Game Review – 10/29/08 (DAL vs MIN)

by Chelsea

Game:

For some reason, my brain keeps mixing up “Minnesota” and “Mittens”, which led to this review almost being “DAL vs MIT”. Pretty smooth, I know.

Last night, our Dallas Stars hit the ice at 7:30 to go up against the Minnesota Wild, a team who entered the match with a freaky 24/24 PK and a 6-0-1 record. It was the first game against ex-Star Antti “Mittens” Miettinen, who left Dallas as a free agent and was signed by the Wild. Upping the stakes further, it was the first season start for backup goalie Tobias Stephan.

I’ll admit to being nervous for Stephan’s sake, because we love Baby T and were worried that our struggling defense would make him look bad. As exciting as it was to get to see him start, it meant benching Marty Turco, which was very sad.

Steve Ott was back again, which had everyone from the fans to the team to the management absolutely thrilled. No so fun were the absences of Joel Lundqvist (newly out with a shoulder injury), Doug Janik (still having eye problems), Jere Lehtinen (still struggling with groin problem), and Sergei Zubov (won’t be off IR until Nov 7).

The starting line was Morrow-Ribeiro-Eriksson. The starting defense pairing was Grossman-Robidas.

The game itself kicked off unexpectedly quick, especially for the usually slow-starting Stars, when Brenden Morrow scored at 19:47 in the first period. It was the kind of smooth move we’d gotten used to from Mike Ribeiro last season; he won the opening faceoff, kept it deep in the offensive zone, and a few seconds later slid it very nicely to Morrow for a one-timer over Minnesota goalie Nicklas Backstrom’s shoulder. Loui Eriksson got the second assist.

Morrow said today on The Ticket’s BaD radio that 13 seconds is the quickest goal he’s ever scored.

The following five minutes of gameplay was impressive, with Stars defense playing a much tighter game in front of Stephan, who was there to make a few equally impressive stops when the puck did slip through.

It wasn’t until Ott, who’d prove to be the night’s fire starter, tripped up James Sheppard and got a two minute penalty that the Wild were able to churn up some real offense. The Stars PK struggled a little, allowing Marc-Andre Bergeron to escape unimpeded to Stephan’s left. With lots of free space, Burgeron sent a nasty, powerful slap shot past Stephan and into the net to tie the game at 1-1. Assists went to Eric Belanger and Kim Johnsson.

The rest of the first period, well, the Stars basically owned the Wild. Minnesota got one last shot on goal on Stephan, but then the Neal-Modano-Crombeen line came out and proceeded to wipe the ice with them. Crombeen got a shot off, Neal got a shot off, Neal hit someone, Robidas hit Miettinen (aww), and Bergeron got a minor penalty for interference on Crombeen.

The Wild, with PK-confidence practically dripping off them, killed that penalty well. I will say, though, that I thought we’d score in the first minute. The puck did not get dumped one time during the first half, and wasn’t sent back into our defensive zone until our PP did a shift change.

Though Dallas didn’t manage to score on their first power play, they did use that momentum well. When the Ott-Richards-Avery line came out, they were sparking with just the energy you’d expect from an Ott-Avery combination.

To be honest, I’d have thought this next goal would be reviewed. It was a mess in the crease, and even seeing the replay fifty times, I’m not entirely convinced that it was good. The officials, or at least the ones that call goals, were apparently a little Stars-biased last night.

At 12:45 in the first, Ott very much made up for his stupid penalty by driving the puck very hard to the net. Really Richards actually got a positive “Really?” from us when he passed the puck between Backstrom’s legs through the crease to Ott. Backstrom went backwards, Ott went forwards, Wild defense scrambled, and somewhere in that the goal light went on. Sean Avery got the second assist.

Some frustrated, angry Minnesota defense pushed Ott over right afterwards, who celebrated laying on his back. Richards skated over and congratulatory-hugged him before he even had a chance to get upright. Perhaps the first actual evidence of personality we’d seen from Richards so far, and I mean that nicely.

Also during this mess, Fistric took a puck to the chest and got his ribs bruised/had to be helped off the ice. He returned quickly, though, and is alright.

The second piece of evidence came only a few minutes later. It was bundled with a whole bunch of other surprises, like Mark Fistric keeping the puck in the zone and Richards still playing exceptionally well.  At 15:39, Fistric got the puck from Krys Barch and had his shot blocked, which ricocheted to Richards. Richards got a wrist shot off in past Backstrom for the game winning goal.

The first ended with a big hit on Ott, a couple shots fired at both goalies, and a breakaway attempt by Mike Ribeiro that was stopped by Backstrom.

The first intermission brought back “What Would Stu Do?”, except it was “What Would Coach Stu Do?” and it was infinitely awesome. Apparently, if his house was haunted, Stuuuuu! would get his “Ghostbusters” on and take care of it himself. Aw, Stu.

