Game Review – 10/06/09 (DAL @ EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars kicked off their first road trip of the season with a game in Edmonton, looking to claim their first victory after falling in the shootout to the Predators.

Games between the Stars and Oilers are always exciting, and this one did not disappoint. Fans were treated to a good old-fashioned battle of the goalies, with each netminder fighting to be the first to give their own fanbase a collective heart attack.

On one end was Nikolai Khabibulin, who consistently tried to thwart his own attempt at being the first Russian goaltender to reach 300 wins. On the other was Marty Turco, waving precariously between making last season look like a fluke and making Stars fans everywhere punch their TVs in frustration.

All of this was only amplified by two teams whose defense sometimes struggled to look coherent over the course of the game. Players for both sides repeatedly found themselves with plenty of free space in front of the net, giving them time to set up a shot or jam in rebounds. For the Stars, it was the defensemen who let their goalie down. For the Oilers, it was their forwards with some very nasty turnovers.

In the end, Khabibulin skated off with the win after his post stopped Neal in the shootout. As a result, Dallas fans are once again split over the play of Marty Turco. Did he get the Stars an extra point in each of the first two games, or did he cost them wins? Is he past his prime? Is he just finding his form? Do we panic?

This is why, instead of a typical game review, today’s is more of a goal breakdown.

The first goal of the game was on the Oilers’ first power play, scored by Mike Comrie:

This one had a lot to do with Robidas letting Comrie set up shop in front of Turco for half a century while he skated around watching Skrastins and Cogliano play. Unfortunately, Turco was watching the exact same thing and didn’t seem to notice in time that Cogliano was tossing the puck out in front. Skrastins failed to stop the pass, and it was in the net before Turco really even reacted.

Verdict: Someone on that PK needed to be paying attention to Comrie. That includes Turco. 5/10 on the Turco’s Fault? Meter.

The Stars then scored twice, the second time due largely to Turco springing James Neal on a SH breakaway.

However, that same PK that saw Neal scoring also saw the Oilers scoring. This time it was Sam Gagner.


That’s Gagner up in the corner, using Trevor Daley as a screen. The puck went right between Daley’s legs, then right through Turco’s. It was a rather impressive shot, and I bet Gagner is very good at miniature golf (right through the windmill for a hole-in-one!), but a slow-to-close five-hole is something Stars fans saw all too often last season.

Verdict: Daley is not exactly the largest screen, so a bigger goalie might have been able to see well enough to see the shot. However, it was still a very well-aimed goal on Gagner’s part. 5/10.

Towards the end of the period, the Stars regained their one goal lead only to promptly lose it. Again.

That is Dustin Penner. All alone. Nobody behind Turco to pass the puck to. That’s Woywitka and Ribeiro playing defense there. Ribeiro looks like he’s trying to cut off passing lanes and Woywitka is… cutting off more passing lanes. Penner, forced to retreat or shoot, shoots. For some unknown reason, Turco decides that’s a good time to drop and open up the entire half of the net.

Verdict: It seemed like Turco was expecting Woywitka to take the body so he was preparing to grab the puck. Still, he probably should have just held his ground instead of dropping so quickly. Maybe he gives up a rebound and everyone scrambles for the puck and maybe it still goes in anyway but maybe it doesn’t. 8/10.

For the third time in the game, the Stars recovered in time to take back their lead, and for the third time they lost it again.


The last goal of the game was pretty unfortunate, coming off a shot from Denis Grebeshkov that deflected off Nicklas Grossman’s skate and over Turco. There was a brief moment while everyone watched the puck rainbow into the net, and suddenly it was all tied up again.

Verdict: Turco saw the puck in time to swing back with his stick and try to bat it out of the air, but he missed. I’ve no doubt that spectacular in-the-zone Turco could have connected enough to keep it from going in, and it would have been amazing and stunning and glorious. However, it would be extremely unfair to actually blame him for that goal.  3/10.

Of course, both goalies held on through the end of the third and all of OT to force a shootout. The Hemsky GWG was just pretty lucky/unlucky, as it was sort of an accidental goal on both ends.

Conclusion: Three times, the Stars fought for a lead only to watch it go down the drain less than 7 minutes later. Turco coming up big on any one of the tying goals could have sealed the deal. Nobody should be upset about him not being Super Goalie in just the first two games, but with all this team adjustment from the new system… it’d be nice to see how they perform with a solid, positionally-sound goalie instead. Y’know, like Alex Auld.

Turco’s Fault? Meter:
It’s 52.5% Turco’s fault. You can try to hang this loss on Turco, but don’t expect it to stick very well.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Penner, Morrow, Gagner
  • Brenden Morrow looked like himself again, with two goals and an assist.
  • James Neal and Brad Richards led the team in SOG with 7 each.
  • Wandell and Brunnstrom moved up to the third line, replacing Modano (injured) and Petersen (fourth line). Brunnstrom looked like he’d made considerable strides defensively, finishing with an even +/- compared to his linemates’ combined -3. Meanwhile, Wandell led the team in SH TOI, but was not on the ice for either of the Edmonton PP goals.
  • The only player on the fourth line (Petersen-Sutherby-Barch) to accomplish anything was Barch, who had 3 hits, a fight, and a takeaway. Petersen and Sutherby combined for 1 SOG and 2 faceoff wins.
  • Jamie Benn got his first NHL point, assisting on Morrow’s first goal by turning the puck over to an Oiler who turned it over to Daley.
  • Steve Ott needs only 5 more PIM to pass Shane Churla for 3rd most by any Star. Anyone else want to see him get his minutes by taking on Iginla?
  • Conclusion: Don’t bother hitting the panic button. Chances are, it’s only a matter of time before Auld gets to start. If he does really well (meaning Turco might be more to blame for these losses after all), then yay! We’ve got a goalie in net who is doing really well! Besides, if you spend every game in fits about Turco, you’ll miss out on all the fun of freaking out over actually having impressive young talent to watch.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: three for the goal but minus-one for letting Comrie score uncontested; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist but minus one for screening his own goalie; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for each goal and two for the assist; +8
Krys Barch: two for taking on Souray and putting him in the box for five minutes but minus-one for losing the fight; +1
Jamie Benn: two for the assist and one because how he got that assist was rather amusing; +3
James Neal: three for the goal and one for style; +4
Tom Wandell: one for fitting in nicely as third line center; +1
Steve Ott: one for actually winning faceoffs, one for standing up for Grossman, but minus-one for being on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals against; +1
Marty Turco: two for the assist, one for the solid moments, but minus-one for the weak ones; +2
Karlis Skrastins: one for leading in blocked shots again; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for already looking less lost this season than he did all of last season; +1

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