Archive for March, 2009

March 30, 2009

Tobias Stephan In Net Tonight

by Kristine

Mike Heika is reporting that Tobias Stephan will be getting the start tonight. The game is airing nationally on Versus, which – let’s face it – is a little bit scary. It’s a chance for Stephan to prove himself, and for the Stars to stop their slide. However, everyone knows that the Yotes have had our number this season. If the Stars win, it will be huge.

Heika’s report on Stephan, the defensive pairings, and the line combos for tonight’s game can be found here.

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March 24, 2009

Couple Notes

by Chelsea

Twittering the game tonight.

Also, Oilers have an interesting article up, going over the teams in the race for the last few Western playoff spots. It is written around what the Oilers need to get a spot, but still gives some good info about all the other teams.

Like the fact that they’re all playing tonight. 

If you’re interested, the article is here, complete with a downloadable spreadsheet to help you keep track of the race.

March 24, 2009

SHR +/-: 3/21/09 (DAL at SJS)

by Chelsea

Since neither of us actually saw this game (and consequentially forgot to do the +/-), if anyone would like to add something we missed, please comment. 
 

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Brendan Morrison: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Jere Lehtinen: because he’s awesome; +2
Steve Ott: two for the assist and one for leading in hits; +3
Marty Turco: minus-one for letting in four goals; -1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist, one for leading the entire team in TOI, but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +2

March 22, 2009

Richards Out Indefinitely, Stars Recall Wandell

by Kristine

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the official word from Dave Tippett is that Brad Richards has a spiral fracture in a bone in his hand and is out indefinitely.

Andrew’s is reporting today that the Stars have, as expected, recalled center Tom Wandell. His season with the Swedish Elite League ended last month as his team lost in the first round of the playoffs.

The Stars haven’t announced either of these things on their official page, but I expect to see Richards placed on IR shortly.

Finally, Mike Heika has a post up about the complications that have arisen from trying to move an AHL team to Austin to become the Texas Stars.

March 21, 2009

NHL Overall Team +/- Examination

by Kristine

The Stars take on the Sharks tonight, but before they do I’d just like to point something out. Everyone knows that +/- doesn’t tell the whole story. However, I think it does tell some of the story. For example, check out what you find when you compare the overall team +/- score for the top five and bottom five teams in the league, with the Stars thrown in the middle…

1. DET   +177
2. SJS   +112
3. BOS   +281
4. NJD   +218
5. WSH   +110

21. DAL   -40

26. PHX    -163
27. COL   -188
28. ATL   -93
29. TBL   -148
30. NYI   -220

Obviously a team’s overall +/- is more related to the success of the team than people may realize.

Last season the Stars ended +85 and 8th in the league. In an even more drastic change, Colorado ended +73 and 10th in the league. First place Detroit ended +235 and last place Tampa ended -148. 21st place went to the Cancucks, who finished the season with a +2. Of course, there are anomonlies, almost entirely on the negative side – the Sharks finished second in the league last season, but with a -3; the Oilers finished with a horrid -156 but managed to pull 19th place overall. However, the basic trend is that the higher in the standings a team is, the better its plus-minus is going to be, and vice versa. So is having a strong team plus-minus the key to regular season success? I don’t claim to know for sure either way, but it’s an interesting stat to take into account.

March 19, 2009

Game Review – 3/17/09 (DAL at VAN) and 3/18/09 (DAL at CGY)

by Kristine

Games:

I’m going to try to keep this simple. We lost both these games, and there’s been a lot of talk about why that is. The blame game can be played in many ways here. You could start back at the beginning, and blame Hull for signing Avery. You could also blame Avery for being Avery and not fitting in. You could blame Turco for his world of suck earlier in the season. You could blame Tippett for not keeping lines together. You could blame Jackson for not upgrading our blue line at the trade deadline. If you really wanted to, you could put some blame on Fabian Brunnstrom for not being willing to spend a year in the minors. You could put a bit of blame on Matt Niskanen for being young and not as solid defensively as he could be. Actually if you’re going to go that far, you could probably find some blame to put on just about every single player on the ice and most of the office to boot.

