Archive for November, 2008

November 30, 2008

Modano Hits 1300 Points

by Kristine

With an assist and a goal in the game tonight, Mike Modano has now hit 1300 career points – third only to Sakic and Recchi.

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November 30, 2008

Stars Trade for Hutchinson, Lose Tukonen

by Kristine

The Stars announced today that they have traded prospect Lauri Tukonen in exchange for Tamba Bay minor league defenseman Andrew Hutchinson.

The internets seem confused about this trade. What does Hutchinson bring to our team other than a body on the bench? According to Andrew’s, “Good size and long reach help him defend well, but he can struggle with positioning.” Doesn’t that pretty much sum up our D already? And shouldn’t we be getting somebody who is good with positioning, to fill in one of our team’s many gaps?

Another sore point is that we could’ve had Hutchinson for nothing as recently as Thursday or Friday – he was on waivers up until then. Instead, we waited until today and lost another prospect. Are monkeys running these things? We messed up with Janik way back in the beginning by losing a draft pick for somebody we originally got for free, we gave Crombeen away to St Louis for nothing, and we waited too long to get Hutchinson and end up having to make a trade instead of just picking him up off waivers. It doesn’t seem like the most effective way to build a hockey team, and I question whether or not any of these trades are really going to end up benefitting us. If there is a long-term plan in effect here, I’m not seeing it.

What this seems to come down to is desperation. We might be losing Zubie to injury again, so we need another defensemen in the line-up. That part makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why we keep picking up other team’s rejects. Tampa had Hutchinson in the minors. Sydor was getting zero ice time in Pittsburgh. Parrish had his contract bought out by the Wild. Janik was on waivers for the Hawks when we picked him up the first time. Even way back in summer, Avery became a free agent because – to put it simply – the Rangers didn’t want him on their team enough to resign him. Have any of these players really bought a lot to our team? We’ve lost our voices talking about what Avery does or does not bring to the team, so I won’t get into that here. Parrish has been the most productive of the remaining four; I don’t see the other three becoming vital cogs in the Stars machine, at least this season. The only reason I can think of for why we’re adding people to our team who don’t make a big impact is desperation, a mindset of “we need somebody and we need somebody now, so who can we get ASAP?” This goes right back around to the long-term plan and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be one.

I’m doing my best not to judge Hutchinson without ever even seeing him play. I could be totally wrong about this. It just seems like a waste of time, energy, and prospects, and it’s frustrating to see the Stars Brass running things in a way that seems very haphazard.

November 29, 2008

Game Review – 11/28/08 (DAL vs SJS)

by Chelsea

The Good:

  • James Neal: The 21-year-old winger scored his fourth goal in the five games since he returned from playing with the Manitoba Moose. After outperforming some key veterans, he ought to have sealed his spot on the Stars roster.
  • Loui Eriksson: Netting his 11th of the season, Eriksson is now on a four-game points streak, giving him 6 points in the last five games. He now challenges Mike Ribeiro (19) and Brad Richards (19) for leading the team in points (18) as well as goals.
  • Neal + Eriksson: The five of the team’s last six goals have come from either in this pair. Combined, they have 17 of the team’s 56 goals this season.
  • Tobias Stephan: He came out onto the ice cheered on by the crowd. He stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced during his short time in the third period, for a .909 sv% – not bad for having to clean up that mess against a team like the Sharks. You’d think he’d have earned a full game’s start with that kind of play, but Tippett’s determined to hang his hat on Turco. Nonetheless, we’re still proud of Stephan and his quick glove saves.
  • Stars Promotional Yearbook: Free things and goofy baby pictures are a nice way to avoid thinking about the 6-2 loss you were just handed.

The Bad:

  • Half of our defense: Niskanen with a sloppy turnover. Niskanen and Grossman ending the game with team-worst -2. Zubov possibly injured. Someone needs to step up or this situation will just continue getting worse.
  • Special teams: The PP is 0-21 in the last four games. 1/3 of the Sharks goals were PPG. If the defense and goaltending is going to continue rolling downhill, then someone needs to learn to score on the power play. One of these being bad is hard enough to recover from, but both PK and PP? They can’t count on blind luck every night.
  • Marty Turco: He’s comfy. He’s unmotivated. He’s unfocused. He’s letting in 5 goals on 19 shots. We could probably score on him at this point, blindfolded, one-handed, while eating pie. Why doesn’t he get bench time? It’s worked before, and it will work again. Since when did the Stars become The Marty Turco Project? He’s had every chance to play through this slump and he’s wasted them all. No team can be motivated to win if they can’t count on their goaltender giving them any sort of chance.
  • 6 Sharks Goals: Few things sting like providing your rival with a night of fun stat-boosting.

The Ugly:


SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: minus-one for subpar defense; -1
Stephane Robidas: one for logging the most TOI and still having the best +/- on the team; +1
Matt Niskanen: minus-one for subpar defense; -1
James Neal: three for the goal and one pity point for how sad he looked right after; +4
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Landon Wilson: minus-one for getting yet another stupid penalty; -1
Tobias Stephan: two for trying to clean up Turco’s mess, one for doing such a good job of it, and one for being shockingly fast on that delayed penalty; +4
Marty Turco: minus-three for hitting rock bottom in a 20+ game slump; -3
Mark Parrish: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2

November 27, 2008

Game Review – 11/26/08 (DAL at MIN)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars were in Minnesota to face the Wild for the second time this season. The first we met, backup Tobias Stephan played and was only scored on during the Wild PP in a 4-2 Stars win. That game was a big win, as the Wild had yet to be beaten in regulation and sported an unbeaten PK. Neither of those records escaped unscathed. 

Tonight, the Stars and Wild met again, this time with still-struggling Marty Turco in the pipes. It was a bit of a homecoming for Dallas’ Matt Niskanen, Mark Parrish, and Toby Petersen, who are all Minnesota-born. Niskanen, having been good against the Wild in the past, resumed his spot in exchange for Doug Janik being scratched. 

