The Dallas Stars are turning into must-see TV these days — but mostly for what’s happening off the ice.
In another miserable loss — this time to the lowly Los Angeles Kings — forward Alexander Radulov found himself benched for half of the first period. The curious thing about this one is that Radulov wasn’t one of the stars called out by CEO Jim Lites in his epic rant last month, and the Russian has actually been the Stars’ most consistent performer from the start of the season until now. Only once has he gone three games in a row without a point.
Asked about the benching after the game, Radulov didn’t have a problem with it.
“I got benched,” Radulov told the media after the game. “It was the right decision by coach. I wasn’t playing good and I talked back with Monty and he basically sit me until the end of the period. It’s the right decision and I can’t do that. It’s been an issue in my career, but I got to learn from it. I got to be better. Try to not make those mistakes again.”
Though the end of game shot totals were 30-19 in Dallas’ favour, it’d be misleading to determine they dominated. Nineteen of those 30 shots came in the third period when they were trailing 2-0 and the Kings fell back into a defensive shell. Los Angeles had the advantage in shots and the teams were even in scoring chances through the first two periods.
Radulov’s benching was for only half a period. He still ended the game with 19:09 of ice time.
The Stars’ scoring troubles are well documented. When together, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov are a dangerous top line but the team has little secondary scoring to support them. It’s the primary reason why the Stars haven’t been able to pull away from the other wild card teams in the standings.
In eight January games Dallas has just 14 goals and in six of those games they scored one or less in regulation.
“When you’re struggling to score goals it’s hard to do it with a player of that caliber,” head coach Jim Montgomery said of the benching.
Last week Montgomery voiced his frustration over not being able to change the “culture of mediocrity” surrounding a team that can come out and look great one night (as they did in a 2-0 loss to the Lightning on Tuesday) and listless the next. Dallas plays one more game Saturday at home against Winnipeg before going on their bye week in the lead up to all-star weekend. This surely won’t be the final act in an unfolding drama.
These are the days of our lives.