Here’s the thing. It’s just not that simple. You can’t boil it down to “the season sucked because of this player or that person.” It’s been a huge combination of things. Did Avery’s signing contribute to the problems? Yes, I think that’s been made clear. Did Turco’s bad season hurt? Obviously it did. Beyond that, Tippett has done the best he can with the one thing that’s made the biggest impact: injuries.

Look at this list of players who are currently injured: Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Mike Modano, Brad Richards, Steve Begin, Brian Sutherby, Toby Petersen. Four huge names, two important grit guys, and Petersen. Going back in time, add to that list players who have spent (relatively) significant amounts of time injured: Jere Lehtinen, Steve Ott, Stephane Robidas, Fabian Brunnstrom, Landon Wilson, Joel Lundqvist, Mark Parrish. Another impressive list. In fact, it would almost be easier to name the players who have been healthy this season. Off the top of my head? Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, Krys Barch, and our young D. Oh, and Sydor and Morrison. Chris Conner has been healthy, but he would be in the AHL if we weren’t so short on bodies. Same with Hutchinson as he’s been scratched for ages now. Is it any wonder we’ve been losing? Ribs and Loui are fantastic but as we’ve seen lately, they can’t be expected to carry the entire team for the rest of the season.

Because we’ve been battling the Injury Gods all season, the pressure has been on Tippett to keep the playoff dream alive. His solution has been to play intense, playoff-level hockey since about the end of December, and we’re starting to see the result of that. The Stars are exhausted. The past few weeks have been proof of that. Sure, we’ve won the odd game here and there and yes, players are still having great nights here and there. But overall, they look worn out and beaten down. I don’t blame them one bit. I will admit that I do somewhat blame Tippett for pushing them until they have nothing left to give, although I do understand why he did it. He was doing his best to keep his team running, and for a while it worked. The Stars went on that great run in January and early February, but within a few weeks were back to losing. Richards breaking his wrist seemed to be the metaphorical nail in the tire and they’ve been deflating ever since.

There are eleven games left in this season. If the Stars make the playoffs, that’s another at least four games. Can they continue to play at the level they’ve been playing at for that long? I don’t believe they can. Mike Ribeiro and Stephane Robidas are playing nearly 30 minutes a night, and it shows. Mike Modano is out with a lower body injury after the Vancouver game, and I’m sure his injury is made worse by the total fatigue his body must be experiencing. Same with Sutherby leaving last night’s game. How much longer until Robi, Ribs, and Loui push themselves too far and wind up on our laundry list of injured players? We can offer sacrifices and prayers to the Injury Gods all we want, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see them hurt.

The Stars are in 10th in the West now. At this point, take the pressure off. Stop playing the high level of hockey, let the young guys take bigger minutes and rest the top line guys, and see what happens. I would think the health of the team would more important than making the playoffs, especially if you’re making them with a roster that reads like an AHL team’s anyway.

SHR +/-:

DAL at VAN (3/1709)
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one pity point for playing almost half the game with an exhausting 27:35; +2
Matt Niskanen: one for leading in SOG and one for a very solid game; +2
Mike Modano: two for the assist but minus one for the team-high four giveaways; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, one for the two huge takeaways in the first and one for having a very good game overall; +5
Chris Conner: two for the assist and one for being willing to hit when nobody else is; +3
Jere Lehtinen: one yay you’re back point and one for making magic with anyone and everyone; +2
Mark Fistric: one for playing a very physical game; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal, one for leading in hits with five and one for drawing penalties left and right even if nobody could capitalize on the PP; +5
Marty Turco: one for making some huge saves at critical times; +1
Steve Begin: one for winning a team-best 40% of his faceoffs and two pity points for that huge hit he took; +3
Darryl Sydor: one for the solid game; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist, one for playing almost half the game with 27:19, and one pity point for how exhausted he must be; +3

