Posts tagged ‘Alex Auld’

November 3, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

After a somewhat dismal group of games to close out October, let’s see what the media is saying about the Stars this week.

Actual rank: 10th in league; 6th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 6-3-5. L10: 5-3-2.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 13 this week; 14 last week. Backup netminder (at least in theory) Alex Auld drew back-to-back starts in losses to Florida and Nashville as the Stars continue underwhelming (2-2-2) play at home.”
Of Note: Phoenix at 6 this week; 16 last week. The Coyotes continue to prove they are for real with three straight wins, and Ilya Bryzgalov continues to shine in goal. (He’s allowed just 25 goals in 13 games.)”
My thoughts: Underwhelming is one way to put it. You could also substitute “pathetic” or “uninspired” and be okay. For a team that had a 16-19-6 road record last season, the Stars are winning road games they should not be winning – and losing home games they should not be losing. This season’s 4-1-3 road record is definitely better than 2-2-2 at home, but the L5 of 2-1-2 isn’t stellar. No matter where they play, the Stars need to pick it up. Having a goalie with a breakout season like Bryzgalov would go a long way towards that, but so would some solid defense and consistent special teams. Sound familiar?

TSN
Stars:
6 this week; 11 last week. With four points in the last four games, Fabian Brunnstrom is starting to contribute offensively, giving the Stars all kinds of depth up front. Now, they just need Marty Turco to get over his illness, because he’s been much better than Alex Auld so far this season. Key Injuries: G Marty Turco (flu).”
Of Note: Boston at 20 this week; 20 last week. Not the Bruins handle the man advantage much better, going 2-for-36 (5.6%) over the last 11 games, a trend that might prompt a change in power play personnel, like getting Dennis Wideman back on the first unit in place of Derek Morris, for example. Key Injuries: C Marc Savard (foot), LW Milan Lucic (finger).
My thoughts: Finally, Fabian Brunnstrom gets some credit. Everyone is so busy talking about Holy Cow Jamie Benn that they’re overlooking the fact that Bunny has quietly accumulated six assists and a goal so far. It’s also nice to hear that our starting goalie has been better than our backup goalie this season, considering that’s kind of how it should be. Turco’s been a bit shaky at times, giving up goals at critical times, but his overall game is much better than it was last season. So far he’s got a .917 sv%. More importantly, he’s sitting with a 2.26 GAA in front of a team that’s scoring 3.43 goals per game on average. That’s behind only Calgary, Washington, and Philly, in case you were wondering. It helps that, unlike the mighty Bruins, the Stars are occassionally managing to score on their PPs. With Brad Richards back and healthy, our middle-of-the-league power play should improve. As long as that happens, and Turco keeps up the good work, the Stars should also continue to improve.

Yahoo by Ross McKeon
Stars: 16 this time; 17 last time. “Marty Turco is off to a better start this season than last. You don’t think it has anything to do with it being a contract year, do ya?”
Of Note: Colorado at 2 this time; 30 last time. “Best story of the early season, bar none. Craig Anderson is emerging as a star in goal. And if you haven’t gotten a glimpse of teen-aged rookies Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene you really are missing something.”
My thoughts: Another ranking, another talk of our goaltending. Turco needs to have a big year, but more than that, the Stars need Turco to have a big year. Of course, Turco being off to a better start this year than last doesn’t say much, considering he started last year with 29 goals against in his first eight games. At least this year, he has a viable backup in Alex Auld (who I still believe in despite his rocky back-to-back starts last week). Meanwhile, Colorado has in Craig Anderson what we wish we could have in Turco, as Anderson has been leading the surprise charge to first place in the West for the Avs.

Overall, despite a less than stellar handful of games to close out the start of the season, the media seems to be remaining pretty optomistic about the Stars. It has been an encouraging first month. They have points in 11 of their first 14 – points that could be very valuable when the playoff crunch rolls around. For November, I’m hoping they start picking up those points in regulation instead of giving away points in a good third of the games they play. As much as the points we’ve gained in OT losses could help us in the final crunch, the points we’ve given to other teams could hurt us. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

At time of publication, The Hockey News had yet to update their power rankings for the week.

