Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stars are in Trouble

Sometimes in sports, things happen that you have never seen before. Saturday night, around 11:30pm, with the Stars holding a 4-0 lead with roughly 7:30 left in the game in Los Angeles, everything went horribly wrong and incredibly absurd all at the same time:

From the Play by Play

7:14 left, Brown Goal for Los Angeles (PP) 4-1
5:59 left, Thornton Goal for Los Angeles 4-2
4:25 left, Frolov Goal for Los Angeles 4-3
4:01 left, Kopitar Goal for Los Angeles 4-4
2:07 left, Nagy Goal for Los Angeles (PP) 5-4, Los Angeles
1:03 left, Modano Goal for Dallas (PP) 5-5
2:26 left in Overtime, Kopitar Goal for Los Angeles 6-5 Winner

That is right. 7 goals in the final minutes of the game and overtime, 6 by the Los Angeles Kings. And, according to my math, Marty Turco surrendered 6 goals on a grand total of 7 shots to end that game.

To suggest that this was about as sad a moment as I have seen the Stars is a fair assessment of a complete and total meltdown.

The men in question had things to say after the colossal meltdown

Marty Turco:

"If last week's home stretch and meetings and look-in-the-mirror talk wasn't enough, then we sure have some big problems here," Turco said after the game.

"The whole third period was brutal," Turco said. "Other than embarrassing, it's a total lack of respect for each other. You can't just sit back and wait for it to go your way. You've got to make things happen. And we haven't been making enough happen. We were just lucky to get a point out of all that."

My thoughts: I am not positive what he is talking about here, with the total respect part. But, I do know this, for $6 million a season, and nobody else higher than $4.25 million, I need my goaltender to be my best player on a regular basis. Like Kiprusoff, Luongo, Ludqvist, and Broduer, he needs to be the best player on his team. Marty is not. Marty gave up 6 goals on 7 shots, and Marty is who takes about 98% of the blame in my book for this embarrassing situation. Make things happen? How about make a save. That would be nice, Marty, and too many times in these big situations, the goaltending has been average.

And Average goaltending in this league gets you beat.

Doug Armstrong:

"It's just one game," Stars general manager Doug Armstrong said. "It's disappointing and it's eye-opening, but you're certainly not going to base major decisions on one game."

My Thoughts: Actually, Army, the Stars are 3-6 in their last 9, in a stretch where 8 of the 9 games were inside the division. That is not one game. Nor is the statistic of the Stars blowing 5 3rd period leads this season. That is not one game, either.

I was talking with a Stars official today, and I made the bold claim that if I had to make a bet today, I would bet that the Stars are not going to make the playoffs. This team is so average and so flawed that I cannot with a clean conscience suggest that they can work their way into a top 8 finish in the West. That is the bad news. The worse news is that they are an old team with many of their finer players past their prime. I am not sure what they can do anymore to fix this issue either.

Do I think a coach needs to be fired? Do I think a trade needs to be made? I certainly don’t have the answers. I don’t see how a new coach could make that large of a difference, and since I have no idea what is available on the trade market, it is crazy to say whether I think that is the path to take (Marian Hossa? Sign me up). I do know that much of this primarily happens because in the era of the salary cap, your best compensated players better be some of your better players. But, when your top 3 paid players are somehow Turco, Norstrom (I’m not kidding) and Modano, well, you see why this team is on pace for 82 points. There are no impact kids up front, it appears, and the vets are getting older and less effective.

I know I have written something to this effect a few times now, but it just bothers the heck out of me that I feel hockey is dying a slow and painful death at the AAC these days. They really need a bold strike, and that has nothing to do with billboards or ice girls. It has to do with hockey. This hockey team needs a hockey revival fast.

But, given the track record of the local baseball team recently, isn’t it fair to ask if anyone is willing to do anything to keep the ship from sinking?

Forbes takes a shot at Hicks

It is a good thing Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks is a billionaire. Otherwise, he might not survive the mess he has made of the Dallas franchise. The team, which owns 50% of American Airlines Center, is saddled with $200 million in debt (the team's holding company, Southwest Sports, defaulted on $135 million of debt four years ago), a high payroll, and an under-performing team that can't make it past the first round of the playoffs. The natives have clearly gotten restless, illustrated by sagging ticket sales and waning interest in the Dallas market for the Stars. In the face of this Hicks has actually increased the team's marketing staff to boost ticket sales. What he really needs is a better product.

Cowlishaw points out that Owens is the difference between the Cowboys and Packers

if you believe the Cowboys are now the best team in the NFC, you have to admit that the No. 1 reason is Terrell Owens.

It's true.

It's not Tony Romo, because what separates Romo from Brett Favre? He leads the NFC's other 8-1 team that is trying to lock down home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Romo, who has three more NFL starts than his Green Bay idol has years as an NFL starter, owns a slightly better passer rating. Favre has thrown for a few more yards. But you can't say you like the Cowboys better than the Packers because of the quarterback position, even if Romo has youth on his side.

Romo's motivation to get to his first Super Bowl cannot be any stronger than Favre's desire to get to his last one.

And you're not going to pick Dallas' advantage in the running game as the reason you like the Cowboys better, either. The Cowboys' backs have better numbers for the year. But Marion Barber's last two games have not been his best.

Meanwhile, Green Bay appears to have found something in Ryan Grant. In three starts against Denver, Kansas City and Minnesota, Grant has 66 carries for 278 yards. His 119 Sunday against Minnesota, one of the league's best run-stuffing teams, signaled the arrival of a new back on the block.