Game started at 7:00 PM CT.

Scoring nearly opened with a shot from Mikko Koivu that rang off the post. It’d be the first of many unlucky moments for Koivu. 

I was taking notes during this game, and the first one was here, at 3:30. A quote from Razor, “And Niskanen- why not shoot it?” Yes, that’s right, Niskanen got brave with the puck.

The second note was at about 6:00, when Neal caught an airborne puck at a weird angle and managed to pass it to Avery, who… completely didn’t see it until it was behind him and the Wild had it. Erg, Avery.

But, anyway. Scoring actually opened at 8:41, courtesy of James Neal. Brad Richards unintentionally began the play when he shot the puck towards the net and it bounced off the skates of Martin Skoula. He had possibly the two best people to back him up, though; Loui Eriksson grabbed the loose puck, deftly protecting it from James Sheppard long enough to pass it to a net-crashing Neal. Neal’s speedy wrister beat Backstrom and put us on the board. 

This moment was important for many reasons. It was Neal’s first career goal in an away game, good to get that out of the way, and the Stars have a very strong record this season for when they score first (6-2-1). 

However, the Wild came back with a vengeance, destroying the Stars lead in a matter of minutes. 

At 9:49, Eric Belanger scored on a rebound from Brent Burns and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Blame goes partially to Sergei Zubov and Darryl Sydor, who (respectively) wandered out of position and weren’t able to claim the loose puck.

Then, at 12:45, on a Wild power play (can thank Landon Wilson for that one, having gotten an interference minor at 11:05), Owen Nolan broke the newly-made tie. That play was just sloppy all-around, with Turco committing to the wrong shooter and Stephane Robidas unable to cover his mistake. Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen got the assists.   

The official had us all referring to our rule books when, at 13:26, he called a face-off violation penalty on Andrew Brunette. Razor seemed surprised, saying, “It was a new rule a couple years ago and I’ve never seen it called.” Ralph agreed that he’d never seen it called either. 

The power play did not result in a goal, but it had good points from Neal (who I noted as being “all over the puck”) and Sean Avery (who Razor noted as creating a “wonderful disruption” in the crease). Also, not long afterwards, Niskanen got a highlight-worthy hit in when he smeared Benoit Pouliot across the boards. 

Neal and Parrish both did their bests to cram the puck in behind Backstrom, but the period ended 2-1 Wild.

Second period…

Started off painfully. Brunette, seemingly to make up for his face-off issues earlier, tipped a shot from Skoula past Turco at 1:06. Nobody saw it coming, except maybe Brunette. Eric Belanger with the second assist.

A minute later, 6’8” 260 lb Derek Boogaard did his best to squish 5’11” 190 lb Robidas into the boards. Robidas, us at SHR, and Krys Barch all took offense at this. Barch shoved Boogaard in the side of the head as he rose from the hit, Robidas gave him a shove in the back, and Boogaard challenged Barch to a scrum. Despite being 6” shorter and 30 lbs lighter, Barch accepted. He dealt with the size difference by clinging to Boogaard’s jersey and holding on for his life while his kidney got tenderized by an enormous fist. Better that than his brains, though.

Both got five for fighting, and Boogaard got an extra two for elbowing. 

Once that PP was killed off without a SOG, the Wild got one of their own when Toby Petersen took a hooking minor at 6:01.

At 6:20, the game nearly slipped out of reach when a shot from Koivu snapped across Turco’s crossbar and set off the goal light. However, the officials went to review the goal for such a lengthy amount of time that, when Wild momentum had been effectively lost when they returned with the no-goal verdict. Turns out, the puck went from crossbar to pipe and out again without ever crossing the goal line. 

With the tiniest bit of momentum offered, the Stars grabbed on and refused to let go. The penalty was otherwise killed and Turco reacted with what appeared to be a new determination; three goals were enough for one game. 

Around 12:15, Nicklas Grossman did one of his “I am taller and can force you to the ice on your back with one shove” upendings that we love so much. But then, at 15:29, he grabbed someone for a holding minor and put the Stars on PK again.

That PK almost ended badly, with a flurry of action in front of Turco, but he did his job well, and 17:30 James Neal emerged from the scramble alone with the puck.

As he crossed center ice, it looked like Neal would get some help from Grossman as he emerged from the “sin bin”, but he instead went straight to the bench. By the time he got to the Minnesota blue line, it was him, Bergeron, Kim Johnsson, and Cal Clutterbuck. Neal’s sheer determination led him to do something we’ve been sorely lacking- instead of waiting for his teammates, he risked a shot. Backstrom blocked the shot, but as Neal, Bergeron, and Clutterbuck closed in on the rebound, it was knocked into the net.


Looking closer, you can see that it was apparently Bergeron who offered a solid surface for the puck to deflect off of and into the net. You can also see Backstrom staring at the goal he thought he stopped. Whoopsies. 

Goal was counted at 17:40 to an unassisted Neal, since it would be cruel and backwards to give the assist to a member of the team he scored against. 

Then Barch hit Clutterbuck which made Pouliot mad so he roughed Barch and got a penalty.

During the PK, a clearing attempt bounced off Neal’s hand, and he retreated to the bench to have it looked at. He resumed play shortly after, so everything seems alright, but… Ott played out a game with a broken hand. Hopefully this time, no news is good news.

Dallas ended the period down one, but as Razor put it, “They’re behind, but they’re in this.”

Favorite quote in the entire game came from Razor, naturally, at the beginning of the third:

“The big puck-pursuing puppy, James Neal.”


I concur.

Avery went offside for probably the 10th time in the game, and when the official whistled him, he started to argue it. Really? Going to debate about whether or not you were offside? Annnnyway.

