If you have never seen this video, watch with caution. It is a bit offensive, and it is a bit loud. But, it sends the proper message…..
WE NEED MORE RAIN!
Heika looks at the conundrum of the Stars …
while protecting leads in the third periods of Games 2 and 3, Dallas was outshot 17-7 and 15-4. Is that a sound game plan? Is that not taking chances? Or is that playing not to lose?
"We have stressed it over and over and over in here that we are not a team that sits on a lead," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "And yet when we get out there. ... I don't know, we just don't generate the chances we should."
NHL stats will tell you it's always good to have a third-period lead. Dallas was 30-3-1 during the regular season when leading at the second intermission. The Stars were 25-1-2 when leading after the first period and 32-7-2 when scoring first. Heck, they also seemed to handle being tied very well. The Stars were 28-15 in one-goal games, 6-3 in regular-season overtime and 10-2-5 when tied after two.
"We really have prided ourselves on being a team that can come back in the third period or hold a lead in the third period," defenseman Philippe Boucher said. "That's the time we're at our best."
The Stars, during the regular season, outscored the opposition, 85-64, in the third. They played even in the first and second periods, when the pressure wasn't as high.
"It's not about game plans or anything, it's about execution," Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov said. "We have to make plays just like we have all year. I'll take the blame for that [in Game 3]. I should have been better. But, as a team, we have done this all year, and we just have to get back to that. It's shift by shift, play by play, focus on what you can control."
Tippett said appearances aren't always what they seem. He said the team isn't sitting on leads, and the players are mad about Sunday's outcome, which was caused by mental mistakes.
But, he added, the Stars are smart enough to correct the errors.
"Losing is not fun," Tippett said. "But we have a very resilient group in there, and we haven't really done anything easy all year."
So maybe it's time to do things the tough way, because there might not be any other choice. In NHL history, teams that are up, 3-1, in a series and hold home ice are 127-10 (.927) in winning the series. That means a loss for the Stars in Game 4 pretty much ends the season on another disappointing note – unless they can become a part of that 7.3 percent that find a miracle.
So while Tuesday night's tilt isn't officially a win or be eliminated game, it is about as close as the Stars can come. And maybe that will create the desire to remain aggressive for all 60 minutes – or more.
The Stars have scored two goals or less in more than half of their playoff games under coach Dave Tippett, and the result hasn't been good. A look at how the Stars have fared in the playoffs based on their offensive production:
2 goals or less 2-11
3 goals 2-3
4 goals or more 5-2
Jen wants the big players to be big players …seems reasonable enough…
Stars forward Mike Ribeiro participated in practice Monday, thus answering a big question after Game 3.
Yes, he is still on the team.
He just has been a no-show in this playoff series. And he hasn't been alone in his disappearing act. Many of the Stars' big-name, big-talent players have been reported missing against Vancouver -- Ribeiro, Mike Modano on down.
"Our best players have to find a way to make a difference," Stars coach Dave Tippett fumed after Sunday's loss.
One problem: Their best players have not been their best players.
Their checking line has been doing the heavy lifting, with Stu Barnes, Joel Lundqvist and Jeff Halpern accounting for all of the Stars' goals in the past two games.
"It's nice to contribute, but I don't think anyone is mistaking myself for Mike Modano or Mike Ribeiro or Jere Lehtinen or Brenden Morrow," Halpern said. "I think those guys have consistently been our guys this year."
What they have not been is the guys in the playoffs. Not this year, not last.
They are not on the scoresheet. They are not making the plays that get somebody else on the scoresheet. It is as if they are invisible at times, which is the case with Eric Lindros, who actually is MIA.
Everybody else is just kind of there, but not really all there.
"Yeah," Modano said, "I guess you can say I'm missing."
What the Stars have to do is find their best players before Game 4 tonight or risk losing the series, too.
From Vancouver, the plight of Mr. Modano is being considered …
The harsh opening line from a column flogging Mike Modano in a Dallas newspaper said it all:
Three games. Zero goals.
This first-round playoff series hasn't been easy so far for Modano, who's maybe battling a little age-related corrosion, a slump and an asphyxiating Vancouver defence bent on stopping him and Dallas captain Brenden Morrow.
In a tightly played series with little room for anyone, no one has been played tighter than Modano, who has to feel like he's playing games in Cell Block M.
Through the neutral zone, Canucks forwards have engulfed Modano like a snowstorm, slowing and redirecting him before handing the job off to Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchell.