Second period was less in our favor, but still strong. The Wild pulled their goaltender and replaced him with Josh Harding.

Because I’m running out of time, the final two periods, summarized very quickly:

  • Craig Weller hit Mike Modano. Now we hate him.
  • Bergeron tripped Sean Avery and got called on it. We didn’t score.
  • Miettinen hit Morrow, showing a surprising amount of bravery.
  • Wild got another penalty when Nick Shultz hooked Crombeen.
  • Sean Avery surprised us by sweeping into the offensive zone, dropping a pass very nicely to Matt Niskanen, who scored on with four seconds left on the PP, thus breaking the Wild’s perfect PK.
  • Craig Weller, acting even more like a caveman, got himself an “Abuse of officials” penalty.
  • We didn’t score.
  • Mikko Koivu nearly got a shorthanded goal, but was stopped by Stephan.
  • Robidas got himself (surprise!) a hooking penalty.
  • They didn’t score.
  • Andrew Brunette got a big shot off on Stephan, who masterfully caught it in his glove and tumbled backwards. Everyone scrambled to find the puck, but Baby T had closed off that chance. Hah!
  • Second intermission had more people dressed as beer.
  • Mike Modano took a 2 minutes in the box for hooking.
  • Fistric got in Stephan’s way and the Wild deflected a puck off his skate for their second and last goal.
  • Modano smacked someone in the head. Robidas practically tackled that someone to keep him from retaliating.
  • Sean Avery had some nice moves.
  • Modano finished the game in the box for another hooking.
  • Morrow finished the game in the back, getting his lip stitched up after taking a puck to the mouth. Apparently he is alright, but his lip hurts and they may have to remove a few teeth. However, he wouldn’t mind, because those teeth are crooked anyway.
  • Ott closed out the game by shoving Mittens into the boards. I’d like to think it was his way of saying “Hey, good game ol’ buddy!”

So 4-2 win for us. Stephan rocked, leaving with a .905 sv% for the game. Wouldn’t mind seeing Stephan in goal again this weekend, but also would like to see Turco back.

Notes:

  • Three game stars, in order: Brad Richards, Tobias Stephan, Steve Ott
  • If there is one thing you can count on Richards for, its not to totally tank on faceoffs. He won 12 of 19.
  • The win was an NHL first for Stephan, whose last and only other NHL start was against Chicago, where he stopped 38 in 40 shots but still did not get a win.
  • Every single Stars player left with even or positive +/-
  • Stephane Robidas led in shifts and TOI, with 26 and 25 respectively.
  • The Morrow-Ribeiro-Eriksson line played over 20 minutes, more than most defensemen
  • Steve Ott led in hits, with 5.
  • Brenden Morrow led in shots, with 6.
  • Conclusion: If we can play this weekend like we played last night, I think we’ll be solid. Just don’t ever invite the Stars anywhere – they show up a month late.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: three for good defense; +3
Stephane Robidas: two for good defense and one for backing up Mo; +3
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal and two for good defense; +5
Mike Modano: one for bopping that guy on the head; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal, one for style, one for hustle, and two for the puck in the mouth; +7
Krys Barch: two for the assist; +2
Sean Avery: two for each assist and two for style; +6
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for his many almost goals; +3
Mark Fistric: two for the assist, one for the poke check, one for actually hitting people, four for taking a puck to the chest, and minus-one for putting his butt in Stephan’s face during our PK; +7
Steve Ott: three for the goal, one for style, two for the energy, and two for looking extremely happy while chirping at the other team; +8
Tobias Stephan: three for being awesome and not allowing any EH goals, two for the pretty glove saves, and one because he fell over and still managed to play the puck; +6
Marty Turco: one for being a good sport and giving Baby T a huge smile post-game; +1
Philippe Boucher: three for good defense; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for style; +3
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for style; +6

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2 Comments to “Game Review – 10/29/08 (DAL vs MIN)”

  1. Perhaps the first actual evidence of personality we’d seen from Richards so far, and I mean that nicely.

    He’s always seemed like a “slow to warm up” kind of guy. But homeboy can play when he’s comfortable. I wish the Dallas coach would stop screwing with the lines so much. I know he’s trying to find the right fit, but some consistency is needed, too. B-Rad is a guy who played with the same player for nearly half of his life, literally. Now in Dallas, he doesn’t have the same linemate for more than a game at a time. No wonder he looks lost sometimes.

  2. It is nice to see him playing to the potential that comes with that big price tag. I’ll admit that Richie’s starting to look a lot more like a Dallas Star and less like just another body on the ice. Off the ice, though.. he needs a little more humor and a lot more hair. Hopefully he’ll click more with the team as time goes on. 🙂

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