Archive for October, 2009

October 30, 2009

Notes and +/- (DAL vs TOR)

by Chelsea

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ribeiro, Kulemin, Richards
  • Matt Niskanen returned from his head injury in style, getting assists on both of Richards’ goals.
  • Whoever was recording hits went a little nutty, as each team was credited with 33. Brenden Morrow led all skaters with 6.
  • Brad Richards led in shots on goal with 5.
  • Richards and Ribeiro both struggled with faceoffs, winning 40% and 41% respectively.
  • Despite being outshot 10-2 in the first period, the Stars managed to get 34 shots on goal in the last two periods to match Toronto.
  • Conclusion: Last season, this game would have ended as a 4-2 defeat when the Stars pulled their goalie and had their empty net scored on in the final few minutes. That is why, despite the truly awful first period, I can say this game was still a good win. In about six minutes, they went from being down by one (0 points) to forcing overtime (1 point) to actually winning overtime (2 points!) which is not something they managed very often last year. Still, it is kind of annoying that the Stars can beat teams like Chicago and Calgary but look lost playing a team that took three weeks to get their first win.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for each assist and one for an overall solid game; +5
Brenden Morrow: two for the assist; +2
Jamie Benn: two for the assist; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for an overall solid game; +6
Marty Turco: two for the win but minus-one for staring at the rebounds he allowed instead of stopping them from getting in the net; +1
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for drawing penalties in style; +6
Brad Richards: three for each goal; +6

October 29, 2009

Weekly Picture Fantastic

by Chelsea

Welcome to the weekly picture fantastic. This week features pictures from the Stars’ practices and the most recent three games. Enjoy!


Doesn’t Skrastins remind you of Tickle Me Elmo?


Ribs, ready to brush the dirt off his shoulders.


Wandell and Grossman act out a live version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.


It was good to get B.Rich back to go against the LA Kings.


And the winner of “most awkward body positioning” goes to Tom Wandell.

As always, images are property of their respective owners.

October 27, 2009

Power Rankings Round Up

by Kristine

Dallas continues to move up the power rankings. Let’s take a look at why…

Actual rank: 9th in league; 6th in West; 3rd in Pacific.
Record: 5-2-4. L10: 5-2-3.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 14 this week; 13 last week. Snubbed by Team Canada at its Olympic orientation camp this past summer, Brad Richards has roared out of the gates with 13 points (3-10) and a plus-5 rating in nine games.“
Of Note: Anaheim at 22 this week; 20 last week. Here’s a deadly combo: 24th in offense and 27th in defense. So far, the balanced scoring we were supposed to see this season hasn’t materialized.”
My thoughts: There are plenty of people on the Stars roster with something to prove this season, and Richards is at the top of that list. Not only was he snubbed by Team Canada, he also has to carry the burden of a loaded contract and the pressure to follow up two less-than-healthy seasons. So far, he’s doing just fine proving the haters wrong. His offense is invaluable to the Stars, and the powerplay noticeably improves with him on the point. We all owe the unbalanced Ducks some thanks – for our win over them, and for Toronto’s win over them. The Leafs got their first win of the season versus them Monday night thanks to a hat trick from Nicklas Hagman, which means they won’t be coming into the AAC tomorrow night hungry for win #1.

The Hockey News
by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 11 this week; 15 last week. Marty Turco starting to hit his stride.
Of Note: Toronto at 30 this week; 30 last week. Maybe return of goalie Jonas Gustavsson can help right ship.
My thoughts: The three power ranking writers rarely agree on many things, but one thing they unanimously have been in agreement on this season is that the Maple Leafs are the league’s worst team. THN published their rankings yesterday, which means they correctly predicted Gustavsson’s return being beneficial to the team (he was in net when they beat the Ducks). With The Monster and his Leafs rolling into town tomorrow night, it’s starting to look like Dallas vs Toronto will be a goalie showdown more than anything. I predict fairly even save percentages, but with the Stars vastly out-shooting the Leafs. If THN is right, and Turco is hitting his stride at the same time our offense is finding its feet, the Stars are on their way to becoming quite the threat in the West.

