Posts tagged ‘Andrew Hutchinson’

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

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February 11, 2009

Game Review – 2/06/09 (DAL vs NYR)

by Chelsea

Game: 

What should have been a battle between twins Joel and Henrik Lundqvist ended up being more of a pity-the-backup-goalie night, as Henrik was unable to netmind for the Rangers because of the flu. Instead of facing his brother, Joel and the Stars were up against Stephen Valiquette. 

On the other end of the ice was Marty Turco, backed up by Brent Krahn instead of Tobias Stephan, who was sent down to the minors. 

When the puck dropped, everyone basically expected a repeat of the Stars’ last game against the Rangers; a 2-1 win in New York decided mostly with special teams and strong defense. 

It seemed, at first, that that was exactly how the game was going to go.

Though four goals were scored in the first twenty minutes, the period ended with a very reachable 3-1 Stars lead, if the Rangers could manage at least two more goals over the final two periods. 

However, they weren’t able to gain any ground in the second period, with both teams scoring to make the game 4-2. 

Though the Stars’ firepower in the first period would have been enough to carry them through the game, and despite Tippett putting youth and bottom lines out instead of his top players, they turned the game into a historic blowout with 6 third period goals.

The game ended 10-2 Stars. 

Points Summary:

Mike Ribeiro: 2 goals, 2 assists
Jere Lehtinen: 1 goal, 2 assists
Steve Ott: 1 goal, 2 assists
Fabian Brunnstrom: 1 goal, 2 assists 
Matt Niskanen: 3 assists
James Neal: 2 goals
Darryl Sydor: 1 goal, 1 assist
Mike Modano: 2 assists
Brian Sutherby: 1 goal
Brad Richards: 1 goal
Andrew Hutchinson: 1 assist

Notes:

  •  The three game stars, in order: Ribeiro, Ott, Lehtinen
  • The game was Fabian Brunnstrom’s first game back from injury, but also his last; on the last goal, he was tripped up and left the ice noticeably limping. 
  • The team netted 4 power play goals in one game for the first time since 2006.
  • Since moving to Dallas, the Stars hadn’t gotten 10 goals in one game – until this one. They also set the record for most goals in one period since the move from Minnesota.
  • Ott and Lehtinen continued their points streaks to seven games, a career-high for both.

SHR +/-:

Matt Niskanen: two for each assist and one for good defense; +7
Mike Modano: two for each assist; +4
Krys Barch: one for getting 8 hits and one for creating some good offensive opportunities; +2
James Neal: three for each goal but minus-one for sort of stealing a goal from Brunnstrom;  +5
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and two for each assist; +7
Andrew Hutchinson: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for each assist, and one for getting 9 hits; +8
Marty Turco: two for a good game and one for an especially solid third period; +3
Darryl Sydor: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Mike Ribeiro: three for each goal, two for each assist, and one for leading with 5 takeaways; +11
Brad Richards: three for the goal and one for leading in SOG; +4
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, two for each assist, and one for a good game back; +6

February 3, 2009

Game Review – 1/31/09 (DAL at CBJ)

by Chelsea

Questions:

Since 82 games = a lot of games to do in the same format over and over, I’ve been wondering if it’s getting monotonous to read. So what would the reader rather see? Comprehensive reviews like the Detroit one, or more topic-focused ones more like the Tampa Bay review?

Also, how about more posts like the Let’s Talk Stars or “Mike Ribeiro Wife Kids”. Would anyone respond? 

Or, how about more like the comparison post Kristine did awhile back? Anyone (besides me) feel like she should definitely do more of those? 

Game:

With both the Blue Jackets and the Stars looking to cement a spot in the West’s top 8, this game was a critical one to win. Going into the affair, the Jackets stood strong in the 7th spot, while the Stars looked in from the 9th. Vancouver and Minnesota, two teams also in contention, played each other that night, making the win even more valuable. 

Despite both Dallas and Columbus being defensively-minded teams, games between them always ended up as high-scoring affairs. The last time they faced off, James Neal fought Derick Brassard, whose season was ended in the scrum when his shoulder was dislocated, and Loui Eriksson got his first career hat trick. 

First period started.

Scoring opened at 5:58 when James Neal, assisted by Matt Niskanen and Mike Modano, collected a rebound and put it in the net behind rookie goalie sensation Steve Mason. 

