DALLAS -- Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll are both mad as hell about the very public spanking they received from head coach Craig MacTavish.
But they're not miffed at the coach for being banished to the press box Friday night against St. Louis.
Nope. With nobody to blame but themselves for their poor performances this season, both players directed their wrath inward as they climbed the stairs of shame to the Rexall Place catwalk.
"Sure you're embarrassed, and I was angry," said Torres, after learning he and his buddy will be back in the lineup tonight in Dallas. "But the only person I'm embarrassed and angry at is the person I'm looking at in the mirror.
KNOWS THE SCORE
"I'm not pointing fingers. I wouldn't have played me either ... probably a lot earlier in the season, but I got away with it because of the relationship I've had here with Mac.
"I thought he made the right decision. I know what he expects out of me and I don't like disappointing. I'm letting him down and I'm letting a lot of guys in the room down.
"Now I'm just excited to get back and help these guys out."
Torres, with five goals in 29 games, and a 14-game pointless streak already in the books this year, has been told to work on his consistency and to be a little smarter out there.
Stoll, with three goals and a whopping minus-10 next to his name, has to really step his game up.
"I'm not going to disagree with him at all,"said Stoll, 25. "It's up to the coaches to make those calls and he made it. There's a number of things that can be better and I know what those are. I'm sure Raffi knows what those are. Go out and do them."
The two sat side by side in the press box last game, analyzing the play, and themselves.
"We talked about it the whole game," said Stoll. "We probably talked about every single play that was going on - how much time you have in certain situations where maybe you don't think you have. It's a different look from up top there."
MacTavish doesn't like to embarrass veterans like he embarrassed Stoll and Torres, and Dwayne Roloson earlier this season, but there are games to be won and the team can't ride Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and a handful of rookies all season.
"It's not from lack of trying other measures," he said. "There's a whole cycle that you go through with players who aren't playing up to their capability. The black hole at the end is the scratch."
And he had to use it.
"Time's running out," said the coach. "You have to show that sense of determination to get your game going at Game 30. They have to get playing. They're a big part of our team."
Stoll and Torres were supposed to be key ingredients this season. They were supposed to provide consistent second-line scoring, but at times they've struggled to get out of their own way.
"It's a big reason we find ourselves in the situation we're in right now," said MacTavish, adding players need to overachieve, not underachieve, when a team is struggling with injuries. "It's more important that your veterans step up and provide the punch offensively and the leadership."
So we'll see how they respond in the first game back, and in the 51 after that. MacTavish, who'll play them with Patrick Thoresen, is hoping this gives them a little jumpstart.
"I don't know how this is going to affect them but hopefully they work their way out of it," he said. "They're good players, they're good people, but they have to get back and get playing. We need more out of them, it's as simple as that."
They get the message. But they're still mad as hell.
"Yeah, I'm pissed off," said Stoll. "If I wasn't I wouldn't be very human. I probably wouldn't care too much about the game if I wasn't mad. But do I lose respect for my coach for doing that? No. The respect has always been there and always will be."