Who would have thought Andrew Raycroft would get Dallas’ first shutout this season?
Stephane Robidas: +2 for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: +1 for hitting more this season but -1 for not being able to hit the net; +0
Trevor Daley: +3 for the goal; +3
Brenden Morrow: +3 for the goal; +3
Jamie Benn: +2 for the assist and +1 because it was completely awesome; +3
Adam Burish: +1 for winning more faceoffs than Wandell & Petersen combined; +1
James Neal: +3 for the goal and +1 for having a very impressive 7 takeaways (the Sabres had a total of 6 takeaways); +4
Loui Eriksson: +2 for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: +3 for the goal; +3
Andrew Raycroft: +1 for being an awesome backup and +2 for the shutout; +3
Mike Ribeiro: +2 for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: +2 for each assist; +4
October 21, 2010 @ FLA
Nicklas Grossman: +2 for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: +2 for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: +2 for the assist: +2
Jamie Benn: +2 for each assist and +1 for coming back with a bang; +7
Adam Burish: +2 for sticking up for Ribeiro by fighting Wideman and +1 for doing such a good job of it; +3
James Neal: +3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: +2 for the assist: +2
Tom Wandell: +3 for each goal; +6
Steve Ott: +3 for the goal; +3
Kari Lehtonen: +2 for a good game; +2
Karlis Skrastins: +2 for the assist: +2
October 23, 2010 vs. NSH
Nicklas Grossman: +1 for leading the team with 8 hits; +1
Toby Petersen: -1 for consistent faceoff fail; -1
Tom Wandell: see Petersen, Toby; -1
Kari Lehtonen: +1 for a solid outing but -1 for the game-winning gaffe; +0
October 26, 2010 vs. ANA
Stephane Robidas: -1 for the penalty that put the Stars down a man for five minutes but +1 because it wasn’t really his fault; +0
Toby Petersen: +2 for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: +3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: +3 for the goal and +1 for being the only one on his line that showed up; +4
Brandon Segal: +2 for the assist: +2
Mike Ribeiro: +2 for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: +2 for the assist but -1 for losing 3x as many faceoffs as he won; +1
October 28, 2010 vs. LAK
Matt Niskanen: +1 for tying for the team lead in hits (what?) with 6; +1
Brenden Morrow: -1 for being uninspiring all night; -1
Jamie Benn: -2 for that team-worst -3 but +1 because Crow should know by now that he doesn’t work on a line with Ribeiro and Morrow; -1
Toby Petersen: +1 for centering the only line that didn’t suck; +1
James Neal: +2 for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: +2 for the assist and +1 for an overall solid game; +3
Loui Eriksson: +2 for the assist; +2
Brandon Segal: +3 for the goal and +1 for an overall solid game; +4
Steve Ott: +2 for the assist, +1 for tying for the team lead in hits with 6, but -2 for that team-worst -3; +1
Andrew Raycroft: +1 for filling in nicely for Lehtonen; +1
Kari Lehtonen: -2 for a completely unspectacular game; -2
Philip Larsen: +2 for the assist, +2 for doing more in one game than some Stars D have managed all season, but -1 for a few rookie brainfarts; +3
Brad Richards: +3 for the goal; +3
Now… I am not usually this harsh, but penalty killing that awful is going to result in some minuses.
Nicklas Grossman: -1 for every power play goal against he was on the ice for; -3
Stephane Robidas: +2 for the assist, +1 for leading the team in plus/minus with a +3, but -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; +2
Trevor Daley: -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; -3
Brenden Morrow: +3 for the goal, +2 for the assist, and +1 for leading the team in plus/minus with a +3; +6
Adam Burish: +3 for the goal but -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; +1
Toby Petersen: +3 for the goal but -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; +1
James Neal: +3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; -1
Tom Wandell: -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; -1
Karlis Skrastins: -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; -1
Mike Ribeiro: +2 for each assist, +1 for winning 63% (hee) of his faceoffs, but -1 for every PPGA he was on the ice for; +4
Brad Richards: +2 for the assist but -1 for doing basically nothing with over seven minutes of power play time; +1
Welcome back to the Round Up. This week, there’s a lot of focus on stats at THN and TSN, and ESPN rates based on season predictions in addition to play so far.
Actual rank: 8 pts, good for 1st in Pacific, 2nd in West, 5th in league.
Record: 4-1-0. L10: 4-1-0.
ESPN by Pierre LeBrun (Oct 18)
….Stars: 5 this week; 3 last week. “OK, OK … I can’t totally ignore early-season perfection. Brad Richards (UFA July 1) has been on fire, and so has goalie Kari Lehtonen, who is the masked man GM Joe Nieuwendyk is gambling on to turn around the fortunes of this franchise.”