Koivu was thwarted for the third time in the game when he was joined by a teammate in a 2-on-1 rush against Robidas towards the Dallas net. Robidas used his classic dive ‘n’ slide to great effect, and they were unable to score. 

He was thwarted a fourth time soon after, in a mishap that had Turco stumbling against his net and knocking it loose, followed by some flopping save attempts and a Koivu goal. Because of the net not being off its moorings, the goal was automatically nullified. 

Between the two no-goals, Neal’s persistent rushes to the net, and some general good luck, the Stars constructed a momentous third, the likes of which not seen since last season’s playoffs. 

Neal proved his defensive worth as well, saving Dallas from a possibly game-ending Minnesota goal with his attentiveness and quick reflexes. 


Then, in one swift move, Brad Richards dispatched rumors that he’s entirely unable to put a puck in a fairly open net while simultaneously tying the game. He escaped from the corner behind Backstrom’s net with the puck, patiently waited for the defenseman and goalie in his way to drop to block any low shots, and shot it into the top corner very nicely. Loui Eriksson and Landon Wilson got assists. 3-3 at 8:30 in the third.

Mike Ribeiro and James Neal both nearly got tie-breaking goals, but that right would eventually go to our team leading goal scorer. 

At 13:00, Robidas blasted a shot through a mess of bodies, including that of Loui Eriksson, who tipped it in to give the Stars their first lead since ten minutes into the first period. They’d successfully dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole, and only had to keep the Wild from pushing the game into overtime.

It certainly helped that Brent Burns slashed Avery at 17:13 and spent 2/3 of the game’s remainder tucked safely away in the penalty box. The Stars didn’t score, but kept the Wild from an empty net assault until the final thirty seconds. Turco finished out the game with some important saves, and somehow, a roughing penalty at 20:00 against someone who was nowhere near him. I dunno.

The important thing is that the Wild did not score, and the Stars beat them 4-3 to claim a full 2 points and take a small step out of the league’s basement. 

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game (in order): Neal, Belanger, and Burns
  • Turco stopped 25 out of 28 shots, for a sv% of .892
  • The goals were the first career away goals for James Neal, whose previous 3 had all come in home games. They also marked his first career multi-point game.
  • Loui Eriksson now has 7 points in 5 games, with 10 goals and 7 assists for the 21 games this season. This is also known as “tied for 20th overall in the league for goals scored”, “on track for a 40-goal season”, and “five goals away from breaking his career best”. 
  • Someone please teach Avery the basics of the blue line, and how to properly cross it.
  • Jacques Lemaire might be a wonderful coach, but he’s a bit of a sore loser.
  • Goaltender Niklas Backstrom entered the match with a 44-0-3 career record when leading after the second period. He exited 44-1-3.  
  • For a team that’s been outscored 22-11 in the third period this season, the fact that the Stars outscored the Wild 2-0 in the third is hopefully a sign of positive change.
  • You can’t ignore, however, the fact that the Stars are now 0-16 on the PP for the last three games.
  • Stephane Robidas led the team in TOI, though Zubov and Daley were close behind.
  • Robidas also led in blocked shots, with 3. 
  • Daley led the team in +/- as a +4. Robidas was +3, and now leads the team in that regard as an overall +7.
  • James Neal led in SOG (5), though everyone but Fabian Brunnstrom had at least one.
  • Conclusion: Turco was good, but still had his share of costly mistakes. While a lot of this win can be attributed to luck, a good portion was also due to a change in attitude. Instead of giving up when they fell behind, the Stars finally showed a glimpse of how their team looks when rallied together.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for the strong +/- and blocked shots; +3
Matt Niskanen: one for a solid game; +1
Trevor Daley: two for impressive defense; +2
Krys Barch: one for standing up for Robidas, one for sheer bravery, one for the fight, but minus-one for losing it; +2
Sean Avery: one for crowding the crease but minus-one for all the offsides trouble; +0
James Neal: three for each goal, one for style, one for determination, and one for saving a goal; +9
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for each assist; +7
Landon Wilson: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for the phantom roughing penalty; +1
Mark Parrish: one for persistence; +1
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for trying too hard for pretty goals; -1
Brad Richards: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for finally ending in the +/- positive; +1

November 26, 2008

Sidney Crosby is a Tool: SHR!’s View of the NHL

by Chelsea

With the Dallas Stars slumped in a 6-10-4 hole at the bottom of the league, we at SHR! felt it was time to stop being so introspective. We’ve picked, prodded, and yelled at everyone from the players to the owner, and now it’s time to move on (at least until the next game). Team bias aside, here’s how we feel about some other players across the league this season.

Note: All the links go to images, videos, and articles that we felt illustrated our feelings best. So please, don’t hesitate with the clicking. 
 

Sidney Crosby
First overall draft pick in 2005. Winner of the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Hart Memorial Trophy. 21 years old and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Led his team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and failed (despite his best efforts) to grow any semblance of a beard through the entire run. Also, he’s a total tool. In a meeting with a pair of original Penguins season ticket holders, Crosby responded to the couple’s enthusiasm with monotonous ‘Oh’s and ‘Okay’s. A 9-year-old can do your spinny move, Crosby. It doesn’t make you special or make up for the absolute lack of personality. Your own team’s fans call you “Cindy” for a reason.
 

Evgeni Malkin
Basically a slightly older, Russian, less dynamic version of Crosby. Since we’ve already determined that Crosby’s a tool, that means Malkin is too. Pity. He’s first in the league for assists right now, but sitting under that kind of stifling shadow, he’ll always be at the bottom of our books (especially when it comes to Russian players). Should he ever escape Sid and the Pens, we’ll be on the lookout for the much-anticipated reveal of his personality. Until then, though, no thanks.   
 