DAL at CGY (3/18/09)
Nicklas Grossman: one for doing the most banging in corners with four hits; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for tying for most SOG with three; +3
Matt Niskanen: one for tying for most SOG with three and one for being strong on the PK; +2
Trevor Daley: one for leading in TOI with 24:47, one for tying for most SOG with three, and one for thinking quickly enough to give Turco his stick and take Ott’s for himself; +3
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal, but minus one for leading the team with three giveaways and minus-one for winning only 27% of his faceoffs; +1
Krys Barch: one because I’d rather have him in the lineup than certain others; +1
James Neal: minus-one for coming off a great game and doing absolutely nothing; -1
Brian Sutherby: one for winning 50% of his faceoffs when nobody else could win any and one “please don’t be hurt” point; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for tying for most blocked shots with four; +3
Mark Fistric: one for being the only D to end in the positive and one for upending Olli Jokinen in front of the net; +2
Steve Ott: one for the fight, one for not losing it, but minus-one for picking it to begin with; +1
Marty Turco: one for not sucking; +1
Darryl Sydor: one for tying for most blocked shots with four; +1

March 18, 2009

Game Day News Links

by Kristine

To help you kill some time before the late-starting game tonight, here are a few links and stories from the past couple of days.

Our very own Loui Eriksson has been featured on Pierre LeBrun’s blog on ESPN.com. Thanks to Andrew’s for the link.

Also, if you missed it, check out this video of Loui on BaD Radio on The Ticket. Some of it is pure gold.

Richard Durrett at the Dallas Morning News reports that the first goal of the game last night has been changed. James Neal will now get credit for it. It is his 23rd of the season, putting him tied with Bobby Ryan for first in rookie scoring. The stats will be updated tonight, although it appears that NHL.com’s rookie page has already been updated.

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy has an article about Sean Avery and what the whole mess says about the Stars. It mostly just quotes Heika’s post about it, but it’s worth a look.

The Stars have announced another Dr Pepper StarCenter. This one will be at Craig Ranch in McKinney and is scheduled to open in October. The official release is here.

Finally, I’ll be hanging out on Twitter during the game tonight so feel free to join me over there!

March 17, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time to check out the weekly power rankings. This week, I’ll be taking a look at the playoff race in the West.

Actual rank: 18th in league; 8th in West; 2nd in Pacific.
Record: 33-28-8. L10: 4-5-1. Points: 74.

Andrew’s by Mark Stepneski
Stars: 16 this week; 18 last week. “The Stars’ top line of Steve Ott, Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson are carrying the offensive load right now. Key road trip to Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose this week.”
Of Note: Detroit Red Wings at 2 this week; 3 last week. “The Red Wings are on a 3-0-1 run and have hit the 100-point mark for the ninth straight season.”
My thoughts: While the Stars have been busy fighting for that 8th seed, the Wings have been busy becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. As the standings sit as I write this, that makes them our first-round match-up. I actually feel pretty good about that. The Stars have played very well against the Wings this season, 6-1 loss at the Joe aside. Plus, Turco finally won at the Joe earlier this year, which hopefully would boost his confidence should we find ourselves facing them to kick off the post-season.

ESPN by Joy Russo
Stars: 21 this week; 21 last week. The Stars are 7-for-64 on the power play since playing their first game without Brad Richards (broken wrist) on Feb. 19.
Of Note: San Jose Sharks at 4 this week; 5 last week. “Evgeni Nabokov returns and the Sharks win two straight games.”
My thoughts: The Sharks win two straight – and become the second team to clinch a playoff spot. If the Stars keep hovering between 7th and 8th, and the Sharks and Wings keep battling it out for 1st and 2nd, chances are good that we’ll face the Sharks in the first round. This is another match-up I like. Sharks fans are already worried about their team choking in the post-season, the Stars have played hard and well against the Sharks this season (even if the scores didn’t always reflect that), and we should get a bit of a confidence boost from knowing that we”re the ones who booted the Sharks out of the playoffs last season. ESPN makes a good point about our special teams, but with Richards already doing full practices, the outlook for our PP isn’t as bleak as it seems. Richards back on the point will help that dismal 7-for-64 record a lot.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 18 this week; 22  last week. “Coach Dave Tippett may have found something putting Brendan Morrison on the right side with center Mike Modano.”
Of Note: Chicago Blackhawks at 15 this week;  10 last week. “Starting to feel like a first round playoff win will be tough, especially if they line up against Vancouver.”
My thoughts: If there’s one spot I really hope we don’t end up in, it’s the 5th seed lining up against the 4th place Hawks. I think it goes without saying that meeting them in the post-season would likely be a disaster. To be entirely honest, I hope THN is right and that Vancouver knocks them out for us so we don’t have to deal with them at all in the playoffs. THN also touches on Tippett’s movement of Morrison to Mo’s wing, something Heika talks about today on his blog. With Lehtinen on the other side, where does that leave James Neal? Him and Mo have both played their best hockey this season when on a line together, but they’ve also both found chemistry with other lines. I think our post-season success will be based largely on whatever line chemistry Tippett manages to create. Obviously Ott-Ribs-Louibot is lethal, but I’ve also liked Neal-Sutherby-Bunny and yes, Lehts-Mo-Morrison (which I’m counting based purely on the fact that even though he hasn’t actually played there yet, Lehts will improve Mo and Morrison’s chemistry because that’s what he does).

