Game Reviews – (vs BOS) and (@ CHI)

by Chelsea

The “Back-to-Back Special”, or the “Tale of Two Teams.”

Game – 10/16/09:

Well the funny thing about this back-to-back was that both of the teams spent every meeting last season completely embarrassing the Stars. For that reason, the general consensus here was that it’d be nice to at least get 2 points of the 4. Because the Boston game was on home ice and the first of the two, it seemed really important that the Stars play well.

What really happened appeared to be more like the Stars slept right through the game against the Bruins so that they’d have lossa energy to take on Chicago with. Ribeiro took a dumb penalty in the first, the Bruins scored, and the game basically ended there with 47 minutes left to play.

For insurance, though, the Bruins added another two goals and won the game 3-0. Turco couldn’t really be faulted for any of them, but also did not really come up with enough timely saves to keep them in the game.

On a positive note, Aaron Gagnon (called up from the Texas Stars) played in his first ever NHL game. For having played the night before, he didn’t look so bad. He won 5 of 8 faceoffs and had a takeaway and a blocked shot (and no giveaways).

Nicklas Grossman took a puck right in the face in the second period, but because he is 1/2 of the toughest defensive pairing in the league, he skated himself off the ice and returned in the third. All things considered, it was a pretty unlucky night to be anywhere near Stephane Robidas (at least 2 of the goals against deflected off of him).

Notes – 10/16/09:

  • The three game stars, in order: Savard, Thomas, Chara
  • Brad Richards and a handful of other Stars had their point streaks broken. Because nobody scored. Which was sad.
  • All of a sudden, the Dallas power play lost its power, going 0-for-3 despite the advantage coming at some pretty crucial points in the game.
  • Mike Ribeiro had a rough night, as he took the Stars’ only penalty and was on the ice for both even strength goals against. He also won only 27% of his 15 faceoffs and only 1 of his 5 shots even got on goal.
  • Rookie Jamie Benn actually led the Stars in blocked shots, with 3. He also had 3 takeaways and 2 giveaways.
  • Robidas led the team with 6 hits.
  • Conclusion: A stinker was bound to happen eventually, and while it is disappointing that it happened so early, it is also completely unsurprising that it was against the Bruins.

SHR +/- – 10/16/09:

Nicklas Grossman: one 😦 point for leaving the game bloodied and hurting but one 🙂 point for returning; +2
Aaron Gagnon: one welcometotheNHL! point; +1
Tom Wandell: minus-one for sucking so much at faceoffs; -1
Mike Ribeiro: see Tom Wandell; -1


Game – 10/17/09:

Immediately following the Bruins game, the Stars packed up and headed to Chicago to play the Blackhawks. Ooh, the dreaded Blackhawks, unbeaten by Dallas since the 07-08 season. Ooh, and playing their second game in as many nights too. Ooh, the Stars would need some serious luck to make it out of this one with a win.

Well… the Stars got a weird mix of luck, fortunate circumstance, and timely goaltending and actually managed to run off with the two points.

First off on the list of oddities was seeing defensive defenseman Mark Fistric playing forward on a line with Petersen and Barch. Gagnon was a healthy scratch and Woywitka was paired with Niskanen. He didn’t look nearly as lost as you’d expect, and actually seemed to be enjoying it.

Second, there was the play of Alex Auld. He was fantastic in the first period, stopping all 14 shots to keep the Stars in the game when they came out sleepwalking. However, for all his timely saves, he did have a few unfortunate moments. The second goal against came when Auld lost his footing behind the net, giving Toews an easy goal. The third gave the Hawks momentum to attempt to tie it by putting them within one goal with 5 minutes left to play.

There was also James Neal. One of the best players for Dallas in the first 5 games all of a sudden looked completely lifeless. He had multiple noticeably lazy moments, including coughing the puck up at his own blueline and then standing there and watching while the Blackhawks scored. He ended the game -1, with only 2 shots, 2 hits, a giveaway and no takeaways or blocked shots.

More strangeness included: Toby Petersen scoring, which was assisted by Fistric, meaning his first point of the season actually came as a forward. Skrastins, Niskanen, Grossman, and Robidas also all left with a point in the game, meaning 5 of 11 (if you include Fistric) points by Dallas players went to defensemen. A pane of glass fell out and into the stands during the game and play was held up as they waited for it to be replaced.

Perhaps the oddest thing was the goal by which the Stars won, which came entirely on accident and suggested that whatever misfortune surrounded Robidas the night before seemed to have reversed.

Robidas shot the puck from center ice, sending it along the glass in a routine dump into the Chicago zone. Instead of heading behind the net, however, it hit something and bounced out towards Cristobal Huet, who reached down to catch it. The puck had a different idea, all of a sudden springing up and over Huet’s glove, into the net.

Though the game was won on a fluke and a fumble, the win was protected by some very very hard work from the Stars penalty kill. With Morrow in the box (stupidstupid) at 17:49 in the third for interference (stuuppiidddd), Chicago pulled their goalie and had 6 skaters against the Stars’ 4. Wandell and Eriksson in particular worked very hard to keep the puck away from Auld and Dallas made it out with the win.

With that kill, the Stars successfully killed 8 of their last 9 penalties dating back to the Nashville game. In fact, they have not allowed a power play goal in any game in which Ribeiro was on the ice for at least 25% of the time shorthanded. I actually kept (approximate) track of how many times each player distinctly gained possession and removed the puck from their own zone during a penalty kill, and Ribeiro, Eriksson, and Neal combined for about 70%. Morrow, Wandell, and Robidas made up the other 30%.

However, the Stars power play was not any better than Chicago’s. They had 5 opportunities (8 if you go back to the Boston game) and couldn’t score on any of them. Granted, Crawford played a pretty conservative power play as it probably didn’t seem worth risking the game (a Blackhawks SH goal would have really given them momentum) to try to increase their lead.

Notes – 10/17/09:

  • The three game stars, in order: Auld, Toews, Ribeiro
  • Auld is now 2-0-0 and has been a game star in each game he’s started, even in preseason.
  • Morrow got himself an extra 2 minutes after the final buzzer for sassing, apparently.
  • Ribeiro, after promising after the Boston game that he would be better, had a goal and won 40% of his faceoffs.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom was the only Star to end the game with a +2. He also assisted on the first goal when he won a puck battle and sent it to Morrow for a one-timer.
  • That ^ is a little misleading, as Morrow’s one-timer was stopped, but he got his own rebound.
  • Robidas led the team with 5 hits. That’s 11 in two nights, which is more than the majority of Stars have all season.
  • Conclusion: It was a weird win, but getting two points and not giving any up to a Western opponent is nothing to look down on. Stars really need to build off this and string together a few more, though.

SHR +/- – 10/17/09:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist, one for looking really good in the first half of the game, but minus-one for looking really bad in the second half; +2
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal but minus-one for that stupid penalty; +2
Krys Barch: two for the assist; +2
Jamie Benn: two for the assist; +2
Toby Petersen: three for the goal but minus-one for being so awful at faceoffs lately; +2
James Neal: bleck; -2
Loui Eriksson: one for his hard work on the PK; +1
Tom Wandell: one for his hard work on the PK but minus-one for the stupid penalties; +0
Mark Fistric: two for the assist; +2
Alex Auld: one for the win, however unusual it was; +1
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for the hustle that earned him his +2; +3

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