It continued rather unfortunately for the Blue Jackets at 8:22, when Marty Turco made a great save and Loui Eriksson picked up the rebound. He moved undisrupted into their offensive zone and tried to pass the puck across the crease to linemate Brad Richards. Columbus defenseman Marc Methot successfully stopped the pass, but the puck went right back to Eriksson, who was able to catch Mason off-guard and score unassisted. 

Barely two minutes later, at 10:43, the Stars scored the last goal they’d get in on Mason.

In another slightly flukey incident, Manny Malhotra took a shot that rang off the post (one of many saves the pipes made in this game) and play turned away from Turco. The Stars were able to carry the puck into their zone, and while Eriksson’s shot was stopped by Mason, Brian Sutherby managed to stuff the rebound into the net, putting Dallas up 3-0 for the second game in a row.

Brad Richards got the second assist.

The goal was Sutherby’s first goal and point as a Star in 16 games, after being acquired from the Ducks for a prospect and conditional draft pick.

Columbus began their attempted comeback late in the period, when Kristian Huselius was allowed to walk the puck in on Turco and score unchallenged. Jan Hejda and Marc Methot got assists.

The period ended on a power play for the Jackets when Steve Ott and Rick Nash collided. The result was a knee-on-knee check (though possibly accidental; it didn’t appear from the replays that Ott stuck his leg out intending to catch Nash’s knee) and a tripping penalty for Ott. Immediately following the incident, Methot tried to fight Ott, who couldn’t drop the gloves because of his broken hand. Though the scrum was mostly Ott holding on and absorbing blows, both players were given roughing minors.

First period ended. Steve Mason had been pulled from the game (and sat on the bench looking barely tired and pretty peeved) after letting in 3 goals on 8 shots, and was replaced by in net Wade Dubielewicz.

Second period started.

Stars PK tried to keep the Jackets from further hacking at was had been a 3-goal lead, but Fedor Tyutin was able to beat Turco with a power play slap shot from the point only 1:38 into the period.

He was assisted by Huselius and Nash.

Now looking at losing their lead entirely as the Blue Jackets picked up their lost momentum, it was Turco who kept the Stars in the game until they found their feet again. He made some key saves to hold the score at 3-2, and finally got some backup from rookie James Neal. 

His second goal of the night came at 13:29 in the second, and looked very much like his first. After utilizing his size well to bully himself a spot in front of the crease, Neal collected a rebound off Modano’s shot and put it in past Dubielewicz. Then he ran himself into the glass and screamed “Yeah!”, which I’m sure the Jackets fans appreciated.

Chris Conner got the second assist, his second point in two games.

Ott made sure to rub some salt in the wound at 18:58 of the second, irritating Columbus fans by scoring instead of getting further mauled for his hit on Nash. His goal was also off a loose rebound, this time aided by Jere Lehtinen and Mike Ribeiro.

The period ended 5-2 Stars, despite Columbus outshooting them 25-22 over the first two periods.

Third period started. 

Once again, the Blue Jackets came out strong and applied pressure, and were once again rewarded for their hard work. 

This one was a garbage goal by Jared Boll, which he had to celebrate from his back after Matt Niskanen flattened him. It came at 4:34 in the third, was assisted by Jason Williams and Fredrik Modin, and was basically worth it to see Niskanen respond to a goal by knocking the scorer over. Or whatever it was he was actually trying to do. 

The goal meant that the fourth Stars goal, aka Neal’s, would eventually be the game winning goal – a description accurate under multiple definitions. 

The fun was not over, though.

First, at 7:10 in the third, Trevor Daley scored his sixth goal of the season by beating Dubielewicz with a slap shot. Toby Petersen and Darryl Sydor assisted. It marked a career-high in goals for the defenseman, whose previous best was 5 goals in 82 games last season.

Then, at 18:02, Andrew Hutchinson got HIS first goal as a Star and first of the season. It was assisted by Nicklas Grossman and James Neal.

