DALLAS — This may have been the low point of the Dallas Stars season.
While they’ve had longer losing streaks this season, the back-to-back losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings sandwiched around the All-Star break were no-shows.
On Tuesday the Kings were bigger, better, and most importantly, actually looked like they wanted to play hockey.
The Stars new it. And the players that spoke after Tuesday’s game did their best verbally to own up to the letdown.
“I think every single person in this room, in this building, tonight knew tonight was not a very good hockey game from us,” Ben Bishop said. “You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the snowball. You’ve got to fix it now. We realize it’s two games in a row and it’s not acceptable especially at home. These fans are paying good money to watch us play and that was pretty pathetic.”
“Yeah, it’s disappointing the way we came out,” Dan Hamhuis said. “They were definitely the better team all night. At this time of year we can’t be allowing efforts like that and showing up for games the way we did tonight. If we want to give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs we got to eliminate those type of games.”
Making matters worse, the rest of the Central Division continues to play stellar hockey and most of them gained ground on Dallas Tuesday.
“Tonight not a one single guy among us was going,” Tyler Seguin said. “It’s a let down especially when it’s a new season now, it’s the final push. This is what we’ve fought for all year, we should be really excited for how hard we worked to get ourselves in this position and it took a glance up and all the other teams were winning and I’m sure they probably won, and know we’ve made things a little tough on ourselves.”
Stars coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t in a particularly chatty mood after the game, and asked the media members what the players had said about the game.
At least in that realm, the coach and players were on the same page.
“It’s two games in a row. That’s the concern for us,” Hitchcock said. “The game before the break team came in and checked us hard, we had no response and today same thing. So that’s the concern, how do we respond to getting played hard? And instead of getting excited and digging in we go the other way.”
You could point fingers in any direction in the Stars locker room after the game, and you wouldn’t be too far off. Down the hallway it was a good night for the Kings, who have dug themselves slightly out a hole created by a six-game losing streak and have back-to-back wins with their back-up goalie in net.
“I think the desperation of playing a team ahead of us in the standings really brought the best out of us tonight,” Kings goalie Darcy Kuemper said. “And against that top line, it’s as dangerous as any line in the league, we hardly gave them anything tonight.”
Part of the success against the line of Jamie Benn, Seguin, and Alexander Radulov came with where they had to play.
The Kings dominated possession and shots, and it isn’t a good sign when Benn and Radulov lead the team in blocked shots.
Simply put, the Stars have lost their identity the past two games. It’s not gone for good, they could find it on Thursday, but in a conference where seven teams are separated by three points or less right around the wild card they need to fix the issues rather quickly.