TSN
Stars: 6 this week; 11 last week. Youth is being served in Dallas, too, as three of their scoring wingers — Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Jamie Benn — are all under 25. Key Injuries: C Mike Modano (ribs), D Matt Niskanen (head).”
Of Note: Buffalo at 1 this week; 6 last week. Starting goaltender Ryan Miller has yet to lose in regulation and his strong play backstops a Sabres team that may not be finishing enough, but is carrying the play, outshooting the opposition by double figures five times already. Key Injuries: None.
My thoughts: No, that is not a typo. TSN – notorious for Canadian team favoritism – has Dallas at 6th and Buffalo at 1st this week. They make a very valid point about the Stars; if it weren’t for our youth (qualifying that as TSN did, with players under 25) scoring, we would be less 17 goals and 27 assists. It’s also interesting to note that every single player under the age of 25 on the Stars roster has recorded at least one assist so far this season. Regardless of our explosion of youth scoring, the other rankers seem a little reluctant to jump on the Dallas bandwagon. TSN seems to be fully on board, which is fun, but a little odd. Last season I was continually frustrated with their lack of faith in the team. It’s nice to see them getting a bit of attention from the Canadian media. As for the Sabres, they’re sitting pretty at 3rd in the East with a 6-1-1 record so far. I chose to feature them for two reasons: they’re a team not named the Penguins who hold the first spot in a ranking, and they were in 6th last week. Can the Stars follow their lead and continue to move up?

In that vein, let’s look at the upcoming schedule. Our next three opponents are Toronto, Florida, and Nashville. If you average out the three power rankings, they are currently at 30th, 28th, and 27th respectively. The Stars are, on average, at 10th right now. On paper, we have the next six points in the bag. However, with Ott suspended until the Nashville game and a few big names already battling injuries, it would be a mistake to go into any of these games over-confident.

In any case, it’s exciting to watch the Stars move up the rankings this season after spending all last season watching them plummet. October is wrapping up, and it’s so nice to say “it’s been 10 games already” instead of “it’s only 10 games…”! Now they just have to keep getting wins and gathering points, and prove to ESPN and The Hockey News why TSN is on their bandwagon.

October 26, 2009

Chemistry by the Numbers

by Chelsea

Well, there really isn’t much to go on for the first Chemistry update of the season.

The one thing that really stood out was the Neal-Richards-Eriksson line. Despite how much Richards is producing, the numbers say it’s Loui Eriksson as MVP for that trio. He’s got 16 chem. points with Neal and 17 with Richards. Richards and Neal together only have 10. My guess is that Loui is getting himself in front of the net for deflections and rebounds off of Neal’s shots (Neal has the first assist for 3/5 of Eriksson’s goals).

For the Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line, it’s really no surprise to find Morrow and Ribeiro clicking again. They have 14 chem. points, compared to 7 each with Benn. It’s also not surprising to see that Ribeiro has the primary assist for 3/6 of Morrow’s goals. Benn has most of his chem. points through his five secondary assists, all of them on Ribeiro or Morrow goals.

There are only two other numbers that stand out.

One of them is Stephane Robidas’ 6 chem. points with Brad Richards, the most of any defenseman with any other player.

The other is Fabian Brunnstrom and Tom Wandell, who also have 6 chem. points. This is mostly notable because Brunnstrom has the primary assist on Wandell’s only two goals. In fact, each of Brunnstrom’s 4 assists are primary, the best primary-secondary ratio on the team.

The chart (confusing, I know), with chem. totals above 6 highlighted:

Here is a link to the Intro to Chemistry post for anyone that missed it: 🙂

October 26, 2009

Steve Ott Punished

by Chelsea

Looks like Ott will be having a hearing tomorrow to discuss his check on Carlo Colaiacovo. Personally, I think the only dirty hit of that game was Ott’s on BJ Crombeen, which was penalized in the game. I also think there have been a number of iffy hits recently across the league, including a very questionable hip check by Rob Scuderi, and the NHL needs to set a precedence for looking into plays where players get injured.

Hopefully the only thing that comes out of this is Ott realizes he needs to slow the goon act a bit.

Update:

Ott has been suspended for two games. The official release is here. He will be eligible to play again on Oct. 31 against Nashville.

There is a quote from Stars captain Brenden Morrow at Andrew’s (link) that sums it up very nicely.

October 25, 2009

Notes and +/-

by Chelsea

For games 10 and 11 for the Dallas Stars, there really wasn’t much to say, hence the lack of actual game review.