Columbus pushed back in the final minutes of the game, and in holding them off, Sydor took a shot to the ankle that saw him leaving the game. Still, they were unable to score, and the game ended 7-3 Stars.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Neal, Sydor, Modano
  • Krys Barch, despite getting 8 teeth mauled by Chris Chelios and getting five root canals a few days before, did not miss the game and logged 10 minutes worth of ice time. 
  • The win bumped the Stars up to the 7th spot in the West and knocked Columbus down to the 9th. A loss from the Oilers the day after moved them down a spot, putting the Stars up into the 6th spot.
  • James Neal saw his second 3-point night of the season, with two goals and an assist.
  • It was announced after the game that Columbus goalie Steve Mason has mononucleosis, but has not missed a game and will be starting again in their next game. Hopefully, he’s not really all that sick, because starting your 2o-year-old goalie in back-to-backs when he’s fighting mono and then again three days later… that’s iffy.
  • Conclusion: The Stars got their fourth win in a row, putting them into a very fragile playoff spot. While it was no easy task getting that spot, it seems like it will only get harder and harder to hold onto it. Taking advantage of their home-filled February will be key, and if they give up that opportunity entirely, they really don’t deserve that playoff spot anyway.

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist and two for tying for the lead in hits and blocked shots; +4
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist, one for tying the lead in blocked shots, and one for ending the game +3; +4
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3
Mike Modano: two for each assist and one for ending the game +3; +5
Krys Barch: two for playing with a majorly busted-up mouth and still having a good game; +2
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: three for each goal, two for the assist, and one for finally looking like he cares again; +9
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and one for finally getting it; +4
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Landon Wilson: one for finally starting to skate again even if he can’t play in games yet; +1
Chris Conner: two for the assist and one for ending the game +3; +3
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchison: three for the goal and one for finally getting it; +4
Steve Ott: three for the goal but minus-one for the questionable hit and following penalty; +2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and two for having a really good game; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2

January 31, 2009

Game Review – 1/29/09 (DAL at DET)

by Chelsea

Game:

So… I was initially working on a picture to put up with the review, but it’s taking much longer than expected and now I’m behind on the review again. Sorrys.

Dallas Stars took on the Detroit Red Wings for the fourth and final time of this season. So far, the series was tipped in the Stars favor (2-1-0), with the only loss coming in a 6-1 shaming at the Joe Louis Arena.

Marty Turco, in fact, had never won a game at the Joe in the regular season. It seemed like he was a little overdue for that win.

Coming off a shut out win against the Atlanta Thrashers, the Stars seemed confident and prepared to take on the defending Cup champions.

After getting horribly outplayed during their last visit to Detroit, it was great to see the Stars keep pace with the Wings during the first ten minutes of play. Dallas broke ahead early when Kris Draper took a holding penalty at 9:57, leading to the first of a number of productive Stars power plays.

Less than thirty seconds into the man-advantage, at 10:15, Steve Ott netted his seventh goal of the season and second in two games with a skillful deflection of Brad Richards’ shot from the blue line. Mike Ribeiro, responsible for setting Richards up for the shot, got the second assist.

Less than a minute after, there was a careless collision in open ice, and this happened:

That’s Chris Chelios hi sticking Krys Barch, which resulted in this:

Despite having a mouthguard in, Barch had 8 of his teeth (three top, five bottom) shattered by the hit. Though he returned to the game after getting patched up, he still had to stay in Detroit afterwards to go to the dentist and get (according to Razor) five root canals done before rejoining the team in Columbus.

The situation is slightly reminiscent to taking drivers licenses away from the elderly; Chris Chelios apparently is not able to control his own limbs anymore, so someone should consider taking his hockey stick away. If they can do so without losing half a dozen teeth.

The double minor Chelios got put the Stars on another power play at 10:50 in the first. At 11:32, they scored again, putting the league’s worst road PP 2-for-2 against the league’s best home PK.

This one was also orchestrated by Richards, who collected a pass from Ott and patiently drew the attention of Detroit goalie Chris Osgood before sending a slick pass to Jere Lehtinen. Lehtinen, who had snuck up behind the defense deep in the slot, had an open net and didn’t hesitate to put the puck in it.

The second half of the double minor expired without incident, Osgood managing to shut down another chance by Ott to hold it at 2-0.

With both the Richards and Ribeiro lines producing, Mike Modano’s line had been comparatively quiet. RW Mark Parrish was still out with the flu, replaced by Chris Conner who, despite some speedy effort, had yet to produce.

He got his golden opportunity from Modano when an icing call sent play back to Detroit’s zone with 1:30 in the period. Modano won the faceoff and scrambled to get the puck to Conner. Conner shot it immediately, surprising Osgood and earning himself his first goal of the season.

A bit of a scrum at the end of the period resulted in Matt Niskanen and Tomas Holmstrom getting a minor penalty each, for interference and hi sticking.