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November 2, 2009

Weekend Notes and +/-

by Chelsea

Notes (DAL vs FLA):

  • The three game stars, in order: Reinprecht, Wandell, Horton
  • All three of Reinprecht’s goals came while the Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line was on the ice.
  • The Stars recovered from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime, but were once again unable to score in the shootout.
  • The game was head coach Marc Crawford’s 1000th behind an NHL bench.
  • Ribeiro’s line was a combined -9, while Wandell’s (with Brunnstrom and Sutherby) was a combined +6.
  • Wandell’s line also combined for 2 goals and 4 assists, including Brunnstrom’s first goal this season.
  • James Neal lead the team with 6 hits.
  • Stephane Robidas and Karlis Skrastins each had 5 blocked shots.
  • Conclusion: The Stars are not going to make the playoffs if they continue to play below their ability every time they face the Eastern Conference.

SHR +/- (DAL vs FLA):

Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist but minus-one for an overall bad game; +3
Jamie Benn: two for the assist but minus-one for an overall bad game; +1
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: two for each assist and one for being the Stars’ best player; +5
Alex Auld: minus-one for a rough outing; -1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal but minus-one for an overall bad game; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5

Notes (DAL @ NSH):

  • The three game stars, in order: Dumont, Hornqvist, Klein
  • Alex Auld played in both back-to-back games due to Marty Turco being out with flu-like symptoms.
  • The Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line was a combined -6, while the Sutherby-Wandell-Brunnstrom line managed a combined +3.
  • Wandell’s line accounted for half of the Stars’ scoring (1 g, 2a).
  • Wandell also tied for the lead (with Mark Fistric) in blocked shots with 3.
  • Conclusion: The Stars’ power play had the opportunity to put the game away for the second time in two games, but came up short. The top two lines need some rearranging if Dallas wants to get more than 1 out of every 4 available points.  Hopefully the return of Modano and Lehtinen can help stabilize the team while they get back on track.

SHR +/- (DAL @ NSH):

James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: three for the goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: meh; -1
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

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 18, 2009

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

October 14, 2009

Power Ranking Round-Up

by Chelsea

With the first road trip out of the season out of the way, it’s time to see how the people-in-the-know around the league are feeling about the Stars.

Actual rank: 17th in league; 9th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 1-0-3. L10: 1-0-3.

ESPN by Scott Burnside
Stars: 18 this week; 25 last week. “The Stars are undefeated in regulation and beat up on the Flames and backup Curtis McElhinney. Sophomore James Neal is off to a good start with three goals and an assist.”
Of Note: Toronto at 30 this week; 28 last week. “Easily the worst team in the NHL right now. No goaltending. Can’t kill penalties. Aren’t even that tough. Ouch.”
My thoughts: The bad thing about dropping three points in three shootout losses? …Well, dropping three points in three shootouts. But the good thing about it? Technically, the Stars are undefeated right now. The only other team in the league to be without a regulation loss so far is Buffalo. Of course, losing three times in post-regulation play versus winning three times is a little different. The Stars are going to have to work on a few details of their game if they want to start picking up the full two points. One major detail they can relax a little bit about is the backup situation. Alex Auld carried the team to their one win – and The Monster’s problems in Toronto have us appreciating Auld that much more. He’s already been placed on IR, leaving the Leafs with a struggling Vesa Toskala in net and the second-worst penalty kill in the league (behind only – you guessed it – the Stars).

The Hockey News
by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 19 this week; 18 last week. “Wonder if Fabian Brunnstrom will just fade into oblivion.”
Of Note: Nashville at 18 this week; 16 last week. “Continued production from Patric Hornqvist would help paltry offense.”
My thoughts: As much as it pains me, I think we’re all kind of wondering that about Fabian Brunnstrom. I heard a rumor that spoke of the Stars using him as trade bait for a puck-moving defenseman and in some ways, that makes sense. Send him somewhere else before he gets a reputation as being a free-agent bust; use him while he still has some trade value. He also doesn’t seem to fit into the line-up the way fellow sophomore James Neal or rookie Jamie Benn do. You also have to wonder if he would be farther along in his development if he had been playing somewhere else (like Detroit). Maybe he’s a bust, maybe he’s having trouble adjusting, or maybe the Stars just aren’t the best fit for him. I think he has extraordinary potential, but I’m not sure he can reach it in Dallas. As for Nashville, let’s keep our fingers crossed that their “paltry offense” keeps ticking right along, at least through tonight. They’ve scored six goals in their four games, which averages out to a league-worst 1.5 per game. The Stars are scoring 3.5 times per game on average. If the trends continue, tonight’s game against them ought to have a good outcome.

