Remember winning? 12 days ago was the last time that this team improved their point total in the standings. 12 days when this conference has teams moving north every single night with points of their own.
But, last night, the Dallas Stars found a performance that they can really be proud of by beating a frustrated Sharks team in San Jose.
Gritty, abrasive, and determined, the Stars rolled out quite playoff-like effort. Dave Tippett after the game reminded us that of the games in the 5 game losing streak, the Stars deserved a better fate in 3 of them. He has a point, but as he knows, the harsh reality of sports is found on the scoreboard, and the Stars kept breathing last night with their 4-1 win.
Things I liked:
• James Neal is a wonderful piece of this team’s future. 20 goals for the rookie, and the sky is the limit for the young lad. We all know for a fact that teams ask for him when they call in trade talks, and we also know that the Stars don’t even consider it. Good. He is a keeper.
• The Grossman and Fistric pairing gets me excited after nights like last night. Grossman was in the penalty box quite a bit, but you know what? Hatcher and Matvichuk were in the box, too. When you engage in 25 minutes of hand to hand combat, you are occasionally going to cross the line. That is ok. They are exactly what this team needed.
• Steve Begin was very abrasive last night. He was driving Dan Boyle crazy. If the 3rd and 4th line continues to bring the noise, they have a chance.
• The Penalty Kill looks very steady.
• That arena is awesome. If you go on the road with the Stars, I cannot recommend San Jose enough. It is no Calgary or Edmonton, but the building is full (really full – all seats taken), loud, and intimate. The concourse is a ghost town during game play. The fans are dialed in, and the building is alive.
• Mike Modano has scored hundreds and hundreds of goals. There is no question that spot on the ice where he scored from last night in the most crucial goal of the game was from his “hot spot”. I bet 100+ have been scored right there, where he is on the goalie’s left – almost on the goal line – and just spanks it home. What a talented player.
• This raises BaD Radio’s record on the Stars plane to 8-3-3. Points in 11 of 14? All road games? Not bad.
On to Los Angeles with a bit of pep in their step.
Heika reports …
The Dallas Stars were battling a lot of obstacles Tuesday night.
They had lost five games in a row, had not defeated the San Jose Sharks in four tries this season and were venturing into the HP Pavilion, where the Sharks had lost just twice in regulation this season (in 31 home games).
So just as their team was about to be written off for a sure defeat, the Stars put together one of their best team games of the season and routed the league-leading Sharks, 4-1.
"We got rewarded tonight," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We created a lot of chances, we capitalized on those chances, we defended hard when we had to, and Marty Turco made some great saves when he had to. We competed really, really hard, and that’s the way it’s going to be if we’re going to be successful."
The Stars pushed their record to 30-26-7, 67 points, good for 10th place in the West. They are just one point out of seventh place with 19 games remaining in the season.
"It’s going to be a battle every night, but it was nice to be rewarded," said center Mike Modano, who broke a 16-game goal drought and had a goal and an assist. "From start to finish, everybody played with purpose. It was just a real complete game."
Tippett juggled his lines and put Loui Eriksson and Chris Conner on a line with Modano. He then moved Brian Sutherby onto a more skilled line with James Neal and Fabian Brunnstrom. That second line tallied three goals. Neal broke his own 11-game goal drought and scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season, and Sutherby chipped in a goal and an assist. Brunnstrom added two assists.
"The line of Sutherby and Neal and Brunnstrom was really good, right from the get-go," Tippett said. "They found a way to capitalize on some chances, but it’s creating the chances that makes you feel good, because they were putting the work in to get it done."
TSN’s Trade Central …
Cuban not smiling about his Mavs …Let’s see what they have for the Spurs tonight…
The fallout from Monday's non-effort in Oklahoma came quickly for the Mavericks.
The owner was not pleased.
Mark Cuban wasn't at the debacle. But he watched the sorry showing and probably could smell the stench from north of the border all the way back in Dallas.
And on Tuesday, he promised fans that changes will come if such lousy performances persist with the Mavericks.
"It's only one game, which I keep reminding myself," Cuban said Tuesday. "But let's just say I wasn't happy with our preparation, execution or effort. Not only did it look like we had no idea what we were doing, but we did it without effort.
"The effort and energy, on both sides of the ball, by each player will decide their future with the Mavericks. If each player can't take the personal initiative to make every game important and play like it, I don't see them being here next season."
Cuban, who pours his heart as well as his money into the franchise, wasn't finished.
"The ball won't always bounce the way we want it to, but every player can control their level of effort," he said. "If it's not important enough to them to lay it out every game the rest of the season, they won't be back. I don't care what their contract is. I would rather turn over the roster 100 percent than subject fans to another game like last night.
"This team has the talent to win in the playoffs. But that's only going to happen if all 15 guys know and execute their assignments and play every possession like it's important."
Cuban normally is a staunch defender of his team. But it's clear the Mavericks' inconsistent effort this season has left him just as mystified as the fans about this collection of talent.
Feature on Jason Kidd’s tenure here ..
Why did the Patriots accept a second-round pick for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel? …
In today’s economy, and in our collective interest in finding good value in everything we purchase, a second-round pick is noticeably more valuable than a first. For the amount of guaranteed money that’s required in the first round – especially in the top half of the round – the cost/performance ratio is low. With second-round statistical performance nearly equal to that of first-rounders, the cost/performance ratio is much higher for a second-round pick.
The average guarantee in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft was $11.9M. The average guarantee in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft was $1.9M. The $10M difference is striking and should explain why the Patriots opted for a second-round pick in the deal. It was a no-brainer.
The NFL is slowly becoming more like the NBA, where trades have become less about personnel than about economic value. My prediction is that we eventually will see a time in which teams in the top of the first round trade their pick and more to move down in the draft. Counterintuitive, yes, but economically prudent
I am sometimes asked why I use the Billy Beane quote at the top of my blog. , “Hope is not a strategy”.
Well, to me, it is one of the greatest mistakes that teams make about their team. They hope. And hope is not a strategy or a plan. It is what you do when you don’t have a strategy or a plan.
Michael Lombardi agrees …
Do Not Confuse Hope for a Plan…
I get the sense that some teams are hoping to get a quarterback in the draft and think that will solve their problems. San Francisco, Minnesota (I’m not sold on Sage Rosenfels as the short- or long-term answer; I have a hard time getting that Indy game out of my mind), Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, the Jets (I know they have Brett Ratliff, but I’m not sold on him and it has nothing to do with me hating the Jets) – all are teams that should have gotten involved in trying to trade for Cassel. He won in the NFL last year, and the college players won in college. There’s a big difference.
Mel Gibson in the Colonel
Coach Kige with a 3