The first period ended with a very surprising score of 3-0 Stars. The three goals came on only 12 shots, leading to Chris Osgood getting pulled in favor of Ty Conklin for the start of the second.

Penalty troubles continued for the Red Wings only 00:25 into the second period, with Marian Hossa called for tripping Trevor Daley. This time, it seemed like Conklin would be able to hold off the Stars where Osgood could not. However, he too was solved by Dallas as they applied continual pressure during their power play.

Having managed only two goals in January, Loui Eriksson’s frustration had become increasingly apparent over the last few games, but it was patience that produced for him in the end. Fed the puck by James Neal, Eriksson appeared prepared to fire it at Conklin, who came out to the edge of his crease to meet him. Instead of shooting, though, Eriksson pulled right past him and slipped the puck in the abandoned net. The goal, assisted by Neal and Modano, is Eriksson’s team-leading 23rd this season.


Definitely a goal worth watching.

The struggling Wings, now down 4-0 to the Stars and only 1-for-4 on the PK, didn’t manage to get themselves in the game until they drew a penalty of their own.

Conner was whistled for hooking at 3:31 in the second, giving the Wings a chance that they wouldn’t spoil. Even on an off day, they’re a team with too much talent to be held off the scoreboard for long.

Turco started the PK with a string of spectacular saves, including the rarely-seen and highly-entertaining scissor kick stop.

It was a fast shot and a sneaky tip-in that put the puck past Turco, Hossa getting enough of his stick on Brian Rafalski’s shot to get it in the net. Pavel Datsyuk got the second assist.

At 5:34, Nicklas Grossman was assessed a minor penalty for cross checking. During the stop in play, Barch and Downey did their best to drop the gloves, but were separated by the officials and handed matching roughing minors.

Detroit thought they’d cut the Stars’ lead in half at 10:42 when Dan Cleary’s shot popped up off Turco and over and appeared to go into the net. During the scramble, Darryl Sydor seemed to have both hit the puck into the net before knocking said net off its moorings. It became apparent after further review, though, what everyone thought was the puck was actually someone’s stick blade; Sydor’s slap at the puck sent it into Turco’s glove, and he was able to grab it before it crossed the line.


For some reason, Sydor got two minutes for delay of game for having taken the net with him as he stumbled forward.

The Wings did not score on their power play, and play continued 4-1 Stars.

They did manage to score eventually, though. This time it was Andreas Lilja with a slap shot at 15:11 in the second. It was assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Niklas Kronwall.

Dallas got another scare late in the third, when the Red Wings scored again on a power play (thanks to a goaltender interference call on Ott) to narrow the lead to a very reachable 4-3. However, Marty Turco was being slightly squished by Holmstrom at the time of the goal, as he’d gotten bumped by Daley and the pair fell backwards onto Turco. The goal was disallowed due to incidental goalie interference.

Turco and Holmstrom had been battling through most of the game, with the netminder delivering purposefully-placed blows to the legs whenever Holmstrom intruded into his crease. None of these were called as penalties, and when Holmstrom’s intrusions went too far and led to the called-off goal, Detroit fans were livid at the apparent double-standard. Really though, it didn’t matter if the contact had been intentional, as Turco was still unable to move through his crease or make a save.

The period ended 4-2 Stars. After the first period’s 22-shot game (12 SOG for Dallas vs 10 for Detroit), both teams’ defenses started to lock in down in the second. Detroit outshot Dallas 10-8 for the period.

Third period started.

Ten minutes in, there was some concern for Johan Franzen after he took an accidental hit to the head from James Neal. Neal, who had been coming in for a hit on Lidstrom, missed his check and got Franzen instead. Franzen didn’t appear to have been paying attention, following his teammate along the boards with his head down. He wasn’t injured by the collision, and play continued.

Ott got yet another penalty halfway shortly after as the play got more physical, jeopardizing what had been a so-far successfully defended lead. It was a pretty questionable cross checking call after Ott collided with Datsyuk and delivered a little extra bump as he stood back up.

The Red Wings had some trouble on their power play, as they missed the only three shots during those two minutes.

With two minutes left in the game, Holmstrom took a minor penalty for closing his hand on the puck, then made it a double with an unsportsmanlike conduct when he argued with the official.

Conklin retreated to the bench with roughly 1:20 to go, and the extra Detroit attacker put the game at even strength again. Neither team scored, and the game ended 4-2 Stars.