Alexander Ovechkin
Now here’s a Russian player we can get behind. Sure, he’s got aesthetics of a Cro-Magnon, but behind all that scruff is a highly-skilled someone with a real love of the sport. Known for exuberant goal celebrations, a goofy grin, incredible scoring ability, and a seemingly never-ending list of quirks, Ovechkin is credited with bringing much-needed personality and talent into the NHL. He was first overall in his draft year (2004) and, thanks to the lockout, ended up debuting versus Sidney Crosby, effectively stealing the Calder Memorial Trophy with a stunning 52 goal/106 point season. Really though, we mostly love him because he makes us laugh just about every time he gets in front of a camera or near a reporter. 


Alexander Semin
The “other” Alex is generally overshadowed by Alex Ovechkin, but we found that there’s a lot to like about this guy aside from his partner-in-crime. We first picked him up on our radar when this interview came out with him calling Crosby “nothing special”. Now, them’s fighting words. While the rest of the league took offense, we sat back and had a good laugh. The best part? Semin was sharing the top spot in league points with Malkin up until his injury, with 27 points in 16 games. Crosby, meanwhile, still only has 25 points in 20 games. Like Ovechkin, though, his obvious talent isn’t the main draw to us at SHR. We love him because, despite being here for 2 full years (5 if you include up to his first as a Capital) and obviously understanding English, he still insists on doing interviews in Russian using a translator. Or because he’s always laughing at seemingly nothing. Or because he does things like this during games. He’s infectious.

 

Brooks Laich (and Mike Green)
While he might not be as good of a goal scorer as Ovechkin (12 points in 21 games), Laich claims to challenge him in the “ladies man” department. We may not necessarily agree with that, but we will agree that he’s a funny and well-spoken guy. Green is included because he shares the spotlight with Laich in some fun adventures with Caps Cribs. In the end, Laich won out because (okay, not ALL bias aside) he’s from Saskatchewan and so is Brenden Morrow, and he unsurprisingly reminds us a little bit of our beloved captain. 


Jason Arnott
An ex-Star, he proved to be a major pain in the derriere so far this season. Captaining the Nashville Predators, he got two goals and one assist in the only time he’s played us in 08-09. We lost that game 3-1. From our understanding, he was that kind of ache for Stars fans even when he was a Star, his antics making him more trouble than he was worth. Still, he’s earned his spot as captain for his new team, and we were openly alarmed the night he suffered a neck strain on a frightful collision that left him motionless on the ice for over five minutes. Glad he’s alright, and looking forward to despising him again come our match-up in December.
 

Jordan Tootoo
We respectfully dislike Arnott, because he’s got the potential to put us in some statistical pain. We just outright hate Tootoo, because he’s got the potential to put us in some unnecessarily excessive physical pain. His nicknames range from “Tutu” to “Toots” and they all remind us of how he likes to suckerpunch people with his gloves on. We think words like “vile,” “scum,” and “cowardly” describe him best. He’s been accused of biting people, running injured players, diving, faking innocence, and otherwise shaming the sport. We might be holding a grudge, but rightfully so. This man has no and has earned no respect. 
 

Henrik Lundqvist
Twin of Stars forward Joel Lundqvist, Henrik is the goaltender for the New York Rangers. While we may not care much for that team, Lundqvist stands alone as our favored Eastern goalie. He currently sports a .926 sv%, good for seventh best in the league, and a GAA (2.09) that’s good for fifth best. When his team needs a big player, he makes big saves, and when he can’t do that, he doesn’t throw a fit when he gets pulled from the game. He’s a class act with style that should make Sean Avery jealous, but… well, he doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously. 


Martin Brodeur
A good part of why we like Lundqvist is that he’s escaped the kind of snobbery that seems to drip off other Eastern goalies, particularly Brodeur. He could be the best netminder ever to set foot on ice, or the worst, and it wouldn’t matter to us with an attitude like that. When someone in the league does something he doesn’t like (see Avery, arm-waving), he gripes about it until the rules are changed in his favor. And when other goaltenders began exploiting equipment size rules, Brodeur stubbornly insisted on wearing the old, smaller sizes. Good for him, but then he turned around and complained that other goalies had an unfair advantage. Wait, what? His game wasn’t even suffering from this “injustice”, and he still forced another rule change about it. Its amazing that there’s still a goalie trapezoid, all things considered.
 

Patrick Kane (and Jonathon Toews)
Neither of them appear to have hit puberty yet, but they both do their best to carry the Blackhawks on their shoulders in an unfortunate Crosby-like trend. Since when are a pair of 20-year-olds responsible enough to lead a professional hockey team? 
Also like Sidney Crosby, Kane can’t grow a beard. He said here that he wasn’t going to shave, but we saw him in Dallas 10 days later and can attest to the fact that his facial hair was still MIA. When it comes to the ‘Hawks, we’d rather see more of the pranksters, Adam Burish and Patrick Sharp, and less of the pranked. 


Chris Chelios (and the Red Wings)
If schooling the Stars and the Penguins in last year’s playoffs wasn’t enough proof, the Red Wings walked off with the Stanley Cup and the respect of the entire league. Their skill level, style of play, and ability to win has brought us to this conclusion: the Wings are animatronic hockey players. A good example of this is Chris Chelios, who has been functioning in the NHL for longer than players like Crosby or Ovechkin have been alive. We reckon that he’s due for an oil change soon. We’re not sure where Detroit picked up such sophisticated technology (the same place they get their dead octopuses, maybe?), but we’ll bet that they’re powered with Energizer batteries. 


Braydon Coburn
Rolled out of bed, got misdirected by a hurricane, wandered through a prison, and finally made it to the Flyer’s headshot photoshoot. At least, that’s what it looks like. At 6’5” and 220 lbs, we still think Coburn is probably the least-scary giant hockey monster we’ve ever not actually met. We credit this commercial for giving us that opinion, as he brought a surprising amount of natural charisma to make for a very endearing thirty seconds. Hockey commercials are usually funny because of the awful acting. This one was funny for just the opposite. 


