10 goals. 16 assists. A combined +44. Eight players with a multi-point night. A perfect penalty kill. A sound defensive performance. A raucous crowd. A night to remember.
That was the scene less than 48 hours ago at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena after a 10-1 shellacking dolled out to the first place Rapid City Rush by your Kansas City Mavericks. Everything clicked. Everything went well and according to plan. The Mavs were dynamic offensively, as tight as a snare drum defensively, physical, fast, and composed. Everything that we thought this team could be came together in one near-perfect performance. What makes it even more impressive is that they did all of that without four of their top goal scorers (Rocco Carzo, Michael Parks, Jack Walker, and Mitch Hults) finding twine. The only blemish was a howitzer blast from Rapid City’s Peter Quenneville, but that dude has a rocket launcher attached to his stick blade, so that will happen.
That euphoric wave from Saturday still lingers. We hadn’t seen a dominant performance like that in a long time. That’s not to say that the Mavericks have been dominant in a long time, they just haven’t been THAT dominant, especially against a team of that caliber. Every team gets boatraced from time to time. It happens in hockey. I don’t want to rain on the parade because it was a sight to see, but it’s important to keep a few things in perspective here.
It was a recipe for disaster for the Rush. They were at the end of a long road trip, having played some grueling and physical games in two of the three previous nights against Wichita and Tulsa. The Mavs had the luxury of sleeping in their own beds and having three nights off leading up to Saturday. Rest helps. Not having to travel helps. These may not be the primary reasons the Mavs molly-whopped Rapid City on Saturday night, but they certainly play a factor. The Mavericks were also due for an offensive explosion. We all know the talent that this team has on the offensive side of the puck, and goals had been hard to come by in the last couple of weeks. The Mavs have had their chances but weren’t finishing. We all knew that if they could just finish a handful of those opportunities, then they would be scoring at the level of expectation. We just didn’t expect it all to come out in one showing, like it did Saturday night.
Here is where I will express some caution. It’s easy to be on cloud nine following a 10-1 barrage against the team atop the division. It’s easy to think that this momentum will be carried over to the Tuesday morning matchup with the Allen Americans. That being said, consistency has been this team’s worst enemy so far this season. Every single one of us has been clamoring for a better defensive effort, and they have shown that. Every single one of us has been clamoring for better special teams play, and they have improved quite a bit. Every single one of us has been clamoring for the offense to get back on track, and that question was emphatically answered Saturday night. What we haven’t seen yet is consistency. JSD preached about consistently after the win against the Rush. He knows that if this team goes out on Tuesday and lays an egg, then Saturday night is all for naught. As fun as that was to witness and be a part of, it means nothing if this team can’t continue to play at a high level more often than not. To give them their due credit, they have started to show some flashes of that much-desired consistency. Despite losing to Wichita last week, and dropping a tough one against Indy in overtime, the Mavs have earned seven of 10 possible points in their last five games. That is performing at a clip that will get them to where they want to be, as long as they continue to do so.
So, as we prepare for the annual Kids’ Day Game on Tuesday (faceoff is at 10:35am, Mavs Insiders Pregame Show at 9:30am), it’s important to re-focus. Yes, Saturday night was awesome and deserves to be talked about. However, I think we all know that at 10-1 performance is one that just doesn’t happen very often, at least in regards to the final score. What can be repeated though is the effort, the work, the grind, the hustle, and more importantly, the dedication to the system. Saturday night has been and should be celebrated, but the cynic in me tries to remind myself that Saturday night was just a glimpse of what this team could and should be. It is a glimpse of how dynamic the Mavs can be for 60 minutes night in and night out if they continue to dedicate themselves to the gameplan that starts and ends with sound defensive hockey. Sure, a 10-goal performance is a celebration of offensive prowess, but don’t kid yourselves. Many of those offensive opportunities came to be because of the work in the defensive end and neutral zone. The Mavs have made an effort to clean up the mess on the defensive side of the puck and the proof is in the pudding. Now, consistency is the next thing on the list.