Game Review – 12/10/08 (DAL vs PHX)

by Chelsea


There was an indiscernible good feeling going into this game. The Avery situation was being dealt with, we had a new center and an actual fourth line in Swedish import Tom Wandell, and were coming off a slight but much-needed win against Colorado.

Of course, assuming you know how the game ended, that good feeling did not bring us the start of a winning streak. Instead, it was quickly converted into a grimace-inducing loss.

The first period started with a bit of hope. Rookie James Neal spent some time exchanging hits with Todd Fedoruk, a big hitter with nearly 40 pounds on Neal. Fedoruk, who did not register points, but made an effort to be a giant physical pain all night.

Shortly after, the first of many unnecessary penalties was taken, by Coyote Zbynek Michalek, at 2:04 for sending the puck over the glass. Whoops.

The two minutes passed with the Stars only getting 1 shot on goal, from RW Mark Parrish. How many times do they have to be told to shoot the puck on the man advantage?

The PP did give Dallas strong momentum, though, and it turned into points shortly after Phoenix returned to full strength.

The production came from a fast, well-orchestrated play from Chris Conner to  Toby Petersen, and then from Petersen to Trevor Daley.  Daley took a shot off from the faceoff circle left of Bryzgalov that rang off the post and into the net, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead 4:34 into the first. I believe, though I’m not entirely positive, that it was the first goal from a Dallas defenseman since Matt Niskanen scored on October 29th against the Minnesota Wild.

Darryl Sydor joined in the fun at 4:50, flipping the puck off the ice and getting 2 minutes for it.

Phoenix captain Shane Doan pretty much dominated that PP, nearly scoring on Turco and doing his best to squash Mike Ribeiro. No PPG for them, though. Towards the end of the PK, Loui Erikkson got a scoring opportunity against Bryzgalov, unfortunately stopped.

Not even three minutes after taking an early lead, the Stars saw it slip away. At 7:19, Martin Hanzal wreaked some emotional havoc for the first of two times in the game. With half of the Stars on the ice getting tricked and confused behind the net, and Turco unable to slid across his crease fast enough, Hanzal slid the puck barely between Turco and the post to tie the game. Unlucky Breaks Tally (things that, had they not happened, would have kept Dallas from being a crumbly mess): 1.

Viktor Tikhonov and Zbynek Michalek with assists.

Brad Richards got all flustered or something? Got his second regular season penalty as a Star for holding the stick at 8:10. D’oh! Richards. Do I directly blame him for the following goal? No, but only because penalties are so rare from him. Otherwise, well, you can’t get scored on during the PK if you don’t have guys in the box to begin with.

At 9:49, Olli Jokinen, returning to the lineup for the first time since his shoulder injury, tipped a puck in past Turco from a blue line shot by Ed Jovanovski. Second assist went to Derek Morris.

However, not even a minute later (10:26), Mikkel Boedker got a holding penalty on Chris Conner and put the Stars on a critical power play.

The game was re-tied shortly after, during the consequential power play, when James Neal found himself with a puck and a partially open net. Stephane Robidas faked a shot, drawing Bryzgalov out of position, only to pass the puck to Neal, who steadied it and put it in the net.

The goal came at 10:58, with Mike Modano getting the second assist.

There were four more penalties in the first. Tikhonov got a hooking minor for the Coyotes. Andrew Hutchinson got the third delay of game penalty for the Stars. Then, Enver Lisin and Derek Morris took back-to-back cross checking penalties. Despite all the man advantages and a 5-on-3 in favor of the Stars, the score remained tied exiting the first.

Somewhere in here, Stephane Robidas took a puck/stick (I believe it is the latter, but have heard it was the former) in the mouth, leaving plenty of blood on the ice and would not return until midway through the second period. Anyone know for sure how it happened?

Second period.

Started on a power play. Then, at 3:13, got another one when Lisin got two minutes for hooking Sydor. Shockingly, the Stars did not score on their power play.

In typical Stars fashion, as two minutes is not enough time for them to convert momentum into scoring, the goal came a little bit later.

It was off another fast play from a lower line (Brunnstrom-Petersen-Conner, I believe?) that led to Conner setting up Fabian “Tiebreaker Bunny” Brunnstrom out in front of the net. And so the tie was broken. 3-2 Stars at 8:35 in the second, Conner and Sydor with the assists.

