Elvis Merzlikins took the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars for a ride on Monday night. Unfortunately for Stars fans, it was a bumpy ride that showed magnificent flashes of what a top young goaltender looks like. If only Dallas had one of those. Regardless of the goaltending situation in Dallas, the Stars fell absolutely and utterly flat in what was easily the most embarrassing game of the young NHL season. Dropping their only road trip to Columbus with a final score of 4-1.
The stat sheet shows a much more even tilt, assuming you don’t look at the final score. Head coach Rick Bowness would skate a completely shifted group of lines and have everyone scratching their heads as the clock ticked down to all zeroes. Bones would release an absolutely scathing rant on the boys in victory green in a timeout called during the 2nd period of Monday night’s ass-whipping. That was the most entertaining moment of Monday night’s display.
Monday night’s game in Columbus, on top of a team who still has not won in regulation added on top of a frustration previous season, boils down to one question. Who is to blame?
As previously stated, Bones has been juggling lines essentially since day one of him taking over the head coaching position in an interim role. It’s a move that has left Stars fans scratching their head constantly. Splitting up the line of Benn, Seguin, and Radulov infuriated fans. Then it didn’t. (We are a fickle fan base but sometimes loveable.) On Monday night it sure felt like shuffling the lines was all for not. Simply put, Bones is an easy target to blame. He is the oldest coach of the oldest team in the NHL. Wait, maybe that has something to do with it?
The Stars are in fact the oldest team in the NHL. One has to wonder if this “Age before beauty” shtick has placed the Stars in an awkward position of being the 35+ beer league team in a league full of A-League whipper-snappers. Your cornerstones are a captain that is being shifted from winger to center because he isn’t producing enough. The guy that scored the only goal on Monday (Tyler Seguin) looks okay but you are tied to him until 2026-2027 in one of the worst-looking contracts in the league compared to his production. You invested in a goalie that you knew had lingering injury issues, and now sits firmly on LTIR. Who knows if we will ever see Ben Bishop play hockey again?
The Stars have not been quiet about their “win now” mentality. They know just as well as any semi-intelligent hockey fan knows, they have a small Stanley Cup window to wiggle through before it slams completely shut. Games like Monday nights thrashing made that window opening feel a hell of a lot smaller. Once again the Stars find themselves being unable to have that one impressive offensive blowout that propels teams into a winning streak. Goals are hard to come by in what feels like a sick and twisted NHL version of the movie Groundhog Day. Y’all got any of that offense? *Insert Chapelle Show meme*
At the end of it all, someone will take the blame. Jim Nill, Bones, Jamie Benn, Braden Holtby, or Jerry Jones. Somehow.
Monday night in Columbus the Dallas Stars can only blame themselves. The real test lies ahead. What are they going to do about it?