TSN
Stars: 17 this week; 21 last week. “The Stars are playing strong defensively, giving up just 24.5 shots per game, so they would fare better if G Marty Turco can improve on his .880 save percentage.Key Injuries: C Mike Modano (ribs). “
Of Note: Detroit at 19 this week; 3 last week. “A sluggish enough start to the season is now compounded by the injury to Johan Franzen. For a Wings team that was already dealing with the loss of Marian Hossa in the offseason, they’ll have to find some new sources of offence to make up for the 74 goals that Hossa and Franzen tallied last season. Key Injuries: RW Johan Franzen (knee).”
My thoughts: How ironic, that the Stars are playing strong defensivley in an offensive-minded system when they couldn’t block shots to save their lives in a defensive system. TSN is the only site this week to mention Turco’s struggles. Some people have said it’s only three games, give him a chance to work through it – but really, isn’t it a season and three games now? I thought the off-season was his chance to work through it. I don’t know where the Marty Turco of old has run off to, but he is no longer in Dallas. That being said, much has been made of our absolutely awful PK this season. The Stars are playing great defense on even strength, but as soon as they go a man down, they’re getting scored on. Chels made a BOLD PREDICTION in her game review of the Vancouver game that involves changing up the personnel on the ice during our penalty kills. That may be the solution here. In the meantime, Detroit at 19? Two spots below the Stars? Ouch. They may be missing some offensive stars, but I don’t think that makes them so much weaker of a team that they should be dropped 16 spots this week. Detroit always finds a way to win, and I think it would be a mistake to let your guard down when it comes to this team. They’ve been a powerhouse team for years, and that isn’t going to change now.

So let’s review. Once again, the Stars don’t crack the top 15 on any list. All three sites rank us about the same: TSN at 17, ESPN at 18, and THN at 19. Tonight’s game against Nashville will be a big one. Nobody seems very worried about our offense this season, and for once nobody is worrying about our blueline. The main concerns, in the media and locally, are Turco and our league-worst PK. Big problems, to be sure, but hopefully nothing that some hard work and creative thinking won’t fix.

October 10, 2009

Game Review – 10/09/09 (DAL @ CGY)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Calgary Flames came into this game as the hottest team in the league, looking to break their franchise record with another win for a 5-0 start. To do that, they’d have to get through the Stars, a team in adjustment looking for their first win of the season.

Despite the fact that Stars starting goalie has put up very good numbers in Calgary over the years, Crawford chose to sit Marty Turco and put Alex Auld in net against the Flames. It was welcome news to Stars fans, anxious to see if Dallas finally has a backup goalie that can be confidently given 20-30 games. The Flames, having played the night before, put in backup Curtis McElhinney instead of Miikka Kiprusoff.

Mike Modano (ribs), Jere Lehtinen (lower body), and Jeff Woywitka (healthy scratch) were also out, while Mark Fistric got to play in his first game of the season.

The plan for the game was to take advantage of a tired Flames team by pressuring early for a lead. Mike Ribeiro really took that concept to heart, scoring off a rebound only 62 seconds into the first. Robidas and Benn assisted. It was the first time in the 3 games that the Stars scored first.

A few minutes later, Matt Niskanen took a holding penalty, giving the Flames the PP that lead to their first real scoring chance of the game.

Keeping in mind that in the last game, the Oilers scored on the first power play, and that every time the Stars took a lead, Turco promptly gave up a goal, escaping that first PK unscathed was huge. Auld was calm and solid, making a number of saves in close to keep the Stars up by one.

In fact, Auld stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first, and Dallas left the first with a 1-0 lead.

The second period started much like the first. The Stars scored early (Sutherby from Petersen and Ribeiro) and a few minutes later were on the PK again. This time, the Flames scored thanks to a nice shot from Jay Bouwmeester.