….Of Note: Chicago at 8 this week; 22 last week. “Two weekend victories and Hawks fans can step off the ledge. Two weekend wins by Marty Turco, no less, I might add. The veteran netminder was terrific in both victories.”
….My Thoughts: Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way. Turco is starting to play better without us, and we’re already playing better without him. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, good! Glad we’re doing better without him because I spent all last season wishing he would go away. But on the other hand, why does he have to be playing well too? It’s like a breakup. You want to be the one moving on while the other person flounders around without you. Or maybe that’s just me… In any case, I’m happy to see that we’re still at 5th in this week’s ESPN rankings, because LeBrun stated in his intro that he’s ranking teams this week based on his projects “for the rest of the season, too. So no, the Leafs and Stars will not be ranked 1-2.” Fair enough. If that’s his criteria, I am MORE than happy with 5th. That puts us smack in the middle of the playoffs. Just for fun, let’s see how those playoffs would shake out if the league really ends up in the order LeBrun has it in this week.
….Taking into account division leader seeding, the first round in the East would look like this: Capitals (1) vs Thrashers (8); Maple Leafs (2) vs Penguins (7); Flyers (3) vs Lightning (6); Bruins (4) vs Canadiens (5). Some good match-ups there. I’d be interested to see Flyers vs Lightning especially, and the Habs would have a chance to redeem themselves from their first-round loss to the Bruins last year. Then in the West, you would have: Red Wings (1) vs Avalanche (8); Kings (2) vs Sharks (7); Blackhawks (3) vs Canucks (6); Predators (4) vs Stars (5). Kings vs Sharks would be fun, and serve to eliminate a Pacific team right off the bat, like last year with Sharks vs Ducks. I would be okay with facing the Preds in the first round. We were 2-1-1 against them last year and 2-2-0 against them in 08-09.
….This is a pretty useless exercise since there is a looooonnnnggg season still ahead of us and chances are very, very slim that the playoffs will look like this at all. But if anything, it will be interesting to look back and see who’s still on top.
TSN by Scott Cullen (Oct 18)
….Stars: 1 this week; N/A last week. “Such is the dominance of the Stars through four games: while all four games have been wins, two were via shootout and one in overtime, so while it’s a strong start for the Stars, it cannot be overstated how premature these rankings are at this stage of the season. Key Injuries: LW Jamie Benn (concussion).”
….Of Note: Florida at 6 this week; N/A last week. “Such is the nature of the early rankings, the Panthers have recorded shutout wins in half of their games, allowing a total of five goals against in four games. As great as Tomas Vokoun (1.26 GAA, .952 SV%) is, 40 shutouts this season is a longshot. Key Injuries: None.”
….My Thoughts: This is TSN’s first power ranking of the season, and the Stars are first. It’s still weird to me that we were the last unbeaten team in the league (Toronto lost their fifth game about an hour before we did), and I appreciate that we’re getting credit for it around the league. However, Cullen makes a good point – only one of our four wins to start the season was in regulation. We still found ways to win in overtime and the shootout, but I’d really love to stop giving 75% of our opponents an OT point. So how much does our strong start really mean? It’s hard to say. On the one hand, there have been some huge positives in the first five games. I can’t say enough about how solid and calm Lehtonen has been in net so far. The top lines are churning out points like it’s their job (oh, wait…), and the league’s top five in plus-minus are all Stars. Niskanen is actually laying hits on people, Burish has a great energy about him, and overall everyone seems to have a great attitude. But. There’s always one of those, isn’t there? But we can’t overlook the fact that we are dead last in the league with our disastrous PK. Chels put up a great post about how that could improve, but unfortunately for all involved, nobody important cares what we think.
….Another point of concern is that we’re allowing an average of 3.00 goals against per game. That isn’t worst in the league, but it’s close at 21st. Best in the league? The Panthers, who we play tomorrow night, at 1.25 goals against per game. I guess you could consider it lucky that we’re at the top of the league in goals FOR per game (at 3.60), but they’re right behind us with 3.00 G/G. That really doesn’t balance out in our favor. In order to beat them, we’re going to have to take FAR fewer penalties and allow far fewer goals against. One way to do that might be to take a long, hard look at our shots against per game versus shots for per game, a ratio that averages out to 38.0 : 21.8 (second to last and last in the league). If you isolate those stats, it’s amazing that we’re winning hockey games. If there are solutions to these problems, they need to be found quickly.
THN by Adam Proteau (Oct 20)
….Stars: 5 this week; 5 last week. “Only Anaheim averages more shots allowed than Stars’ 38.0″
….Of Note: New Jersey at 29 this week; 29 last week. “Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner a combined minus-18.”
