhile, and has not played an NHL game in an even longer spell, but Oh My Word . . . He looks less comfortable in the pipes than Chimera looks at center. At leat two shots from near the blue line found their mark, and he repeatedly gave up huge, juicy delectable rebounds. We need to work him hard to get him back in game shape, or renew our interest in Sanford.
Everything aligned wrong for us tonight, and yet when it was 3 - 2 and we were forcing all of the action, I think almost everyone at Nationwide believed we had taken control of the game. Didn't happen tonight, but just the fact that the feeling was in the house is a quantum shift for the CBJ. These types of games used to be standard fare, and now they are pretty damn rare. It happens to every team, and it was just our turn in the barrell. Ask Edmonton, who got blasted by Buffalo 10 - 2 the other night. Detroit dropped their 4th straight tonight as well.
We need to put this behind us and move on to the St. Louis game. We have won 2 out of 3 since the break, and if we keep that pace up, we will easily make the playoffs. As Tony Soprano would say == fuggedaboudit!