Things went pretty well for awhile after that, despite a couple untimely penalties and pathetic power plays. Trevor Daley, who saved a goal somewhere in the first by backing up Turco and clearing the puck from his crease, would eat any points he would have earned by taking a stupid penalty that changed the momentum of the game.

Basically, Daniel Carcillo, who had been in the box for knocking over Turco who totally sold it as goalie interference by being really easy to knock over, managed to sneak out of the sin bin with remarkable timing. Daley, who let Carcillo sneak up and grab the puck between him and Turco without even realizing, suddenly found himself chasing a possibly problematic breakaway. So, what did he do? He tried to chop Carcillo down like a tree by slashing him in the legs. Thus, setting up the Coyotes for a power play of their own.

Jokinen, on PP fire, made sure to punish Daley thoroughly. At 19:56 in the third, during a frantic PK that was barely holding on to their team’s lead, Marty Turco was thrown horribly out of position and left a gaping net for Jokinen, who took full advantage. Jovanovski and Mueller got the assists.

Second period ended with a major blow, and a loss of momentum not to be regained.

Third period. Mm. That fuse that the ‘Yotes lit in the second? It’d set off a big time explosion not too long after.

Only five minutes in, Turco left his crease to retrieve the puck, hitting it around the boards behind his net. As he slowwllly wannddered back to his crease, the puck bounced oddly and unfortunately off Daley’s stick. Unlucky Breaks Tally: 2. The puck hopped out eagerly in front of the net, where Martin Hanzal just so happened to be. While Matt Niskanen dived out in front of the still-empty net, Hanzal had no trouble getting it past him, and it suddenly became a chasing game again.

I timed it. Is there any reason it takes Turco 6 seconds to get from the board to his net? We saw Tobias Stephan move from the crease to the bench in about 2 seconds. Come on, Turco, would a little hustle kill you? Ergggg. Even Niskanen saw it coming and thought fast enough to try and stop it.

The goal came at 5:21 and was unassisted (and giftwrapped. Merry Christmas!).

The Stars tried to fight back unsuccessfully. Neal got a little violent and took his anger out on Carcillo, much to our delight. Carcillo, meet Neal; Carcillo, meet ice.

As the clock wound down, the Stars (very stupidly – do they watch their own PPs?) went empty net. The puck bounced through center ice soooon after, Steven Reinprecht picked it up, Robidas was the nearest Star and still all the way across the ice. He couldn’t catch up, Reinprecht has enough skill to score in an empty net, and it was 5-3 Coyotes.

Goal was at 19:36, with assists to Shane Doan and Ilya Bryzgalov.


  • Three game stars, in order: Jokinen, Neal, Hanzal
  • Despite missing a large chunk of the game getting stitched up, and spending the rest occassionally dripping blood onto the ice, Stephane Robidas led the team in TOI with 25:14.
  • Speaking of Robidas, he also tied with Toby Petersen for most SOG (4), tallied an assist, and ended the game even in +/-.
  • James Neal led the team in takeaways (3) and Grossman and Daley tied for most blocked shots with 4 each.
  • Brad Richards had the worst +/- at -3, tallied no points, and only got 1 SOG in over twenty minutes of ice time.
  • Turco stopped 29 of 33 shots for a .879 sv%.
  • Tom Wandell made his debut, but only got six minutes and did not register any points.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for tying for the lead in hits and blocked shots; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and two for a good game despite playing with a bloody mouth; +4
Trevor Daley: three for the goal, one for the goal he prevented, minus-two for the stupid penalty, and minus-two for the goal he giftwrapped; +0
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Krys Barch: two for tying for the lead in most hits; +2
Toby Petersen: two for the assist and one for an otherwise good game; +3
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: one for his debut; +1
Chris Conner: two for each assist; +4
Marty Turco: minus-two for icky savelessness; -2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: minus-one for the team worst +/- and minus-one for the rare stupid penalty; -2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


2 Comments to “Game Review – 12/10/08 (DAL vs PHX)”

  1. This was the first game I was able to attend this year; and it seemed sloppier in person than the team has looked on TV all season.

    I felt like the Stars outworked the Coyotes in the first period, and the first half of the second period, but the fell apart in the second half of the game. When things started going Phoenix’s way, the Stars seemed to give up.