….My Thoughts: Oh look, I’m not the only one calling out the Stars on how many shots per game they’re allowing. I don’t even know what else to say about this, other than it needs to change. As far as stats go, I’m just glad not to be a Devils fan. They’ve had a rough start to the season – 1-4-1 – and three of their top players are a combined -18. They aren’t the only ones struggling – even without them, the rest of the team combined is -29. Only four players are pluses (maxing out at +3), four are even, and the rest are at least -1. In contrast, only five Stars are negatives (with -3 being the worst), five are even, and the rest are at least +4. Of course, stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do provide some helpful details. I’d talk more about this, but quite frankly I’m already sick of analyzing numbers. Let’s just hope the Stars can improve a few areas of their game so we don’t have to hear about these things all season.
So there you have it, everyone. Do you agree or disagree with these rankings?
What happened to the Dallas Stars’ penalty kill?
During the preseason, they had absolutely no problems killing off penalties. Then we hit the regular season and they start coughing up power play goals to the other team left and right. What happened?
In five games, they’ve already allowed 10 power play goals (on 25 attempts), with 8 of those goals coming in the three road games so far. Four of the goals happened Monday in Tampa Bay. Ouch. That’s a very, very leaky ship they’re trying to sail.
I spent some time after the game staring at numbers. What I found out is that two of the Stars’ leading penalty killers in preseason have not played a second of shorthanded time in the regular season.
One of them is Severin Blindenbacher, who played over 10 minutes in the three of the four games I focused on without seeing a single power play goal against. In two of those games, he was part of the leading defensive pair on the PK that night, with either Fistric or Grossman, which saw a combined 13 penalties against with 0 PPGA. He is now playing for the Texas Stars in the AHL.
The other is Aaron Gagnon, recently called up from the Texas Stars. He played mostly with Toby Petersen on the penalty kill during the preseason and faced over 12 minutes total in the four games. The Dallas Stars killed off 25 of 27 penalties in those games, and Gagnon was not on the ice for either of the two goals they allowed.
Of course, you’d want those two guys to have more NHL experience before you throw them out there shorthanded. That said, it would be nice to see the Stars give Gagnon a shift or two with Petersen and see if they can recreate some of the success they had in preseason against real NHL rosters.
Another player that had some success killing penalties in preseason was Brian Sutherby. He had limited ice time but was not out for a single power play goal against. However, he has only been given 4:36 SH TOI in the regular season despite having only been on the ice for one PPGA, which came during the Detroit game. While that was partially his fault, you can’t overlook the fact that he had almost 2 minutes on the PK Monday and was one of two players who logged over a minute of SH time and did not get scored on. The other player was Steve Ott.
Am I saying Sutherby should be playing big minutes killing penalties? Not at all. Could he take a few shifts from a player like Brenden Morrow who is an adequate penalty killer but may have better ways to spend that ice time? Sure.
This brings me to my main point, which is that it is not really the forwards I have a problem with as far as personnel goes. It is more important to find the right combination of guys like Sutherby, Burish, and Wandell, who have so far been fairly interchangeable when it comes to successfully killing penalties, than it is to figure out who is better. For the defensemen, however, there is a big glaring issue that I see.
Trevor Daley has managed to be on the ice for HALF of the power play goals against (and is leading the team in that regard). To put that into perspective, he allows a goal for approximately every 3:30 he plays shorthanded, or once per game. He is horribly ineffective, and yet is second only to Karlis Skrastins for SH TOI.
There is no reason that I can see not to give some of his penalty killing time to Mark Fistric or Matt Niskanen. At least they don’t look completely startled every single time the puck comes at them. How many times have we already seen Daley do something completely boneheaded that cost the Stars on the scoreboard? He has no awareness of himself in relation to Lehtonen, as evidenced by all the screening, skating into, and deflecting pucks past that he’s already displayed this season.
Moving away from the “who” to the “what” problem, that seems pretty simple. For some reason, the Stars have been completely unable to get the puck ALL the way out of their zone on the penalty kill. One of them will pick it up down low and try to clear it, only to have it caught by the other team and tossed right back in. It doesn’t seem to matter much how they try to get it out. Down the middle? Bad giveaway. Along the boards? Caught at the point, if not before. Carry it out? Swarmed and had it stolen.
Someone needs to sit down and come up with a gameplan for getting the puck out of the zone on the first try. Maybe go over video of the Capitals, who have successfully killed off 21 of 21 penalties. Or maybe just pay very close attention Thursday when they take on the Panthers, who have only taken 8 penalties and have killed off all of them.