TSN
Stars: 23 this week;  22 last week. A good sign for the Stars is that LW Loui Eriksson, who was expected to see his production slip since Brad Richards’ injury, has shown he can get it done anyway, scoring 11 points in the last eight games. Key Injuries: C Brad Richards (wrist), RW Jere Lehtinen (upper body).
Of Note: Nashville Predators at 19 this week; 14 last week. “Losing three of four, to go with the No. 1 centre being sidelined, knocks the Preds down, but they are still in that playoff mix, tied for the last spot in the West. Key Injuries: C Jason Arnott (upper body).
My thoughts: TSN continues to hate the Stars, moving usdown a spot even as they compliment our leading goal-scorer. That aside, valid point. Loui is a point powerhouse for us and his consistent production is one of the key reasons we’re still in the mix despite our six-game slide. The Preds are in a similiar situation as they’ve gone 2-2-1 in their L5. They’re currently trying to swing back up with two wins in their last two games, and it’s put them at one point ahead of the Stars in the 7th seed. Add the Oilers’ 73 points to the mix, and you’ve got a real battle for the last two seeds.

What do you think? Who would you most and least want to face in the first round, and why?

March 15, 2009

SHR +/- 3/14/09 (DAL vs MIN)

by Kristine

Nicklas Grossman: three for the goal, one for being so excited to score it, one for catching Robi’s flying leap into his arms, but minus-one for the PK issues that led to the Wild’s PPG; +4

Stephane Robidas: one for playing a team-high 27:26 and still ending the game +2, one for tying most SOG with four, and one for the flying leap into Grossman’s arms; +3

Trevor Daley: two for having a great defensive game; +2

Mike Modano:
one for coming out with his skates on fire and one for yet again forgetting he’s supposed to be “old”; +2

Brendan Morrison:
one for winning all four of his faceoffs since that’s what he’s supposed to be good at and one for making such an effort to fit in with the team; +2

James Neal:
one for showing that he’s still a big puck-pursuing puppy with four takeaways; +1

Brian Sutherby:
one for tying most hits with five; +1

Loui Eriksson:
two for each assist and one for being aware of where his linemates are at all times; +7

Landon Wilson:
one for hard work and a good game; +1

Chris Conner:
one for hard work and a good game; +1

Mark Fistric:
minus-one for the unneccessary penalty; -1

Steve Ott:
three for each goal and one for tying most SOG with four; +7

Marty Turco:
two for giving up nothing but the post in the third but minus one for not locking it down earlier; +1

Joel Lundqvist:
minus-one for doing basically nothing at a time when he should be trying to prove his worth to the team; -1

Steve Begin:
one for tying most hits with five; +1

Mike Ribeiro:
two for each assist, one for tying his career high with a seven-game point streak, and one for winning 61% of his faceoffs, including the one that sent Grossman his game-winner; +6

March 15, 2009

No Game Reviews

by Chelsea

Not for a little while anyway. 

I’m going on vacation for a week and won’t have any internet. Kristine’ll still be here and will be doing everything we normally do (including the +/-), but I think work will keep her from being able to do full reviews.

Unfortunately this includes last night’s game, what with packing and leaving in the morning and all. It’d basically just say “Yay Otter! Yay Loui! Boo Koivu, boo Brunette! Yay Turco! Yay posts! Boo OT, yay Grossman!” though.

Anyway, have a good week, and go Stars!

– Chelsea