Notes (DAL @ LAK):

  • The three game stars, in order: Kopitar, Neal, Handzus
  • The Stars were down 4-1 entering the third, but forced overtime thanks to goals from Benn, Fistric, and Neal.
  • Mark Fistric’s goal was his first NHL goal.
  • Benn has now scored in both games against the Kings.
  • Stars power play continued to struggle, unable to cash in on 4 chances in the first two periods.
  • Steve Ott lead in hits with 6.
  • The only forward to block a single shot was Loui Eriksson.
  • Conclusion: It was rather nice to get the extra point, but giving the Kings 4 out of the available 4 points in the two games so far this season is not.

SHR +/- (DAL @ LAK):

Stephane Robidas: minus-one for kind of a rough game; -1
Jamie Benn: three for the goal; +3
James Neal: three for each goal; +6
Loui Eriksson: two for each assist; +4
Mark Fistric: three for the goal and one for the celebration; +4
Steve Ott: one for being Steve Ott; +1
Alex Auld: minus-one for kind of a rough game; -1
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for not being able to win a faceoff; -1
Brad Richards: two for each assist; +4

Notes (DAL @ STL):

  • The three game stars, in order: Turco, Eriksson, Neal
  • Krys Barch, Brian Sutherby, and Steve Ott each had a fight. None of them really won.
  • Ott had the Blues very distracted, drawing 6 minor penalties.
  • The Blues also took 4 roughing and 2 cross checking minors, along with a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
  • The Stars, meanwhile, took 1 roughing, 1 unsportsmanlike conduct, 1 cross checking and 1 kneeing penalty.
  • Both teams also had a small handful of hooking minors.
  • In all of that, only one power play goal was scored.
  • Jeff Woywitka got his first point with the Stars against his old team. However, he also unintentionally aided the Blues in ruining Turco’s shutout. Oops.
  • Toby Petersen lead the team with 5 shots on goal.
  • Conclusion: It was a messy game and the Stars could have blown out the Blues had it not been for Conklin’s 21 saves in the first two periods. Despite the penalty madness, it was maybe the best three consecutive periods of hockey Dallas has managed all season.

SHR +/- (DAL @ STL):

Brenden Morrow: one determination point for trying to score regardless of where the puck was (like on top of the net) or the play having already been blown dead; +1
Krys Barch: one for the fight but minus-one for losing it; +0
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and one for the fight; +4
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist, one for playing so physically that it completely changed the momentum of the game but minus-one for kneeing Crombeen; +2
Marty Turco: two for no mas Taco; +2
Jeff Woywitka: two for the assist but minus-one for helping score on Turco; +1
Brad Richards: two for each assist; +4
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for earning it by getting run over by St. Louis players; +3

October 22, 2009

Artyukhin Suspended

by Chelsea

The NHL has decided to suspend Evgeny Artyukhin for slew-footing Matt Niskanen. As no penalty was called on the play, it seems likely that someone spoke up and brought it to the league’s attention, and it’s nice to see them take action.

Anaheim forward Evgeny Artyukhin has been suspended for three games without pay by the National Hockey League as the result of a slew-footing (see rule) incident against Dallas Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen, who was injured on the play.

The incident occurred at 4:23 of the second period of Dallas’ 4-2 win at Anaheim on Wednesday night. No penalty was assessed on the play.

Artyukhin, who was suspended for two games Jan. 19, 2009, now is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Accordingly, Artyukhin forfeits $34,756.11 in salary based on the number of games (82) in a season, rather than the number of days (193). The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Artyukhin will miss Saturday’s game against Columbus, Oct. 26 against Toronto and Oct. 30 against Vancouver. He will be eligible to return Oct. 31 at Phoenix.

October 22, 2009

Game Review – 10/21/09 (DAL @ ANA)

by Chelsea

Game:

Continuing their new habit of stealing wins on the road, the Stars roared into Anaheim and whipped up on some zombie Ducks for the better part of two periods. It was a relief for Dallas fans to see the other team sleepwalking after that slight embarrassment against the Kings.

They gained a lead late in the first with a great shift from Wandell’s line. The rookie center moved up in between James Neal and Loui Eriksson, who both seemed to be struggling to create offense without Brad Richards. The goal itself was classic Eriksson, who was fighting for position in the crease and  found space to shove Neal’s rebound past Jonas Hiller.