Ryan Malone
Joining Coburn in the ranks of people we like because of their hockey commercials is Ryan Malone. To be honest, we don’t care if he DID take more money and fled his hometown to stink it up with the Lightning. He’s got better stats than Steven Stamkos right now, anyway. Besides, after seeing this, we suspect he was sick of being the only person with an outgoing personality on his team. Is it possible that a losing Lightning still beats a winning Penguins when rated on fun and humor? We hope so. 

 

Saku Koivu (and Mikko Koivu
A pair of Finnish hockey brothers, separated by nine years and a thousand miles, the Koivus are as charming as they come. Saku has been with the Canadiens since they drafted him in 1993, while Mikko has been for Minnesota since they drafted him in 2001. With both of them currently captaining their respective teams, it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll ever play on the same side in an NHL match-up. Older brother Saku gets the upperhand for us because of his battle with cancer, and our respect for him having overcome it. 

 

Marc Savard
There were a lot of Bruins competing for this spot, including Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Savard got it because of his antics in the game in which they played the Stars. Once again, bias aside, this was really our first impression of Bruins gameplay, and it left us with a bitter taste in our mouths. We fully understand how grating Avery must have been for him, but that gave Savard no excuse to push him into the fetal position and punch him in the head. We wouldn’t even wish that kind of circus on our rivals, which is why we hope the likes of Savard never becomes part of the Stars. 


Eric Staal (and Jordan and Marc and Jared)
Oh, the Staal brothers. Eric and Jordan already have hat tricks this season, and Marc… has only gotten four points in 24 games this season. That’s alright, though. Jared’s still stuck in the minors. We might not be fans of them as individuals per se, but as a group, they’re definitely fun to watch. Maybe we have a harder time loving them as individuals because it’s so hard to tell them apart when they aren’t wearing the colors of their respective teams. We’re even willing to excuse this little incident, because the mental image of hockey superstars wandering drunk on a highway harassing motorists is kind of funny. 

 

That’s all for our SCiaT: SVotN. Feel free to comment and add on to our conclusions, or remind us of heroes and villains that we may have left off the list.

November 25, 2008

Game Review – 11/24/08 (DAL vs PHI)

by Chelsea

Game:

Philadelphia Flyers vs Dallas Stars.

At 3:17, scoring opened in favor of the Flyers, whose first SOG of the night went zooming past Turco. After Nicklas Grossman got plastered in the corner, Scottie Upshall was left perfectly open in front of the net for a pass from Joffrey Lupul. Turco was in the wrong side of his crease and didn’t manage to make the save.

At 11:33, Landon Wilson tied the game at 1-1. The only assist went to Darryl Sydor, who retrieved the puck from the boards and sent it towards Flyers netminder Martin Biron. Wilson picked it up from there to throw it in the net for his first NHL goal in four years.

It seemed like the period would end in a tie, but at 16:00 in the first Simon Gagne broke away from Sean Avery and Stephane Robidas and managed to pass the puck ahead to Mike Knuble, who flipped it easily past Turco.

First ended 2-1, which was plenty cause for worry, because so far out of the 11 times we’d left the first trailing, we’d only managed to win once.

At 00:28 in the second, Upshall tripped Sergei Zubov in a race to reach an iced puck, sending Zubov against the boards. Despite being slow to rise, Zubov skated himself off the ice and returned to the game uninjured. Upshall got a 2 minute tripping minor.

Unfortunately, the Stars would not convert their first PP opportunity of the game.

Instead, the goal would come two seconds afterwards. “Robidas… shot, save, Modano… the rebound! He scores!” At 2:30, Mike Modano did what James Neal did a few games earlier against the Blackhawks – swooping in behind the rebound scramble to collect the lose puck and put it in the net. The assists officially went to Loui Eriksson and Mark Parrish, but I’m also going to give Robidas SHR points for the initial cheesy rebound shot.

At 4:38, Josh Gratton got two minutes for roughing Sean Avery. No PP goal here, either.

8:33, Toby Petersen trips a Flyer. Stars PK did its job. Game continues at 2-2.

At 14:12, Jeff Carter scores for the Flyers, with the assist from Scott Hartnell.

At 17:26, Trevor Daley stole a dropped pass from a Flyer, whisking it ahead to Brad Richards. Richards’ shot was saved and the puck wound up behind the net with Trevor Daley. Daley passed to Modano, who scored again to tie the game.

2nd period ended 2-2.

Third period.

8:01 in and Braydon Coburn trips up Mike Ribeiro in the Dallas defensive zone, who flies to the ice looking determined and angry and still manages to swat the puck towards center ice. PP Stars, still no goal.

At 9:57, Mike Knuble grabbed Petersen and held on long enough for a holding penalty. Again, no PPG for the Stars.

At 14:52, defenseman Doug Janik had a mental lapse and turned the puck over to the Flyers. Then, he failed entirely at retrieving it or stopping it from going in Turco’s net. Another goal for Mike Knuble, assists for Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, and the tie breaks 4-3 Flyers.

Despite a Coburn hooking minor with a minute left in the game, the Stars played ‘hot potato’ with the puck and spent the entire time passing the puck from player to player. The only SOG registered was one by Mike Modano, when he chased the dumped puck into the Stars zone with three seconds on the clock and smacked it across the ice to Biron’s net. Nice try, Mo.

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game, in order: Knuble, Modano, Carter
  • Matt Niskanen was again scratched for Janik, who ended up having a less-than-stellar game.
  • Mike Modano is now only 2 points away from having 1,300 career total.
  • Steve Ott was scratched, due to having broken his hand in a fight during the last game.
  • Brad Richards led in SOG (5), followed by James Neal (4)
  • Stephane Robidas and Mark Parrish tied for the most hits (3), while everyone but Trevor Daley, Sergei Zubov, Brad Richards, and Fabian Brunnstrom had at least one hit.
  • The Stars won in faceoffs overall with 55%, led by Mike Modano’s 68%.
  • Conclusion: Plain to see, the many many turnovers led to the Stars downfall this time. However, people do make mistakes, and that’s what we have defense for. And when defense makes mistakes, that’s what the goalies for. I find it hard to say we should excuse Turco for his 5-goal 5-hole, because I refuse to accept that we’ve become a team with such a poor netminder that we’ve now begun nitpicking the other players for letting it get to him in the first place. On the other end, people like Zubov, Ribeiro, Avery, and Richards need to take a page from Modano’s book- shoot the puck at the net (it doesn’t have to be pretty) and eventually it goes in… as long as you don’t completely miss the net.