    How many times did we sent the puck around the boards while entering the Coyotes zone on Bryzgalov’s right side? Why wasn’t anyone (except Peterson) pursuing with any sense of urgency? Why dump and chase, over and over and over again, if you’re not going to chase? ARGH! (It was extremely frustrating to watch.) Erikkson pursued in the first period; I’m not sure why he stopped.

    With the exception of Richards and Ribeiro, it also seemed like we stopped trying to bring the puck through the middle of their zone in the second half. Instead, we carried it into their zone along the outside boards (especially on the LW-side), and then we’d get rubbed off the puck. Ribeiro was doing well behind their net, but we couldn’t get it to him enough. Phoenix was playing the perimeters well — why did we keep attacking from there?! Especially Brunnstrom and Daley!

    Brunnstrom hasn’t displayed the hands that he’s supposed to have, but he’s been great at picking up rebounds around the net. He ought to beeline for the crease any time we get the puck into their zone; and he ought to be out there with guys who are willing to put shots on goal that can lead to rebounds. (And, for God sake: don’t let him bring the puck into their zone. It seems like he panics and loses the puck immediately.)

    We really lacked physical presence in the game too; the entire team was getting pushed around. Maybe that has something to do with Morrow, Ott, and Avery being out, but isn’t that the reason we have Barch out there? (Lord knows we aren’t using him for any other reason.) Neal and Conner (the smallest guy on our team) were the only guys throwing their bodies around.

    And Turco may have been slow to get back to the net on that second Hanzal goal, but I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Daley. (I’m a defenseman, and I’ve made the exact same mistake in a game; but I’m not getting paid millions of dollars to play, either.) Given his position, and Turco’s position, he ought to have let the puck ride the boards.

    I hate being so negative about my beloved Stars (I’d hate it if some random blog-commenter called me out, too), but there was a lot not to like in this game.

    Despite the fact that we (still) weren’t shooting on the PP, I was at least happy with our ability to control the puck in their zone. That’s a big part of what a power play unit ought to do, so there’s hope, at least. We actually attempted a handful of shots from the point, but the Coyotes did a pretty good job of blocking them.

    In my eyes, aside from the injuries (which are obviously a big factor), our biggest issue (even without Avery out there) still seems to be lack of chemistry. And who can blame the players for that when the lines change ever game? Make every defenseman play forward, and every forward play defense, and over time, we’d STILL do better! (That might be a stretch, but it illustrates my point.)

    Here’s what I want to see, given our current roster:
    Modano – Richards – Eriksson
    Parrish – Ribeiro – Brunnstrom
    Conner – Petersen – Neal
    A Modano bobble head – Wandell – Janik

    (The bobble head would replace Barch. Janik would replace Wilson. When Lehtinen and Ott return, I’d love to see Modano and Neal reunited.)

  2. Colby, first of all can I just say that we really appreciate the great comment? It’s nice to get insight from somebody who actually plays the game.

    You know, when the Stars got the first goal of the game, it gave me a lot of hope – we tend to win when that happens. But I agree that we just fell totally apart once they kept tying it up. A lot of the problems you mentioned (dumping without chasing, lack of physical game play, getting knocked off the puck way too easily) have been major problems all season. As far as Barch and the physical game goes, he doesn’t really get much ice time most games, and we’ve noticed that as soon as he fights or tries to fight, Tippett will bench him for the rest of the game. Maybe that has something to do with it? Although he did tie Grossman for most hits in this game. In any case, that doesn’t excuse the rest of the team. For a few games there, we were seeing some really good things – taking the man instead of the puck, for one. Now we’re back to not doing that. I think it’s the result of the line shuffling, like you said. I don’t understand why Tippett keeps breaking up lines that are producing but leaving together lines that are doing a whole lot of nothing.

    The lines I’d like to see, since we’re playing Russian roulette with them anyway:
    Neal – Modano – Eriksson
    Parrish – Ribeiro – Brunnstrom
    Conner – Petersen – Barch
    Wandell – Richards – Janik

    Janik replaces Wilson here, and I left Barch in because I think he can do some good things on the right line. Hate to put Richards on the 4th line, but he hasn’t been doing much offensively for us lately and he didn’t fit anywhere else. Maybe he could find some chemistry with Wandell.

    And, since our big players and top lines aren’t performing anyway, I’d love to see them roll out Brunnstrom – Neal – Eriksson for a few shifts, just for pure offensive magic. Sure, the defensive liability would be kind of high, but it would be fun to watch.

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