Auld did not seem rattled, the Stars regrouped, and quickly extended their lead again thanks to a goal from one of their rookie forwards.

Surprisingly enough, the rookie that scored his first goal of the season against the Flames was not Jamie Benn but Tom Wandell, whose energetic efforts finally paid off. His linemate, Fabian Brunnstrom, and Stephane Robidas assisted.

Stars left the second period up 2-1.

Wandell’s line nearly struck again early in the third, when Steve Ott was pushed into McElhinney and Brunnstrom scored. However, the officials decided to call goalie interference on Ott, negating Brunnstrom’s tally and putting the Flames on a power play.

At 5:17 in the third, the Flames scored with the man-advantage for the last time to pull within one goal. Dallas responded to the disappointing call on Ott and the following goal with impressive determination. Auld locked it down, and the only line not to score yet stepped up to the plate.

Loui Eriksson earned his first goal of the season by beating out Bouwmeester for space in front of the crease and redirecting Richards’ shot into the net. Neal got the second assist, bringing his points streak to 3 goals and 1 assist in 3 games.

Calgary pulled their goalie late in the game in an attempt to tie it, but Richards got a shot off into the net past Dion Phaneuf to seal the deal at 5-2.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ribeiro, Robidas, Ott
  • Ribeiro and Richards each had a goal and an assist in the win.
  • Alex Auld stopped 21 of 23 shots and was not scored on at even strength.
  • It was appropriate that Joe Nieuwendyk’s first win as the Stars GM came against the team that traded him to Dallas in 1995.
  • Nicklas Grossman and Stephane Robidas were both on the ice for every single goal scored. Because both of the Flames’ goals came on the power play, both defensemen ended the game +5.
  • The Stars PK has been very generous, unfortunately, allowing 4 power play goals in the last 2 games.
  • Conclusion: The Flames were tired, McElhinney did not always look sharp. This was a game the Stars should have won, and… they did. Auld was strong and steady in net, quietly making saves in key moments. Benn and Wandell continued to impress. A good, well-deserved win, but the real test will be on Sunday.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the awesome +5; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for each assist and two for the awesome +5; +6
Jamie Benn: two for the assist and one for routinely prancing around Calgary’s best defensemen; +3
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: three for the goal, one for being one of the best players on the ice, but minus-one for his continuing struggles at winning faceoffs; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Alex Auld: two for being the solid, confident backup fans have been wanting; +2
Karlis Skrastins: two for more impressive shot blocking, especially on the PK; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

October 7, 2009

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

October 7, 2009

Introducing the Weekly Picture Fantastic

by Kristine

Welcome to the trial run of a new feature here at SHR, the Weekly Picture Fantastic (WPF if that makes it easier for you). Every Wednesday I’ll be selecting my five favorite images of the previous week from various sources, including Flickr, NHL.com, and the new galleries at Andrew’s. The only thing they’ll have in common is that they’ll be Stars-related. Pictures of good plays, funny faces, goal celebrations, the starting line – it’s all fair game.

Since there’s been a lot going on the last few weeks, this first WPF has a few more than five pictures. I went all the way back to pre-season for the first few images…

Alex Auld - Sept 24, 2009 vs COL
Alex Auld got his first start in net for the Stars on September 24 vs Colorado. He looked very positionally sound.

Marty Turco - Sept 16, 2009 vs TBL
…Whereas Turco seems to have already forgotten where his net actually is.

Loui Eriksson, James Neal, Matt Niskanen - Sept 16, 2009 vs TBL
Meet three guys the rest of the league is going to be very scared of someday. Yes, even Nisky.

Jamie Benn, Darryl Sydor - Sept 19, 2009 at STL
Here we have another exciting young guy, Jamie Benn, saving former Star Darryl Sydor from a spider.

Brad Richards - Sept 24, 2009 vs COL
Brad Richards is back with a healthy body, full head of hair, and intense stare.

Mike Ribeiro - October 3, 2009 vs NSH
Finally, the real season began. I’m happy about that for many reasons, one of which is that I can go back to watching Ribs skate around looking like this during warm-up.

Matt Niskanen - October 3, 2009 vs NSH
Niskanen has looked very confident and competent so far this season. His training wheels may finally be coming off for good.