The pressure continued in the second period, when Stars fans were treated to a flash of the Ribeiro-Morrow brilliance that was sorely missing last season. It happened when Hiller attempted to play the puck, only to have his pass intercepted by Ribeiro, who proceeded to immediately slide it straight to Brenden Morrow. The entire play was so quick and effortless that Hiller couldn’t even recover before the puck was in the net.

Moments later, Evgeny Artyukhin pulled a very cheap move on defenseman Matt Niskanen, kicking his feet out from under him mid-check. As a result, Niskanen’s head hit the ice as he landed. Despite getting up on his own, he left the game and is now out with a head injury.

Not only did the officials neglect to call a penalty on the play, they called a crosschecking penalty on Sutherby when he tried to hold Artyukhin accountable for his actions.

Dallas responded by killing off that penalty and breaking their power play drought on the next Anaheim penalty. This one was thanks to Trevor Daley, who found his sweet spot in the high circle and whipped a shot past Hiller.

Despite stepping off the gas and allowing goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Joffrey Lupul, the Stars held onto their lead thanks to some hard work by Marty Turco. He stopped 13 of 14 third period shots and did not allow the Ducks to tie it. When they pulled their goalie, Ott was able to seal the win with an empty net goal.

Notes:

  • The three homertastic game stars, in order: Wisniewski, Eriksson, Getzlaf
  • Our three stars: Eriksson, Ott, Hiller
  • The game was Morrow’s 600th career game (all with the Stars), so it was fitting that #10 scored the goal that moved him into the 10th spot on all-time Stars goalscoring. Congrats!
  • Despite a somewhat slow start, Eriksson is on pace to score 36 goals again this season.
  • If Morrow were to stay scoring goals at the same pace he’s at, he’d breach 50 by the end of the season.
  • Nicklas Grossman continues to lead the league in +/-.
  • More Anaheim homerism: the Ducks outhit the Stars 30-11. Steve Ott was only credited with 2 hits, when he almost certainly had more than that in the first period alone.
  • Mark Fistric and Jamie Benn were the only Stars to have more than 1 blocked shot, with 3 and 2 respectively.
  • Francis Wathier, playing in his NHL debut, looked solid and got a good fight in against Mike Brown.
  • Conclusion: A good win. Came very close to stringing together 3 periods of solid play. Getting Ott back was big, and it was nice to see more than one line creating chances.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for an overall good game; +3
Matt Niskanen: one angry upset concerned point; +1
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal and one congrats! point; +4
Krys Barch: one for the fight; +1
Toby Petersen: one for looking solid in the third period when the rest of the team was struggling; +1
James Neal: two for each assist; +4
Brian Sutherby: two for trying to stick up for Niskanen but minus-one for being kinda meh otherwise; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: two for the assist; +2
Mark Fistric: one for a solid overall game; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Marty Turco: one for playing well overall and one for somehow registering a shot on goal; +2
Karlis Skrastins: minus-one for kinda having a rough game; -1
Francis Wathier: one for the fight; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for winning 14 out of 21 faceoffs; +3

October 21, 2009

Weekly Picture Fantastic

by Chelsea

This week’s Picture Fantastic covers from the 14th to today, and features the best images of the best moments in Stars hockey.

A happy captain only means good things for the Stars, who beat the Predators 6-0.

Marty Turco bein’ Marty Turco earned him his first shutout of the season.

Stars celebrate an accidental goal on Huet that resulted from an attempt by Robidas to rim the puck along the boards.

Just too funny not to share.

Check out that ‘A’!

Have a favorite picture you want to share? Leave a comment!

As always, images are property of their respective owners.

October 20, 2009

Game Review – 10/19/09 (DAL vs LAK)

by Chelsea

Game:

Well, when I started to write this immediately following the game, the only thought I had was “Boooooo.”

It was a pretty disappointing loss for the Stars’ first game against a divisional opponent. We were at the game, and by the end of it, we were sitting there seeing if we could count all the players we weren’t annoyed at on one hand. We could. Easily.

