Good news: Dallas Stars catalyst forward Mike Ribeiro will play in tonight’s Game 3 of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals at 7 p.m. in American Airlines Center.
Bad news: Lose tonight and the Stars might as well line up for the handshake.
Ribeiro getting fined but avoiding suspension for his not-so-subtle two-handed slash of Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood was about the only good news to come out of Games 1 and 2 in Detroit. I know, Osgood clearly agitated him with the butt end of his stick up around his playoff beard and then flopped like an octopus upon absorbing a half-hearted chop to his chest pad, but Ribeiro’s loss of composure and radical retaliation was about as ridiculous as Taco Bell trying to convince us that chicks go to bars with bacon in their purses. (Insert Long John Silvers joke here if you want, but I'm not touching it.)
As if the Stars need some bulletin-board motivation, how ‘bout a little dis from Detroit’s Darren McCarty:
“"Gutless," he said of Ribeiro. “To swing your stick like a baseball bat, not just at anybody but our goalie, that's unacceptable."
The gutless Stars will not only have to be madder than Detroit tonight, but also better.
In Games 1 and 2 -- losses of 4-1 and 2-1 -- there was a pretty noticeable discrepancy between the Red Wings’ skill and Dallas’ will. For the most part, the Stars lost face-offs, chased the puck and fanned on big, missed hits. Against Detroit, the margin for error is minuscule. Score just one goal again in Game 3 and we can all get back to analyzing the Mavericks and getting teased by the Rangers.
Dallas, no doubt, will get its chances. The place should be rockin’ tonight. No, I mean literally rockin'. These dudes will play before the game and during intermissions. To capitalize on the energy and emotion, the Stars have to score early. Early in Game 2 the ominous tone was set when they somehow effed up a 4-on-1 breakaway as Steve Ott shot wide of the net.
Detroit will again be without leading playoff scorer Johan Franzen and Dallas will be the more desperate team. The Stars, who all post-season have been more stubborn and resilient than Hillary Clinton, just have to win. And they will, right? -- Richie Whitt
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