October 14, 2010 vs DET
The Dallas Stars organization: -10 for that meh “tribute” to Mike Modano. The Flyers put together a montage of all of Simon Gagne’s biggest goals for his first return to Philly, but the best you could do for the face of your franchise was stick a camera on him with the caption “Thank you, Mike”?
The Dallas Stars fans: +15 for properly honoring Mo with a long and loud standing ovation.
Nicklas Grossman: +1 for leading the team with seven hits; +1
Matt Niskanen: +2 for the assist and +1 for the surprisingly high hit count (five); +3
Trevor Daley: +2 for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: +3 for the goal; +3
Toby Petersen: -1 for losing more faceoffs than Krys Barch did in the same amount of tries; -1
James Neal: +3 for the goal, +2 for the assist, but -1 for the penalties; +4
Loui Eriksson: +3 for the goal; +3
Mark Fistric: +1 for squashing a certain whiny Swedish bug; +1
Steve Ott: +1 for winning 11/16 faceoffs; +1
Kari Lehtonen: .962 save percentage; +3
Mike Ribeiro: +2 for each assist; +4
Brad Richards: +3 for the goal and +2 for each assist, but -1 for kind of stinking at the dot with only 2/8 faceoffs won; +6
October 16, 2010 vs STL
Nicklas Grossman: +1 for leading with seven hits again, +2 warrior points for getting a skate to the face and finishing his shift anyway, but -2 for a pair of stupid penalties; +1
Trevor Daley: +1 for leading with five blocked shots; +1
Brenden Morrow: +1 for being fiesty-Captain; +1
Adam Burish: +2 for nice PK work, including a bit of a sell to draw a call during the Grossman 4-minute penalty; +2
James Neal: +3 for the goal, +2 for the assist, and +1 for the hard work he put in to get those points; +6
Loui Eriksson: +3 for the goal, +2 for the assist, +1 for displaying impressive hockey smarts, and +1 for the shootout goal; +7
Tom Wandell: -1 for having yet to do much of anything aside from losing a lot of faceoffs; -1
Kari Lehtonen: +3 for stopping 41 of 43 shots and +1 for turning into a brick wall after the first period; +4
Mike Ribeiro: +1 for the physical play, +1 for the shootout goal, and +1 for being impossibly shifty; +3
Brad Richards: +2 for each assist and +1 for the shootout goal; +5
Did you see that?! The Stars kicked ass last night (pardon my hockey language)! They only managed to get 15 shots on goal, but four of them connected with net. The top lines delivered like they should. The checking line played hard. The fourth line was – well, the fourth line. Lehtonen was solid. The penalty kill actually managed to kill penalties. The powerplay got the game rolling with an almost immediate goal. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the boys really earned that third win, and looked like a real NHL team doing it. I don’t have time to review the whole game today, but we’ll be back later with our +/-. For now I want to touch on a few things…
The Stars had a couple big announcements today. First, in another wise personnel move from GM Joe, the Stars added Gary Roberts as a player development consultant. You might recognize the name. Roberts is the man responsible for Neal’s added bulk this season, and he transformed Steven Stamkos from a bench-warmer into a 50-goal scorer. According to the official press release (here), “Roberts will be working with the Stars’ young players throughout the club’s hockey system, at both the NHL and developmental levels, in tandem with the club’s strength and conditioning team, coaches and trainers.” I can’t wait to see what he can do here, especially with Grossman, Fistric, and Wandell. I’m fully behind this decision although I’m a little surprised we can afford to add another person to our payroll.
The other big news today is that Fabian Brunnstrom has been placed on waivers, and they don’t seem to really care whether he’s picked up by another team or he plays in the AHL all season. According to Heika, Niewendyk attempted to trade Bunny but there were no takers; however, he goes on to quote Neiwendyk as saying, “I know there are some teams interested in him. Whether they claim him or not, I don’t know.” So I guess we can read between the lines there a bit and figure that there are some teams interested, but not interested enough to give up anything to have him. So it will be interesting to see if anyone makes a move to get him now. If not, the plan seems to be for him to stay in Austin for the majority of the season. I appreciate that – he really needs to play every night – but I do wonder why we resigned him only to try to trade him and then, when that didn’t work, send him to the AHL. If we didn’t want him, why didn’t we just let him go?