In Game 3, Modano managed just one shot on net in 22:54 of playing time. Afterward, the frustration was starting to seep through.
"The scoring chances are slim and none out there,'' Modano said after the game. "You try to make the most of it when you do get it. You've got to work through their checkers, then you've got to go through [Willie] Mitchell and then you've still got [Roberto] Luongo. ... We've got our hands full.''
The Canucks have thus far nicely executed their two-pronged game plan to stop Modano, which involves the forwards and the defencemen.
"The forwards have been making life a lot easier for us," said Mitchell. "They are doing a terrific job of slowing him down through the neutral zone, which prevents him from generating speed. Mike is not really a player who's going to be effective off the cycle and down low. Everything he does is through the neutral zone."
The Canucks are trying to match Mitchell and Bieksa as often as possible with the Modano line, and so far they've stopped him cold.
Also, the poor Canuck goalie doesn’t like being bumped …
Are these deliberate acts of malfeasance, a concerned observer asked.
"For sure," Luongo answered. "Why else would they be bumping me after the whistle like that. There's no one around them. It's not like they can say someone is pushing them into me.
"A couple of times it was flagrant. You just have to fight through the situations. You can't let it affect you."
But you can let it entertain you.
If you were looking for a sign the Canucks and Stars are now hooked up in an honest-to-goodness, we-hate-them, they-hate-us playoff series, the sight of Luongo engaged in the time-honoured postseason tradition of manufacturing a controversy seemed to signal an intensification of hostilities.
True, the uber-goalie has been bumped a couple of times by the Stars in an amateurish attempt to throw him off his game. But apparently it reached the level that coach Alain Vigneault felt it necessary to sound the alarm following the Canucks' 2-1 overtime win on Sunday, a game in which Luongo stopped 29 of 30 Dallas
Now it should be noted the seriousness of this matter is a subject of some debate. The Stars are barely aware of it. Come to think of it, so are some of Luongo's teammates.
But we will say this. It's infinitely more interesting than anything the Canucks and Stars have put on the ice since regulation time ended in Game 1.
"Definitely it hurt (when he was hit by Nagy)," said Luongo. "I wasn't lying on the ice faking it. That's not my style."
Nor is this Vigneault's, but the coach also stayed on message.
"There were a couple of incidents in Vancouver where it was tough to see Louis
getting bumped in there," said Vigneault. "Louis got hit twice (in Game 3) and once he almost got hurt. ... It's something we hope the referees are going to be able to see and when they see it, call it."
Other Canucks, meanwhile, didn't seem to take the perceived assault on Luongo as personally. Willie Mitchell noted bumping into the goalie has been in the playoffs as long as the puck has been round.
"The other team is going to try to get him off his game, just as we try to do with their elite players," said Mitchell. "Roberto is going to have to put up with a certain amount of it."
Off to Hoops, where the Mavericks can determine who they play against …
The Warriors are on the verge of completing a Lazarus-like comeback. Golden State now holds the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference at the moment. But the Warriors believe they must win Tuesday's game against Dallas and Wednesday at Portland to guarantee an end the NBA's longest playoff drought.
The Mavs have some motivation; they've lost four straight in this series. But Golden State's Jason Richardson said his team wants to deliver a message that a potential Mavs-Warriors playoff series won't be easy.
"It's going to be a battle; that's what we want to let them know," said Richardson, who has scorched the Mavs in the past. "Even though we're the eight seed, we're going to battle and play hard."
The Warriors haven't been to the playoffs since Nelson guided them there in 1994. The franchise hasn't won a playoff game since 1992. Bay Area fans probably thought their agony would continue for another year after Golden State fell nine games under .500 in early March.
But instead of throwing in the towel, guard Baron Davis chose to come back after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He's playing limited minutes but averaging 19.5 points over the last 18 games.
Wow! Check the TV Ratings for Sunday …
The Mavericks-Spurs game topped NASCAR's Samsung 500 in Dallas-Fort Worth's crowded Sunday afternoon local television ratings race.
The Mavericks' victory averaged a 6.9 rating (164,220 homes) locally for WFAA (Channel 8) while Texas Motor Speedway's first Nextel Cup race of the year finished with a 6.1 rating (145,180 homes) for KDFW (Channel 4).
It was a different story nationally, where the race on Fox scored a 5.4 major-market rating. It easily beat the NBA game on ABC, which earned a 2.9. The overnight rating for the race was up 13 percent over last year.