Trevor Daley, Karlis Skrastins, Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, Jamie Benn - October 6, 2009 at EDM
Our beloved Captain and his faithful sidekick are back, this time with a secret weapon: one Mr. Holy Cow Jamie Benn.

That does it for this week’s WPF. Let us know what you think of this feature in the comments; if you like it, we’ll let it stick around for the whole season.

Individual images can be clicked for larger view. Images are property of their respective owners. As always, special thanks to NHL.com and Shannon Byrne at Andrew’s Stars Page.

October 4, 2009

Game Review – 10/03/09 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game Reviews are back! Because games are back! Because the season has started! Finally!

Game:

The Stars opened their season at home against the Nashville Predators and the Opening Night roster held a few surprises, especially for anyone who hadn’t been keeping up with training camp. Two rookies made the final cut: Jamie Benn, playing RW with Morrow and Ribeiro, and Tom Wandell, centering the fourth line with Barch and Brunnstrom. Mark Fistric, expected to finally get his first full year in the NHL, was a healthy scratch for newcomer Jeff Woywitka. Jere Lehtinen (injured) and Brian Sutherby (healthy scratch) did not play either.

Anyone that made it to both the Battle of the Stars and Opening Night might have noticed that the Texas Stars put on a better show when announcing the players, complete with flares and flames. The Dallas Stars just… stuck their Ice Girls on the ice and had them wave their poms around. Woo.

Anyway, eventually the puck dropped and the Predators started playing. The Stars found themselves on the PK and then scored on before two minutes had even passed, at which point it seemed to sink in that the season had started and it was time to play hockey.

Something worth noting: Wandell featured on the first PK unit for most of the night, and looked very good. His unit (with Modano, Robidas, and Skrastins) seemed to push the play to the perimeter and force the Predators into puck battles, while the second/third one (with Ott and Petersen) allowed more plays to develop before managing to break them up.

Though they outshot (14-9) Nashville and were handed a full minute of 5-on-3, the Stars were unable to capitalize and left the first period down 1-0.

Perhaps the most important play of the game for the Stars came about five minutes into the second period, when Sullivan threw the puck past a very floppy Marty Turco to put the Predators up 2-0.

This is important because this was the point last season when the Stars tended to crumble. Turco didn’t look sharp, they had missed out on a few golden opportunities (Ribeiro hit the post only a minute earlier on a chance to tie it), and nothing seemed to be going past Ellis.

Maybe it was having Morrow back, or because it was the first game of the season, or thanks to Crawford’s aggressive system, but Dallas responded admirably to the challenge. With half a game left to play, they dug in and put on the pressure.

Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist got a shot off at 15:46 from 57 feet out. In the following four minutes, the Stars limited the Predators to a single missed shot, while their only two shots were blocked  and never reached Ellis. It was Brunnstrom, flying down the wing, who finally cracked the defense and got a shot on net at 19:48 in the second. The rebound popped out in front of the net to James Neal, who scored in an Orr-like fashion with only 10 seconds left.

The third period started with the Stars racking up takeaways, shots on goal, and hits. Morrow drew a hi-sticking penalty 3:45, and it was during the following power play that the Dallas pressure finally paid off.

Only 15 seconds into the PK, Ellis attempted to clear the puck up the center of the ice. Eriksson, ever attentive, flew through the slot and nearly took it right off his stick. In his hurry to get it out of danger, Ellis flung the puck straight to Neal, who did not hesitate to tie the game.

For the next 8-9 minutes, Ellis made up for his fumble by pulling his team through two more Stars PPs and holding the tie while Dallas pushed for the win. It wasn’t until nearly 13 minutes into the third period that the Predators even got another shot on goal.

As overtime neared, the officiating got a little iffy, handing Richards a slashing penalty (really?) at 19:25 in the third.

The Stars hung on until 1:14 in OT, when it was evened out by a hooking call on Martin Erat.

If the call on Richards wasn’t frustrating enough, the officials really blew it in overtime when they managed to rob Neal of hat trick and the Stars of a win. They mistakenly assumed Ellis had the puck and blew the play dead far too quickly. In reality, the puck was free, and Neal had jumped on it and shoveled it into the net.