Finally, THN updated their Hart Trophy Watch today. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a running feature where Ken Campbell lists the top 10 contenders for the Hart Trophy at a given time, plus a few on the bubble. Richie made the list at #4 this week, with Campbell noting, “The Stars have shocked the hockey world by getting off to a 3-0-0 start, thanks in large part to Richards. After a couple of years of floundering, Richards is busting his way back into star status.” Maybe now people will stop saying how overpaid he is. I know $7.8 million is a lot of money, but where would we be without him? He has 7 points in three games, which puts him on pace for 191 points this season. Obviously that isn’t a realistic number and his point production is guaranteed to slow down, but for now he’s tied with Ovechkin for first in the league in points and he’s tied for the lead in both assists (Ribs is there with him, for the record) and plus-minus (with Loui and Robi included in the five-way tie). If you ask me, he’s worth those big bucks.
Hey everyone, welcome back to the weekly Power Ranking Round Up. This is a feature I will be posting once a week, after all the power rankings are released at ESPN, THN, and TSN. Last season this was on Monday or Tuesday so unless the rankings are published on a different day this season, I’m going to stick with Tuesday for my posts. For now, only ESPN has updated their rankings for the start of the season. Normally I would wait to make this post until next week, but their opinion and rank of the Stars is something I want to talk about. So without further ado, let’s kick this off for 2010-11.
Actual rank: 1st in Pacific, 3rd in the West, 7th in the league.
Record: 2-0-0. L10: 2-0-0.
ESPN by Scott Burnside
Stars: 3 this week; 20 last week. “Who knows how long the Stars can stay at this lofty perch, but kudos to coach Marc Crawford for helping his team earn two straight road wins in New Jersey and Long Island out of the gate. Who knows? It may help spur the sale of the team, if nothing else.”
Of Note: Pittsburgh at 27 this week; 7 last week. “A disappointing start at the Consol Energy Center for Pittsburgh after the Penguins dropped back-to-back one-goal games. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has shined at times but looked weak on Montreal’s winning goal Saturday night. Surprising lack of finish for the Pens early on.”
My thoughts: That is not a typo. Burnside really did rank us third in the league this week, only under the Wings (1) and Hurricanes (2). Just let that sink in for a second. I took a few minutes to scan through all my old PRRU posts and the highest anyone has ranked us since I started in February of 2008 was 6th, and that only happened twice at the end of October 2009. We’ve been ranked in the teens or twenties every other time. I guess being one of five teams to start the season with a 2-0-0 record earns us a little bit of respect. In case you were wondering, the other four are Detroit, Carolina, Toronto, and Edmonton. So a few surprises there. There are also a big surprise on the (shorter) list of teams that started out 0-2-0: Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and Ottawa. I mostly find this notable because I can’t stand the Penguins, and I’m enjoying our spot at the top even more because they get to experience life at the bottom for now. However, personal bias aside, it’s a perfect example of one reason I love hockey: every season is truly a new season. Things can change so much between June and October. Who would have ever predicted we would have 2 wins in a back-to-back road trip to start the season? And who would have predicted the Penguins would drop their first game, not only of the season but also in their new stadium, and to a division rival at that? Probably very few people. But that’s how it’s played out, and it’s a lesson that this season is a fresh start and a chance to get back into the winning tradition we’ve been spoiled to have around here.
THN by Adam Proteau
Stars: 4 this week; n/a last week. “Two road wins to start season is great news, but they’ll need to beat good teams before they’re taken seriously”
Of Note: Detroit at 1 this week; n/a last week. “Ageless wonder Nick Lidstrom leads all Wings skaters in average time on ice (24:57)”
My thoughts: Well. Detroit is coming up. If we beat them – which will mean three wins in a row for the first time since 08-09 – will we be taken seriously? Or do we have to beat the Penguins, Hawks, Caps, Sharks, etc as well? Something tells me it’s going to take a huge start this season for people to consider the Stars as contenders for the playoffs. After the last few seasons, we have to prove that our 2-0-0 start is not just a fluke – and it’s not just the media that’s skeptical. The fans are, too. I know I’m nervous about Thursday. Win three in a row? With the third being against Detroit? Eek. Speaking of the dreaded Wings, they have the top spot according to Adam. They have a 2-0-1 record coming into Thursday’s game and have looked pretty on-point so far. Both of their goalies have had pretty good starts – Howard has a .932 sv% in two games and Osgood had a .929 sv% in his one game – and their big names are putting up points early. ll Basically, it’s going to be a good game Thursday night. We’ll be there, applauding Mo’s return and waiting on the edge of our seats for the Stars to give people a reason to take them seriously.
So there we have it. One ranking, one top three spot, one fresh start. If that isn’t a reason for optimism, please find me something that is. That’s it for this week, but if The Hockey News or TSN update their power rankings in the next few days, I’ll update the post to include them. Otherwise, I’ll be back next week. Go Stars!
Update: THN’s rankings are in. I’ve updated the post with them.