Sunday night's Game 3 of the Stars-Canucks opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs averaged a 3.1 rating (73,800 homes) for Fox Sports Net Southwest. It marks the cable network's best rating for a Stars game since a 2004 first-round game against Colorado earned a 3.9.
More Fine work from the Belo Blogs, Tim MacMahon reminds Mavs fans of the wrath of Joey Crawford …
I dug through the DMN archives to find Mark Cuban's response to e-mailed questions from Eddie Sefko after Joey "Rabitt-Eared Horse's Rear" Crawford tossed Nellie for no good reason in Game 2 of a 2003 playoff series vs. the Spurs.
"It's disgraceful that Mr. Crawford threw Nellie out of the game . Nellie has been in this league for 30 years. He has given his heart, his soul and even his health to the game, his players, his teams and the fans. For Mr. Crawford to eject Nellie from a game because he 'tried to show Mr. Crawford up' is wrong.
"If anyone in this league has, Nellie has earned the right to stand on the sidelines and stare at anyone he darn well pleases. If Mr. Crawford is the least bit professional, that should not be the slightest issue at all.
"I think some officials fail to realize just how tenuous success in the NBA is. This is the closest Nellie has been to the Finals in his 30 years of coaching. There are coaches who have NEVER made it to the conference finals and many today who NEVER WILL. The same applies to our players.
"Mr. Crawford has officiated in the conference finals and NBA Finals numerous times. So possibly to him it's no big deal to be there. If that is the case, he has to put that aside and realize that winning a championship is not easy in the NBA and his job is to make sure that the team who played the best on the day that he officiated emerges as the winner and his professional satisfaction comes from enabling that, rather than influencing it."
Rangers in Chicago this week, with:
Tue. at Chi. 7:11 FSNSW Robinson Tejeda (1-1) Jon Garland (0-0)
Wed. at Chi. 7:11 FSNSW Kevin Millwood (2-1) Mark Buehrle (0-0)
Thu at Chi. 7:11 FSNSW Vicente Padilla (0-3) Javier Vazquez (2-
Danks with a few words for the Rangers …
Hearing the letters DVD almost causes John Danks to break out in a rash.
"Tired," the White Sox's rookie left-hander said with a weary sigh. "So tired. We hated it."
The letters DVD stood for the first letters of the last names of Danks, Edinson Volquez and Thomas Diamond, who were hyped as the nucleus of the Texas Rangers' promising pitching future.
Danks and reliever Nick Masset departed Texas in December in an intriguing deal that sent popular White Sox right-hander Brandon McCarthy to the Rangers.
The anger several Sox fans expressed over general manager Ken Williams' decision to trade the 23-year-old McCarthy overshadowed the Rangers' decision to trade two of the top prospects in an organization desperate for pitching quality and quantity at the major-league level.
The Rangers' staff ERA is 5.07, 13th in the American League, heading into Tuesday's opener of a three-game series with the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Masset made eight appearances with the Rangers as a reliever last season. He and Danks welcomed the change of scenery and earned spots on the Sox's Opening Day roster.
"Pitching is a big thing over there," Masset said. "That's a big question for them all the time. The funny thing is there is a lot of good talent over there. I don't think they put together the right combinations when they needed to. I don't know what happened."
Danks isn't scheduled to face his former team in this series, though Masset might get the call out of the bullpen.
Neither has kept up with the Rangers' staff, whose starters have combined for a 5.97 ERA, with only veteran Kevin Millwood (3.71) below 4.50.
Danks is 0-2 but has allowed only five runs in his first two major-league starts after beating out Gavin Floyd for the fifth spot in the rotation.
His ability to throw strikes in spring training impressed the Sox's coaching staff.
Masset gained favorable notice in the third game of the season, pitching 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the Sox's 4-3 comeback victory over the Indians.
"I couldn't be in a happier situation or a better situation," Masset said. "I'm happy where I am and with what I'm doing for the team."
It's a fresh start for a twosome who represent a major part of the Sox's future after facing a similar burden in Texas, where they grew weary of the expectations placed upon them.
"It was all hype," Danks said. "It was one of those things where they build you up. You have one rough game and people write you off. Rangers fans are pretty fair-weathered anyway."
Rogers on Sosa’s return to Chicago …
Sking in North Texas? …
Duncan Ejected; Ortegal smirks…
My little brother makes a tandem jump from 13,000 feet. And, he has a crazy smile on his face all the way down…
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