SHR +/-:

Nicklass Grossman: minus-one for unimpressive play; -1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one for intelligent play, minus-one for a nasty turnover, but one for doing what it took to get it back; +3
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: three for each goal and one for effort; +7
Sean Avery: minus-one for irritating Stars fans more than players on opposing teams; -1
Toby Petersen: one for his defensive work but minus-one for his offensive work; +0
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Landon Wilson: three for the goal; +3
Doug Janik: minus-two for all that sloppy; -2
Mark Parrish: two for the assist; +2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist but minus-two for squandering many wonderful opportunities; +0

November 23, 2008

Game Review – 11/22/08 (DAL vs ANA)

by Chelsea

No game review for the Hawks game, because the only part of that game that ended up really mattering was something that happened in the last six minutes. No need to write out just how badly it the game went.

Game:

Last night, the Stars faced the Anaheim Ducks for the second time this season and the first time at home. The puck dropped at 7:00 PM CT. This was probably the first time since opening night that the crowd rose to their feet when the Stars starting line/defense was announced, which was really nice to see.

Our starting line was Neal-Ribeiro-Avery, with Grossman-Zubov on D. In net for the Stars was Marty Turco, while Anaheim started their backup goalie, Jonas Hiller.

The first period was on fire. That’s what I love about playing the Ducks- no matter how bad things have been, its always Duck Season when Anaheim rolls into town. I didn’t do the exact math, but I think there were the first 3 minutes and a minute or so in between penalties without someone in the box, but for the other 15 minutes of the first, there was always someone in one of the penalty boxes.

It all kicked off at 2:50, when Ryan Getzlaf took two minutes for cross checking Sean Avery. I can only imagine what Avery was saying to get him worked up so quickly. Before that PP even finished, Avery got into it with Steve Montador. After some angry shuffling, Montador came away with 2 minutes for roughing, and Avery matched that but also got 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct (served by Mark Parrish). So, at 4:40, we switched from PP to PK.

PK = not so hot. At 5:37, Corey Perry exploited Turco’s inability to plug the 5-hole for a quick power play goal, putting them up 1-0. To this I say (with considerable disgust), “Averryyyy.”

Another reason I love Krys Barch: he hates stupid 80’s wrestler mustaches just as much as I do! Only two seconds after the Ducks scored, Barch tried his best to wipe that ugly facial hair right off George Parros, using his fists.

Unfortunately, Parros is something of a monster (6’5”, 231 lbs) and got a few solid hits in with Barch in no position to retaliate. The only real hit Barch got in, though, happened to be hard enough to send Parros to the ice. I’d call it a draw.

Both got 5 minute fighting majors.

Landon Wilson, 33-year-old son of Stars associate coach Rick Wilson, was dressed for the Stars after having been called up after Morrow’s hugely unfortunate injury. He wore #22 and the first thing he did as a Star was get a hooking minor. I think at this point (6:03 in the first) we had Avery, Barch, Parrish, and Wilson in the box. The Ducks box had Parros and Montador.

Things went fairly smoothly for a bit here, teams doing the usual hitting, PKing, and puck scrambling. Then, Avery got out of the box. It took him less than five minutes to get back in it.

At 12:10, Avery was able to get an actual fight in, against Chris Kunitz (who later got a cheap shot in at Avery’s helmet as he skated to the bench, which Avery rightly ignored). The fight was pretty much a draw, but Avery got the last laugh when he grabbed Kunitz by the face to force him to the ice.

And another pair of five-minute fightings.

Kristine turned to me around here somewhere and said, “Now it’s Ott’s turn.”

Mike Modano always seems to get jealous of people in the penalty box, as he once again trips someone to go take a sit-down with a teammate (only 13 seconds after the fight). Luckily, this didn’t put us down by two men like it did last time he pulled this stunt. I laugh a little at how Mo must have felt, sitting in the penalty box with Sean Avery.

Killed that penalty off, and got a power play of our own when Bret Hedican took a hooking on Toby Petersen (who I am absolutely convinced should be a defenseman, not a center) at 15:47.

This next part was funny for two reasons. One, because Kristine absolutely called it. Two, because of how startled 210 lb Montador looked when 193 lb Ott turned around after slamming him into the boards and shoved him.

For such an exciting start, the fight itself kind of sucked. They basically wrapped their arms around each other and skated in a circle. Razor cracked a joke about Tom Bergeron (from Dancing with the Stars) showing up. Sorry Otter, but that one was a draw too.

More fighting majors distributed.

Got a power play at the end of the period when Travis Moen elbowed a Star at 19:19.

And that’s how the first ended, with 46 minutes in penalties between the two teams.

The second started with good momentum, seeing as we were on a power play for the first 80 seconds. Then we got a short two-man advantage.  At 00:46, Brett Festerling got two minutes for hooking, giving the Stars a full 30 seconds of 5-on-3 followed by 90 of 5-on-4.

The Ducks killed off the PP until Loui Eriksson got a minor interference at 1:16 (right as our 5-on-3 ended) that evened it out to 4-on-4. I think. Either way, the only good thing to come of that penalty mess was a good scoring chance from Ribeiro that was unfortunately stopped by Hiller.