OT turned into a shootout. Ellis stood strong while Turco got a little floppy, Crawford put out some questionable shooters (injured Modano and not-so-great-at-shootouts Eriksson over Morrow, Benn, or Ott?), and the Predators skated away with the extra point.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ellis, Arnott, Neal
  • The Stars outshot the Predators 40-26. Brad Richards led the team with 8 SOG.
  • Dallas had an impressive 20 takeaways, compared to Nashville’s 7. The only skaters not credited with at least one were Barch, Neal, Ott, and Richards. Matt Niskanen led the team with 4.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom looked pretty good. He was the only player to end up a +1 and assisted on Neal’s first goal.
  • Surprisingly, Loui Eriksson ended up with no points and the only player to be a -1.
  • Morrow looked a little rusty and Benn looked a little disoriented at times (including one point where he couldn’t find the puck despite it being right at his feet), but overall that line was solid.
  • The Stars struggled on faceoffs, only winning 30 out of 67.
  • Stephane Robidas caught J.P. Dumont with his head down in the first period with a hit that removed him from the game entirely. However, the Tennessean is reporting that he was not seriously injured.
  • Conclusion: We expected the Stars to spend a few games adjusting to Crawford’s new system, breaking old habits and implementing new ones. It really only took them about half a period before they started to click as a team, and overall the effort was really impressive. There were some impressive, well-planned rushes that were a nice change from Tippett’s dump and (try to) chase.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: one for the hit on J.P. Dumont and one for showing so much concern when he realized he was hurt; +2
Matt Niskanen: one each for confidence and competence and one for holding his own on special teams; +3
Trevor Daley: one for utilizing his speed well; +1
Mike Modano: one pity point for getting hurt already; +1
Brenden Morrow: one big happy WELCOME BACK! point; +1
Jamie Benn: one congrats! you’re playing with big kids now! point; +1
James Neal: three for each goal, one for his lost hat trick, and one for reminding us how awesome he is; +8
Loui Eriksson: one for being good in puck battles, one for forcing the Ellis turnover, but minus-one for being the only Stars player to finish a -1; +1
Tom Wandell: one for being great on the PK and one for the SH breakaway with Skrastins; +2
Steve Ott: one for not gooning it up; +1
Alex Auld: one for getting all excited during the shootout; +1
Marty Turco: two for looking considerably better than last season but minus-one for losing it towards the end of the shootout; +1
Karlis Skrastins: one for pleasantly surprising us and one for the SH breakaway with Wandell; +2
Mike Ribeiro: one for scoring in the shootout; +1
Brad Richards: two for the assist, one for leading in shots with 8, and one for having hair; +4
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for being the only player to end with a +1; +3

July 20, 2009

Stars News and Links

by Kristine

For those of you lamenting the hockey dead zone we’re currently in, here is a meager offering of Dallas Stars news…

DallasStars.com has a short Q&A with Trevor Daley, in which he mentions that his wife is due soon and that he has been working out with newly drafted Scott Glennie.

Scott Noll of the Dallas Morning News alerts us that Morrow has been ranked 49th in a top 50 NHLers list. Personally, I think he should be ranked much, much higher – and I think we have some other players that deserve a spot on there as well. It’s an ongoing list, so we’ll be keeping track to see if any other Stars make it.

The following is a quote from an article on Auld on TbNewsWatch.com…

“The 28-year-old Auld said he’s been told he can expect to play between 25 and 30 games for Dallas this season behind Turco, a player he knew marginally before the trade, but someone who welcomed him into the Stars fold with open arms.

Turco was the first player to phone Auld after the deal, and Auld can’t wait for the lessons to begin.

“He’s obviously a top-end goalie in the league and I’ll be able to learn a lot from him and hopefully push him and complement him and hopefully together get the team back on top.”

Thanks to Andrew’s for the head’s up on that one. It does seem that Turco has learned from his mistakes last season – I’m sure we all remember the reports that he was insisting that his play would improve with a heavy workload, which obviously didn’t happen. In any case, I’m excited to have a “real” backup for 09-10.

On a more personal note, we’re trying to get back into the swing of posting here at SHR, even if it’s just a bunch of links and our comments on them. It’s better than being totally MIA, right? Hopefully we haven’t lost any of our great readers during our off-season slump!