The third period was basically a contest of which team could out-Wings the other. Despite power plays for both teams, only 7 shots on goal were recorded in the impressively-performed period.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Richards, Ott, Lilja
  • Our three game stars, in order: Ott, Richards, Modano
  • Turco made 22 saves on 24 shots, good for a .917%.
  • In the last three games, Turco has let in only 3 goals on 77 shots and recorded 1 shut out. For the first time this season, his GAA is under 3.00 (2.98).
  • Over those three games, Ott has scored 2 goals and recorded 3 assists for a 5-point streak.
  • The win meant that the Stars won their last three (all in regulation) – the first time this season that they’ve gotten three wins in a row.
  • In the last five games, the Ott-Ribeiro-Lehtinen line has been on fire, recording 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points, with a combined +/- of +10. The Stars won four of those five games.
  • Conclusion: With Ribeiro’s line finding impressive chemistry and Richards finding his place on the power play again, their display of fine offensive skill is only highlighted by Turco’s return to form. If they can keep this going, good things will happen.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for good defense; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for good defense; +1
Matt Niskanen: one for good defense; +1
Trevor Daley:
one for good defense; +1
Mike Modano: two for each assist; +4
Krys Barch: one for omgyou’rebleeding, two sympathy points, and two style points for returning to the game with the same hard-hitting fight-you attitude; +5
Toby Petersen: minus-one for spending 9 minutes doing absolutely nothing; -1
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and one for style; +4
Chris Conner: three for the goal and one for finally showing hand speed to match his feet speed; +4
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and one because he’s Lehtinen and we love him; +4
Andrew Hutchinson: one for good defense; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for leading in hits with five again; +6
Marty Turco: three for a good game and one for finally winning at the Joe; +4
Darryl Sydor: one for good defense and two for pretty much saving a goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for each assist and one for PP style; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for his fancy highlight moves in the short time he played with the Moose before the flu took him out for the rest of his time in Manitoba; +1

January 17, 2009

SHR +/- Midseason Report

by Kristine

Now that the half-way mark of the season (the Monday game vs Detroit) has passed, and the SHR +/- has been updated to it, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at some trends and numbers.

Let’s start by looking at where everyone is at the 41 game mark.

Skater +/- Skater +/- Skater +/-
Grossman +37 Eriksson +98 Parrish +27
Robidas +76 Wilson +25 Lundqvist +16
Niskanen +42 Wandell +6 Boucher +31
Daley +52 Conner +14 Janik +8
Modano +76 Lehtinen +21 Crombeen +26
Morrow +57 Hutchinson +6 Sydor +7
Barch +52 Fistric 0 Zubov +18
Avery -42 Ott +49 Ribeiro +94
Petersen +24 Stephan +23 Richards +67
Neal +85 Janik +8 Brunnstrom +53
Sutherby +3 Turco +46

Obviously, some players have been way outshining others. Some big names – Mike Ribeiro, Stephane Robidas, Mike Modano, and Brad Richards – sit at or near the top, like you would expect. The top also holds a few surprises, with Loui Eriksson holding down the top spot and James Neal breaking into the top 5 early and staying there.

While the top ten or so spots in our plus/minus seem to be pretty accurate, the bottom is a little bit harder to judge. It’s kind of cluttered by people who were call-ups or are no longer Stars, like Tom Wandell or BJ Crombeen. It also doesn’t take into account injured players like Jere Lehtinen, Sergei Zubov, and Joel Lunqvist. If you take away those people, and only count players who are currently playing or have played more than ten games with us, the picture becomes a bit more clear. Darryl Sydor has only earned 7 points with us, Doug Janik is at + 8, and Andrew Hutchinson is +6. Toby Peteresen, at +24, has the lowest +/- to games played ratio. These numbers are fairly on par with our actual feelings about the players.

If you divide number of games with a negative +/- update by total games with updates (since not every player earns or loses points in every game), three players come out with 0%: Brenden Morrow, Fabian Brunnstrom, and Crombeen. Morrow and Brunnstrom each had 17 updates, and Crombeen had 10, and none of them earned negative marks in any of them. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Eriksson comes out on top after that, with only 1 of 26 updates in the negative (a -1 on Dec 12 for “struggling offensively and defensively), for 3.8%. The other players to wind up with less than 10% of their updates as negatives are Krys Barch (5%), Robidas (7%), Neal (8%), and Landon Wilson (10%). On the other end of the spectrum, and again no surprise, 56% of Sean Avery’s updates were negative. After him is Marty Turco, with 28% of his 32 updates being negatives. The only other players to end up with 25% or more of their updates being in the negative are Nicklas Grossman (25%) and Sydor (27%).