To add to the penalty mess, Chris Pronger was all, like, “Oooh, interference, that looks like funnn.” so he totally copied Loui and got 2 for interfering on Sean Avery, ’cause, like, everybody wants a piece of Aves.

Now, this was the first game as alternate captain Stephane Robidas, and he stepped up nicely in the second after Festerling got a hit in on Mike Ribeiro (that I believe caused him to lose his helmet). Robidas, in return, introduced Festerling to both his shoulder and the boards. To add a little (probably unintended) insult, he stumbled over the attempting-to-rise Festerling without even seeming to notice he was there.

At about 11:20, both Brad Richards and Sergei Zubov nearly scored, and Fabian Brunnstrom nearly got the rebound. For someone who looks sorta timid when he’s on the ice, Bunny put in a heck of an effort that left him sitting in the crease- still trying to stuff the puck past Hiller.

A+ for persistence.

With the momentum strongly favoring the Stars, and Turco blocking everything sent his way to keep it at a 1-0 game, it was only a matter of time before someone’s golden opportunity produced a point.

It’d be Loui Eriksson, further cementing his current standing as team leading goal scorer, who popped a pretty one past Hiller. The play started with Marty Turco, who left his crease to retrieve the puck from behind his net and send it along the boards, where Trevor Daley picked it up. Daley hit the boosters and him and Eriksson zipped across center ice into Anaheim’s defensive zone. Daley veered left, Eriksson went right, Daley passed, and Eriksson caught it as he sailed past the crease for a swift backhand into the net.

Then Daley mauled Eriksson with a congratulatory hug.

Now, there’s something Neal did during this that was oddly reminiscent of a much-missed style of play that we used to see constantly from the Stars; he took the man, not the puck. As Turco’s pass whipped around the boards, Neal cut off the lone Duck in position to take the puck, and Daley was there to collect it as it slipped past.

Daley and Turco officially got the assists, but Neal’s move opened up the opportunity for Daley. So I’m going to credit him in our +/- for an assist anyway.

I nearly left my seat to go strangle Avery when he got another roughing penalty at 14:57 in the second, which led to a Corey Perry goal at 15:03. However, Turco apparently knocked the net off its moorings during the attempted save, and the goal was disallowed. The Ducks were understandably peeved, and Turco admitted that maybe it wasn’t the fairest call, but I’m sure Morrow was sitting somewhere feeling a little bit of retribution.

Right at the end of the period, Chris Pronger hooked Neal, giving the Stars a full two minutes of PP to start the third on.

Third period, again started with a brief 5-on-3 thanks to Scott Niedermayer getting an interference penalty at 00:38. For probably the third or fourth time this season, the Stars failed to score on a prime two man advantage opportunity. They got maybe two SOG during the PP.

Tis the season of double penalties, apparently. Quiet giant Nicklas Grossman got a little rowdy and took it out on Ryan Getzlaf. They tried to duel it out and both got slashing penalties. Grossman got a good shove in on Getzlaf before they were separated, though.

The last eight minutes of regulation were tense and energetic but still ended 1-1. OT was even more tense and energetic but those five minutes ended 1-1 as well.

Shootout! I hate shootouts. I predicted Ribeiro, Eriksson, and Modano for the shooters. It was actually Richards, Zubov, and Ribeiro.

Richards scored, hoorah, but after Turco let in a goal from Perry, it was up to Zubov and Ribeiro. Zubov had some fancy skating, but ended up sending the puck right to Hiller. Ribeiro tried a fancy between the legs move again, but just missed. Getzlaf was last for the Ducks, and he correctly predicted Turco’s movements enough to win the shootout 2-1 Ducks. That ended the game 2-1 Ducks as well. The standing points also were distributed 2-1 in favor of the Ducks.

One point > zero points, but one point =/= enough to climb out of the cellar.

Notes:

  • The three game stars (in order): Hiller, Getzlaf, Daley
  • Turco stopped 23 of 24 shots for a .958 sv% despite having started by letting in the first Duck shot of the game.
  • The Ducks ended with 12 penalties for a total of 33 minutes. The Stars had 10 penalties and 29 minutes.
  • Sean Avery led the Stars in PIM for the game, with 11.
  • Sergei Zubov led in TOI, with 31:49.
  • Mike Modano tanked in the faceoff circle with only 38% wins (8 out of 22). Best was Mike Ribeiro, who won 10 in 8 for 56%.
  • Modano and Robidas led in SOG, with 4 each.
  • Matt Niskanen was scratched for Doug Janik, who clocked in for 7:57 ice time.
  • Steve Ott led in hits (5) and Trevor Daley in blocked shots (3).
  • In the four games that have gone into OT this season, the Stars have won 0 of them.
  • Conclusion: I saw nearly 60 minutes of (to borrow Robidas’ term) work ethic from every Star. Turco was impressive, but is getting predictable with his 5-hole issues. This team has too much respect for Morrow to not pull together for his sake. My money’s on finally seeing a winning streak soon.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for throwing his weight around against the Ducks; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for continuing to prove himself worthy of the ‘A’; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for leading in blocked shots; +3
Mike Modano: minus-one for getting so easily knocked off the puck all night; -1
Brenden Morrow: 😦 ; +1
Krys Barch: one for the fight; +1
Sean Avery: minus-one for each of the stupid penalties and one for the fight; -2
James Neal: two for the assist and one for having a strong overall game; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: one for the fight, one for leading in hits, and one for leading in takeaways; +3
Marty Turco: two for the assist, two for a fairly solid game, but minus-one for getting bested by a backup in a shootout; +3
Sergei Zubov: one for being a machine, albeit a slightly rusty one; +1
Mike Ribeiro: one for the fancy shootout move but minus-one for not scoring on it; +0
Brad Richards: two for scoring on the shootout; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for having one of his best games since his debut, despite not getting any points to show for it; +2

Off Ice +/-:

Trevor Daley: one for a funny “60 seconds with…” during intermission; +1
Mark Parrish: two for being surprisingly friendly at Friday’s practice; +2
Brad Richards: minus-two for being so incredibly mopey so consistently that we’ve stopped feeling concerned and started feeling annoyed at his pessimistic pouting; -2

November 22, 2008

Robidas Gets An ‘A’

by Chelsea

Dave Tippett announced today that there’d be no interim captain with Morrow out. Instead, Stephane Robidas will join Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano as an alternate captain. 