As for defense, there's no need even to break it down. Green Bay has allowed 53 fewer points this year than the Cowboys. Even if things have settled down in the secondary with the return of Anthony Henry, you can't give the Cowboys a defensive edge on the Packers.

Owens is where you find the Cowboys' big advantage on the Packers. Favre spreads the ball around to a number of receivers. Even though Favre has passed for the most yards in the NFL, his go-to guy, Donald Driver, isn't in the top 20 in receiving yards.

Owens is posting staggering numbers now – 50 catches for 855 yards and eight touchdowns. He has more 20-yard plays than New England's Randy Moss. You see less of Owens fighting the ball with his hands this year.

My guess is that Cowboys fans who reluctantly cheered for him last year embrace him now. They see where he has a chance to lead the team.

Sure, there are some out there who aren't going to give it up for Owens under any circumstances. Doesn't matter.

What does is that he has a special rapport with Romo that sets him apart from the rest of the NFC. The only other receiver in the conference with more than 700 yards is Arizona's outstanding young Larry Fitzgerald. He has 811 yards. He also has three fumbles.

Owens has none.

The Cowboys could be 11-1 after this homestand

The Dallas Cowboys are staring at history.

By the time December comes, the 8-1 Cowboys could be 11-1, which would be the best start the franchise has had in its 48 years.

"I know we've got seven games remaining right now and four are in Dallas," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after Sunday's 31-20 win against the New York Giants. "That's what I really like. What we've done on the road is important, but we've got four home games left."

Even better for Jones, the next three games are at Texas Stadium, starting with Sunday's matchup against Washington. That's followed by visits by the New York Jets on Thanksgiving and then co-NFC leader Green Bay, in what may be Brett Favre's last Texas Stadium appearance, on Nov. 29.

The Cowboys have never started better than 9-1.

The Cowboys have won nine of their last 10 home games against the Redskins; the Jets are 1-8 this year and using young quarterback Kellen Clemens; and Favre is 0-8 all time in Irving.

"It's good to come back home, that's for sure," coach Wade Phillips said. "We feel comfortable at home, although we have played extremely well on the road. I think you'd rather play at home and in front of the home crowd."

But Phillips is not interested in history, just the Redskins.

Last week, Phillips reminded his team it has done nothing. When the Cowboys return to work Wednesday, he will relay the same message.

On to college football, where the big interest is in Mike Leach and his Red Raiders stand in Austin. Despite being Switzerland in Big 12 talk, I have repeatedly pledged my admiration to Leach, and his renegade style. However, I do find his rant on Saturday mistimed, and therefore, comical.

I had said that my schedule took me out of the mix on the game, but I have reviewed all of the controversial plays in the game that were brought to my attention.

The Crabtree catch clearly hit the ground. The Britton Touchdown clearly hit the ground, and the holding penalty that brought back the Touchdown on that drive was a textbook tackle by your OL. The only real issue was how did the refs miss Melton roughing the QB? Otherwise, it looks like Leach blew his stack and tried to blame the refs, despite the reality of Texas scoring 59 and punting once all day.

So, I am not saying he is wrong in his rant, I am saying that he used some real poor examples:

Jimmy Burch on Mike Leach trying to get changes made

Leach’s Rant:

Soccer Announcer Comedy ….

Drew Carey will co-own a soccer team in Seattle, and he brings bits

Gaschk confirms that former sitcom star "Price is Right" host Drew Carey, who is at the pub, is co-owner of the new team along with Paul Allen, Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer and Hollywood mogul Joe Roth.

"Yeah, he's here right now," Skokna yelled. "He's doing an interview, then he's probably gonna watch the rest of football. It's the Arsenal vs. Reading."

Carey must have quite a bit of influence. Gaschk reports that due to Carey's
insistence, the new team -- which kicks off its first season in 2009 -- will be the only professional franchise in America to have a marching band.

And here's another radical idea: Fans will be able to buy membership in the team, which will give them the power to vote out the general manager. That, too, came from Carey.

This is a bit old, but a very solid feature story on Steve Nash from the NY Times …complete with information on the marriage of Manny Maholtra to Steve’s sister…

CJ Wilson goes to Liverpool

Also, our feature blog of the week comes to us from inside the metroplex: Check out dallastxsports.blogspot.com

Nash can play Soccer better than you

Total Eclipse


Andy D. said...

First thing, I am not a die hard Stars fan. I watched closely when Hitch ran the show here and after the pantry was cleaned out when he was let go, I left too. The face of the franchise needs to have the last years of his hockey career mean a little more than what we have to endure now.
My solution is...Trade Mo.
He deserves to play for a title before he retires, and we can get some good stuff for him right now.

Oh dear, Stars hockey is fading faster around here than the Sidekicks did back in the 80's and they were better.

What do you think Sturminator?

mrowlou said...

As I said at the start of the season. There is no way this Stars team makes the playoffs.

They DID ZERO over the summer to get younger. And did NOTHING to make an old team score more goals.

And the Turco contract is still the worst decision Armstrong has made. A no trade clause? WTF???

Here is my suggestion.

Hicks needs to fire Armstrong, keep tipp, and fire the entire scout staff. Tell the new GM to sell the farm. Trade EVERYONE. Get as young as you can. Take chances, etc.

Hire a scout staff that actually knows something about hockey. And have a good draft.

Forget about '07-'08, and '08-'09. The goal is to be in the western conference championship in '10.

(and do whatever it takes to get out of the pacific division. Its killing your fan base)