Game Review – 2/03/09 (DAL vs CGY)

by Chelsea

Mr. Clever Clown Holds A Meeting: 

 It was a typical morning in Calgary, and Mr. Clever Clown and his teammates were preparing for their hockey game that night. Some sort of inspiration struck Mr. Clever Clown and he called over cameras and reporters and media and press until their attention was all his. 

His teammates and coach didn’t know what to expected as they gathered around, only that Mr. Clever Clown had previously displayed a penchant for troublesome behavior. As all tuned in for his impromptu press conference, he shocked his audience with a most vulgar phrase. 

While viewers quickly deciphered “sloppy seconds”, Commissioner Gary Bettman scrambled to shield his daughter from the statement as he mashed his “Insta-Suspension” panic button. The footage was promptly distributed across the internet, where his choice of words gained immediate infamy. Instead of playing in that evening’s game, Mr. Clever Clown was issued hockey’s version of a restraining order. Without his detrimental presence, his suddenly  ex-team thrived and persevered to a 3-1 win, signaling the start of their climb out of the league basement.

The Sans-Sean Era:

Though it was only a matter of days until word began to leak out about Sean Avery’s unwillingness to cooperate and be sociable with the team, his absence had a much more immediate effect. The Stars won their game in Calgary looking visibly relieved, the most notable play being that of goaltender Marty Turco. He made a season-high 36 saves to keep the Flames at only one goal, demonstrating a focus that we hadn’t seen since the spring playoff run.

The win marked the beginning of what we like to call the Sans-Sean Era. It bookmarked the beginning of their much-improved December month in which Dallas climbed out of the basement and back into playoff contention. More importantly, though, the Stars seemed to enjoy playing again. 

Though they started that game against the Flames on December 2nd in the lead, they reached a point early in the third in which the October or November Stars would have conceded momentum when the other team scored to tie the game. Instead, they dug in their heels and came out with the resolve needed to net another two goals and win the game 3-1. 

Now we see the end of the Sans-Sean Era as it closes with a mirror-image game against the Flames. The score again ended 3-1 in the Stars’ favor, and they again showed the resolve necessary to overcome what could have been a deflating goal and lock it down before they could score another. The win came at the end of a five-game win streak this time, almost exactly two months after the first one.

This time, instead of reading about Sean Avery’s suspension in the following days, Stars fans were reading about Avery’s release from his therapy program when it was announced that he’d be cleared to play and put on waivers. Instead of wondering whether his removal from the team would lead to improvement, they can look back on the results and know that it did. 

During the two months after the Avery incident, the Stars continued to improve, rising all the way out of the worst spot in the league into the top half. The constant line-shuffling has since stopped, and the current match-ups have built an impressive chemistry. Also impressive is the improved play of Turco, whose only goal against during the January 3rd Calgary game was during the Flames’ first power play. 

While it’s debatable whether or not it was actually Avery being a cancer removed or just the team bonding in the face of adversity, the fact is that he isn’t even being allowed to return and skate or work out with the team. That alone speaks volumes.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Turco, Kiprusoff, Richards
  • The Stars outshot the Flames 32-25. 
  • Jere Lehtinen, James Neal, and Brad Richards each scored. Richards and Neal each also had an assist. Loui Eriksson, Steve Ott, Matt Niskanen, and Mike Ribeiro all also had an assist.
  • Ribeiro, Ott, and Lehtinen all continued five-game point streaks.
  • The power play scored twice, going 2-for-5. The PK was 2-for-3.
  • Conclusion: No matter the reason or cause, the Stars are playing like Stars again. Jere Lehtinen is back to being healthy Lehtinen again. Steve Ott continued doing his best Brenden Morrow impression, filling in for him on the line that was so lethal in the spring. Turco has stopped impersonating Vesa Toskala and started acting like Turco again. Now the key is all in the consistency. 

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: one for delivering a second-best five hits; +1
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: one for winning 75% of his faceoffs; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for leading in SOG; +6
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for leading in blocked shots; +3 
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist and one for leading in hits; +3
Marty Turco: three for the good game; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for the assist, but minus-one for leading in GV; +4

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