Tippett said Robidas has definitely earned the right.

“He typifies how we want to be perceived as an organization…very similar to Brenden,” Tippett said.

The rest of that is here, at DMN’s Mike Heika’s blog. 

So, congrats to Robidas. We of course have felt like he deserves this since he sported the ‘A’ early in the year (possibly preseason?) when Zubov was out. For most of that time, though, Brad Richards had the ‘A’, which raises the question of why he got it for a short time but it was given to someone else for the long haul. 

Also in that article is a suggestion that Niskanen will be scratched for Doug Janik tonight.

Heika also has this, with some quotes from Morrow about his injury. 

Morrow said he needs a complete reconstruction. He said the doctors are addressing other problems in his knee and said some tendons that are normally used for reconstruction (the patellar tendon, particularly) aren’t in good shape. So he said he needs this.

He may be able to walk on the injury and go to morning skate, but clearly its not something he should even think about playing with until he’s 100%.

Which leads to this: Will Avery, Richards, Turco, and the rookies finally step up to the plate and dig this team out of its hole for Morrow’s sake? We brought in Avery for his grit and ability to force his way to the net, which Morrow had been providing. We brought in Richards as an experienced leader and team player, which we desperately need. We’ve looked to Turco to steady the ship and provide a foundation to win games on, and with the captain injured, we need some solid ground. This is also the prime opportunity for Brunnstrom and Neal to get some ice time and bring some much-needed energy. 

As far as defense goes, it’s time for Robidas, Sydor, and Zubov to reel in the newer defense and reforge the Star’s identity once again.

November 21, 2008

Morrow Out Indefinitely

by Chelsea

Us SHR girls went to practice this morning. For having just lost a game 6-3 and running through a good amount of grinding drills, the players seemed surprisingly upbeat. Mark Parrish was chatty, Marty Turco was smiling and his usual social self, Joel Lundqvist and Ralph Strangis made surprise appearances, and Brad Richards did not in fact seem to be on the verge of tears. 

So, I get home to my trusted Mac intending to write a cheerful “Off Ice points for everyone!” practice update and a quick game review. Instead, there is this heart breaking news to share:

The Dallas Stars announced today that the left wing Brenden Morrow is out indefinitely with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that will require surgery. He is expected to miss up to six months. The club also recalled right wing Landon Wilson from Grand Rapids (AHL). 

“We are obviously very disappointed to hear the news about Brenden’s knee,” said Co-General Manager Les Jackson. “As our captain, he will obviously be missed, but we have every assurance that he can and will come back from this injury at 100 percent. There is a lot of hockey left to be played this season, and we are confident our team will rally together and keep pushing.”
The rest of the release is here.
Six months is the entire season, and that includes the post season. Even if his recovery goes extremely well, the chances of him coming back before the end of the regular season seem very slim. Nobody wants him to push himself to that point anyway, really. 
If anyone has a video of the incident in which he was hurt, or even knows the full reason, that’d be great. All I actually know is that he limped off the ice 6-7 minutes before the game ended last night, and wasn’t to be seen at practice this morning. 
 
Its a little hard to imagine the entire season without Morrow. I’m sure he’s even more broken over not being able to be there for his team than we are at him being hurt. Since he’s become captain, he’s missed half of a season due to severed wrist tendons, last year’s playoff run, and now again missing the majority of the season. In a painful coincidence, both season-ending injuries came during losses to the Chicago Blackhawks. 

In other injury-related news, Lundqvist was not wearing the sling that’s been supporting his injured shoulder, but instead appeared to be carrying it. He mentioned to someone that he was feeling a little better. However, he’s still a long ways off, not even skating in practice yet. No Lehtinen either.

I really hope the Stars players aren’t as ready to throw in the towel and call it a rebuilding/draft pick season as the fans are. 

Best wishes and get well soon, Morrow. 😦

November 19, 2008

Hull, Lehtinen, and Smith (+Avery Drama)

by Chelsea

Not Mike Smith.

Will Smith.

Yeah… our Stars got to roll with the big stars last night!

In other news, Brett Hull was speaking like a true hillbilly:

Hull: That’s complete (bull). I tried to nip that in the bud on the radio. There’s no turmoil whatsoever on this team. All the rumors you hear of Sean Avery are so (bleeping) (bull) — he’s been great. He’s our leading plus-minus guy. He’s been playing hard, (shoot), he’s playing (bleeping) hurt.

The rest of the interview is here. All interesting, but I wonder – is Avery really hiding an injury?

Lastly, Lehtinen is going to be out 7-10 days with an upper body injury, unrelated to the one that kept him out for the first part of the season.

I wonder if it has anything to do with this awkward moment:

Update:

“According to sources who were on the ice at the time, Boston center Marc Savard was settling in for a face off against 38-year-old Mike Modano in the third period when he said, “Too bad you’ll be retiring after having played with those clowns.” (referring to Ott and that worthless idiot Avery). Modano replied, “I know.”

….

“What’s he going to say? Thats not something I would have done, but everyone has a prerogative to speak his mind.” – Avery, on Modano.

(Rest of the article quotes here, with thanks to dane3263 who posted about the piece)

Hull can’t honestly say that there’s absolutely no Modano-Avery controversy.

I’m sick of the Stars being a joke this season. If it was because of injuries, or problems at home, or just regular slumping, that’s one thing. Instead, it’s locker room discord. Is it too much to ask for Avery to take a permanent vacation? Or for Modano to suck it up for the sake of the team?