So here you go:

  • Mike Ribeiro: Wore the ‘A’ with Lehtinen, Richards, Modano, and Ott out. He wore it well. His attitude about taking a step towards becoming more of a leader (as he told Razor about during intermission) was great.
  • Brenden Morrow: Nifty pass to set up Benn in the first. Some nice hits later in the game. It’s too bad the rest of the team didn’t pick up on his energy.
  • Jamie Benn: He had his share of turnovers, but without him, the game is another 3-0 shutout.
  • Alex Auld: Sat on the bench really well. No turnovers or anything!
  • Karlis Skrastins: Think about how you felt when Sydor came out to kill a penalty and compare it to how you feel when Skrastins is on the ice PKing. Yeah.

On the other hand, there were some not-so-pleasant things, like:

  • Stars power play giving us all a headache. Just because Toby Petersen rocked the point in Iowa forever ago doesn’t mean he works there in the NHL.
  • Ribeiro and Wandell totally forgetting how to win a faceoff.
  • The top defensive pairing sitting in the box together while the Stars try to kill off a 5-on-3. Then..
  • Getting scored on with only 7 seconds of penalty kill left. Ouch.
  • Matt Niskanen, Tom Wandell, and Fabian Brunnstrom’s -2.
  • Trevor Daley leading defensemen in giveaways. Brunnstrom and Benn are relatively new at this. What’s Daley’s excuse for making rookie mistakes?
  • Us going from “James Neal is a BEAST” to actually wishing the team could afford to bench him for a few shifts to try and wake him up. Zombie Neal is not effective.
  • Marty Turco’s handful of irritating moments, like every time he made us panic over his puckhandling on the PK.

All things considered, it was still only one game and they have a chance to redeem themselves Wednesday and Thursday.

One thing I was wondering about after the game though is why the team doesn’t seem able to win in front of Turco. In realizing that he is 1-2-3 (5 of 12 available points) compared to Auld’s 2-0-0 (4 of 4 points), and knowing they have almost equal stats, it is hard not to wonder what the difference is.

With a little investigating, I discovered this:

The average time between goals Auld has allowed is right under 17 minutes. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a goal in the first period of either of his starts, and the shortest time between two goals allowed was approximately 11 minutes. He also has not allowed a goal when the Stars had anything less than a 2-goal lead.

Not to say that all of his goals against were great or even okay, but there’s something to be said for timely saves.

In comparison, Turco’s average time between goals is barely over 12 minutes, a time that seems to be decreasing (down from appr. 16 minutes apart in his first 3 starts) with each game. He has not allowed two goals further apart than 10 minutes in his last two starts, the closest together being less than 3 minutes apart. He’s allowed a goal in the first period in 4 of his 6 starts.

Maybe most importantly, 14 of the 15 goals against Turco have come when the game is close (5 allowed the opposition to tie it, 6 allowed them to break the tie, and 3 gave them a 2-goal lead.) That’s all but the second Savard goal, which gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

It will be interesting to revisit this idea once Auld has more than 2 starts to consider.

Also: What is up with Richards being so delicate in Dallas? Mono, shoulder problems, a broken hand, a broken wrist, and now a sore groin? That trade must have irritated some hockey gods somewhere, because he’s had maybe 2 games here fully healthy.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Smyth, Williams, Quick
  • Perttu Lindgren played in his first NHL game and, like Aaron Gagnon, did absolutely nothing and has since been reassigned to Texas.
  • Brenden Morrow led the team with 6 hits. Mark Fistric had 5 and Stephane Robidas had 4.
  • Jamie Benn might have had 2 giveaways, but he also led the team with 3 takeaways.
  • Ribeiro led the team in blocked shots with 3. The only other skaters to block any shots were Woywitka (1) and Skrastins (2).
  • Ribeiro also had 3 hits, including a rather impressive one on Matt Greene in the third period.
  • The Stars recap says this: “Defenseman Nicklas Grossman picked up an assist on Benn’s goal, extending his points streak to a career-high tying four games.” For anyone wondering how that’s possible given that the Stars got shut out 3 games ago… I don’t know either.
  • Conclusion: You don’t make it to the playoffs by losing important games. Hopefully we’ll see more of the Games 1-5 Stars on this upcoming road trip than the Games 6-8 Stars.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist but minus-one for the penalties; +1
Brenden Morrow: two for the assist and one for being totally awesome; +3
Jamie Benn: three for the goal; +3
Marty Turco: 🙂 but then :(; +0
Jeff Woywitka: minus-one because he’s done less in five games than decent players do in one; -1
Mike Ribeiro: one for being totally awesome; +1