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Gulutzan feeling heat in Dallas

Mar 28, 2012, 1:02 PM EDT

Glen Gulutzan AP

The last two weeks haven’t been easy on Glen Gulutzan.

The Dallas head coach has seen his team lose four of six, fall out of first in the Pacific Division and into a dogfight just to make the playoffs.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News thinks Gulutzan might have issues with his players.

This theory stems from errors Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott made in Monday’s 5-4 loss to Calgary. Ribeiro gave the puck away on Calgary’s second goal (which seemed to be a real momentum-changer) while Ott’s careless tripping penalty led to the game-winning tally.

Here’s what Gulutzan said:

“Those players do play close to the line, but the lines weren’t blurred last night, they made mistakes. Ott’s case, it wasn’t retaliatory, it wasn’t in the heat of the battle, and Ribby’s is what it is. He made a read and it wasn’t there. It was really uncharacteristic, because he knows the game so well.

“I think we’re beating it up a bit. Ribs just doesn’t make those mistakes — probably as soon as it left his stick, he knew. I don’t think that needs to be addressed. Something needs to be addressed if it’s reoccurring. That’s not going to reoccur. I think we have to move past it. We’re still in it, so we just have to be a little more focused.”

Here’s what Gulutzan did:

At the end of the game, Ribeiro played 22:29 and Ott played 20:46. At no point did they seem to miss a shift or get any kind of message that their play was unacceptable. Maybe, Gulutzan screamed between periods. Maybe, he felt the team couldn’t win without Ribeiro and Ott playing a lot. But the bottom line is he has a way to send a message and he’s not using it.

Yes, Eric Nystrom was out of the game with an injury and the Stars were down on their forwards. But if you have to sit Ribeiro to play Jamie Benn or Jake Dowell, then do it. If you have to sit Ott to play Ryan Garbutt, then do it. Not only would the intended players get the message, but so would the entire team.

Another issue Gulutzan’s facing is what to do with Brenden Morrow. The captain and veteran leader has been dropped to the fourth line (Adam Burish has taken his minutes, which speaks volumes) but, as Heika points out, Morrow “has given a lot to his franchise, and probably deserves a little leeway.”

The Morrow issue — and how to handle Ribeiro/Ott — are tough predicaments for a veteran head coach, let alone a rookie like Gulutzan. Will he be able to make the tough decisions to get Dallas into the playoffs?

  1. dallasstars9 - Mar 28, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Hang in there boys! Get the job done and make the playoffs. No one will expect much from this team in the playoffs, so all pressure will be off. Gulutzan should get some notice for coach of the year for the work he has done with a team that everyone had written off at the beginning of the season. Go Stars!

  2. cup0pizza - Mar 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Gulitzan is fine, certainly significantly better than Dave Tippett & Marc Crawford were. As for Morrow, he seems done. Guy has a ton of heart and was the best NHL captain not named Lidstrom for a little bit a few years ago and Dallas fans will always hold him in high regard. I believe that him being relegated to the 4th line is fine…he just can’t consistently pounce after the beating he has taken for this franchise.

  3. elvispocomo - Mar 28, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Wait, so Morrow deserves a bit of a free pass because of what he’s done in the past, but Ott and Ribeiro should have had their minutes cut because of one mistake each? Granted, some bad mistakes, but the whole team needed to be better if they wanted to win any of those 4 in the last 6.

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