|16||Balt||SD||@ Minn||Phil||@ Wash||GB|
|17||@ Phil||Oak||ST L||@ SF||Dal||@ Hou|
Stars play another bad team tonight as the Coyotes visit…while fully coming to terms with the fact that they are a bad team and therefore have trouble beating bad teams….James Mirtle does the math on why the Stars can likely forget the playoffs….
This obviously isn't a surprise given everything that's gone on. Avery has three and a half years left on a four-year, $15-million contract that's going to be awfully difficult to unload unless the Stars eat half the salary.
Dallas' options would seem to be using re-entry waivers to try and find a taker for Avery at half his cap hit (about $1.9-million until 2011-12) or buying him out at two-thirds of the remaining three years for $8-million. The Stars would then be left with $1.33-million of cap space dedicated to that buyout for the next six years.
By the numbers, Avery's play in Dallas has been fine, and he's being made into a bit of a scapegoat here. He leads the team in Corsi, has a low goals against at even strength and is one of the few plus forwards on the team. He was also one of the better producers on an awful Stars power play.
Avery may have been a distration, but Dallas' major problems consist of (a) bad goaltending and (b) the worst special teams in the league (where Avery isn't a major contributer). The Stars are ranked dead last in team save percentage (.878), tied for 29th on the power play and 28th at killing penalties.
The team shed an awful lot of depth last season at all positions, does not have a capable backup goaltender and has been giving solid minutes all season to Niklas Grossman and Matt Niskanen on the blueline. The team's been getting very little production out of Mike Ribeiro, Fabian Brunnstrom is getting beat up badly defensively, and with Brenden Morrow out for the rest of the season, there's a very real leadership void there, too.
They're going to improve over the remainder of the season, no question, but Dallas needs a record of 34-18-1 — a 107-point pace — to hit 95 points this season.
That's not going to happen.
The Stars already have $42.7-million commited to the salary cap for next season, as well, and are poised to lose Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov as free agents. If they decide to re-sign those two long-time Stars, the makeup of the team next season could be very, very similar to the one currently in dead last in the Western Conference.
Mike Heika escribe el mismo tambien …
This is not where the Dallas Stars pictured themselves – and yet it's a reality they're trying hard to grasp.
Midway through December, with the next four games against teams that are not in playoff position, the 11-14-4 Stars are getting about as close as they can to "must-win" mode.
"Look at where we are," coach Dave Tippett said. "If we don't start thinking that every game is like a playoff game for us right now, then we're not going to be in the playoffs, simple as that."
The Stars are only five points out of eighth place, the last playoff spot in the West. But they also are 15th in the West, meaning they are competing with seven other teams to get that one spot. Bottom line: A team that has won consecutive games only once this season now has to go on a heck of a win streak – and starting tonight against ninth-place Phoenix would be a good way to start.
"Those are teams that you're right there with, and we're probably going to be right there with them for the next couple of months," center Brad Richards said. "You've got to beat them and start digging into the hole right now. It's all good and well to get up against the Red Wings, but you've got to do it against everybody."
The Stars' upset win over Detroit last week actually did little to help them in the standings, because they lost the next night at Nashville.
"We're not in a position where we can take any steps back, and I felt we did that against Nashville," Tippett said. "There's very little room for error. Just because you've got injuries doesn't mean you can't play your hardest and give yourself the best chance to win every night."
The Stars are without six injured regulars and won't even be able to put newly acquired center Brian Sutherby into the lineup tonight. The former Anaheim Duck is nursing a groin injury and probably will be out for at least two more games. And while Joel Lundqvist (shoulder) and Jere Lehtinen (upper body) skated in practice Monday, the Stars could have to go with the recent bare-bones lineup for the next two games.
"With the position that we've put ourselves in, unfortunately the challenge is there every night to constantly be thinking about points," goalie Marty Turco said. "There are no easy games any more."
And for a team that has averaged 100 points per season for the past decade and had designs on contending for the Stanley Cup this year, that is an odd feeling.
"I do recall some nights in the past where it used to be easier, but that was a time when the whole setup was different and we felt confident we were one step ahead in the way we played," Turco said. "We need to get back to feeling that way."
I wanted to include this today because I have a lot of Packers fans all over my case about not being thrilled out of my mind by Aaron Rodgers, year #1. Look, I know when I excuse Tony Romo at times, I remind people he is young. But could you imagine sending Troy Aikman away because you thought Tony Romo was great and needed the starts?
Well, the Jets put up with Favre and all his drama and interceptions, and now 9-5, they are close to winning their division.
Meanwhile, the Packers, with Rodgers and his great QB ratings, are 5-9, and don’t have to put up with Favre’s interceptions anymore. And they don’t have to put up with going to the playoffs either.
This story shows that while Favre understands what it take to win, Rodgers has yet to learn that one …given that Favre has more wins than any QB ever, who would think he would impact the win totals for the Jets and Packers?
And no, I will not get over it.
Will Rodgers be awesome in 2012? Sure. But, in 2008, I cannot fathom turning a 13-3
team into a 6-10 team faster than what the Packers brass did.
The longer the streak goes, the harder it gets for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers' 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars marked the seventh time this season that Rodgers had the ball in his hands late in the fourth quarter with a chance to beat a team and wasn't able to do it. The defense collapsed at the end of the game, but Rodgers had 1 minute 50 seconds to lead the team to a winning touchdown.
"I get paid to make plays and I need to make plays," Rodgers said. "I haven't been doing that as often as I want to be or should be. I take it upon myself. I'm disappointed. I've got to make the throws. I haven't been making them and I take that right on my shoulders."
Rodgers completed 20 of 32 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown with one interception, so his day wasn't a complete loss.
But the game followed a familiar script, in which Rodgers can't get the Packers into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, the defense gives up the lead and Rodgers can't pull out a last-minute rally. It's a scene that has been played out numerous times this season.
Whether it all falls on Rodgers' shoulders is a matter of opinion.
"I think it's the whole offense," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The quarterback is a big part of it. The 2-minute drive there at the end, really, without seeing the film as far as the throw and coverage and so forth, I couldn't really answer that accurately without seeing the film."
Bill Simmons gold …
Dallas Basketball.com on Gerald Wallace ….
Boomer! Boomer! Billy Simms perhaps is not acting dignified here:
Shelly vs. Ivanans last night: