Game No. 60: They used to be stars

Hey remember when Dallas was good!?

It wasn’t so long ago that Dallas was pretty close to being considered as good as the Red Wings. It was generally acknowledged that both teams were probably not in the same class as the Canucks, but pretty good. They were at least well in front of the rest of the pack in the Pacific and, indeed, the rest of the Western Conference.

As recently as Jan. 21, they came into Calgary as winners of five straight, with points in seven of their last eight. They were riding high, no doubt on the promise of very probably making the playoffs this season, where last year they were not so successful in this pursuit.

But then things changed, as they so often do in this league. It happened, incidentally, against the Flames. They lost that contest 7-4, and really, they were lucky to make it that close. Three nights following, they went to Vancouver and got it handed to them 7-1. And since then, they’ve won just two (against Edmonton and Chicago, the latter in a shootout) from their last eight. They’re 2-7-1 in their last 10. This is a big problem for a team that once had a comfortable stranglehold on the division crown, and now sits tied with two other teams for second, just three points up on the struggling Kings.

It’s as if everything’s abandoned them at once. Competent defense? Gone. Here’s their goals against in the last 10 games: 7, 7, 1, 4, 6, 3, 3, 3, 2, 4. That’s a total of 40. In 10 games. Not good. Reasonable offense? Evaporated. In those games, they scored 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 4, 1, 1. That’s only 21. When you’re being outscored nearly 2 to 1, there’s a big-time problem and it’s not going to get better any time soon. Brad Richards is out with a mystery ailment, exacerbating the freefall. Kari Lehtonen’s regressing hard as well, losing seven of the games in question as the team in front of him gives up a lot of shots, and he doesn’t make a lot of saves.

It seems rather likely that Calgary, fresh off THAT game against the Avs, can further exploit Dallas’ recent weaknesses.