Loui Eriksson had a hot streak from October 22 to December 2, earning at least one point in sixteen straight games. The only person to come close to that is Ribeiro, with positive points in twelve games from October 18 to November 15. Eriksson has earned more than five points in seven of his 26 updates, and joins Neal, Mark Parrish, Richards, and Brunnstrom as the only players to earn more than 10 points in one game, with each of them earning 11 points once.

However, the record for most points earned in one game goes to Mike Ribeiro, who earned 15 points October 23 against the Islanders. It’s worth noting that while most of the players with 11 points earned them via hat tricks, Ribbons earned his 15 via one goal, a few assists, style, and being awesome with Morrow. The record for most points taken away in one game goes to Avery, who lost 50 points on December 2. Actually, he technically lost them last night, when we decided that his current -12 did not match up with our feelings about him. He had previously and initially lost 20 for the comment and the following stupidity, and yesterday we assigned him -15 for treating the Stars badly before the comment and -15 for ruining the Stars while he was here. Both are retroactive to the day of the comment, making him -50 for that day. Hey, it’s our plus/minus – we can adjust as we see fit. 😉 Aside from that debacle, the most points we’ve taken away in one game was 6, also from – shocking! – Sean Avery. If you pretend he was never a Star, which we like to do anyway, the most we’ve ever taken away in one game was four. That has happened to multiple players, multiple times. Obviously we’re much more generous for people who do good things than we are anxious to take points away from people.

It’s interesting to note that nobody has hit 100 points yet, although Eriksson is only two points away and Ribeiro is only four away. It’s also worth noting that Morrow hit 52 points in only 15 games. Had he continued at that rate, he would have hit 100 points ten games ago.

Let’s take a look at averages. Once again, we have Louibot at the top with an average of +4 points per game. Under him, averaging +3, are a ton of people. In no particular order: Neal, Parrish, Morrow, Crombeen, Modano, Brunnstrom, Philippe Boucher, Steve Ott, Tobias Stephan, Ribeiro, Lundqvist, and Wilson. The only person with a negative average is Avery with -2. Another real shocker in that one, hmm? Mark Fistric averaged evenly in his short time here, and Turco, Petersen, Matt Niskanen, Janik, Grossman, Hutch, and Brian Sutherby all averaged +1. The rest of the players averaged a middle-of-the-road but still good +2.

If you divide a player’s total number of games with SHR +/- updates by the number of games he’s played as a Star in the first half of the season, you can see who we consider a difference-maker and who is mostly invisible to us. At the top of that chart is Tobias Stephan, who has earned points in eight games despite only actually playing in seven. 😛 More accurate are the numbers for Mike Ribeiro, who has registered an update in 35 of 41 games, or 85%. Turco also makes a difference – although often a negative one – with points assigned to or taken away from him in 84% of his 32 games played. Morrow, when he was around, got positive numbers in 83% of the games he played in (and 0% negatives, as we mentioned before). Also registering highly was Zubov, who received an update in 8 of the 10 games he played in this season. At the bottom we have the people who don’t make much of a difference either way. The worst is Hutchinson, who has shown up in the plus/minus only five times in the 17 games he’s played in as a Star, which comes out to 29%. Barely above him is Parrish with an update in only 30% of the games he’s played with us. Brian Sutherby has only made waves three times in his 10 games, but we’ll cut him some slack and say he’s still getting comfortable here.

Finally, let’s narrow our view to the L10 games played. That takes us back to December 20. I think it can be agreed that the Stars showed vast improvement in the 2nd quarter, so how do things shape up in the plus/minus when you look only at the most recent games? A few players have really bought their A-game, notably Niskanen, Neal, and Otter. All three of them have registered positive updates in at least five games and a negative update only once each. On the other side of things, Robidas has received his only two negative updates in the L10 for a string of games in which he played frustrated and took unnecessary penalties. In the meantime, Hutchinson has updates in only three of the L10, despite playing in all of them, and two of Sydor’s five updates were negatives. Mike Modano has also had a rough, slightly quieter L10, earning negative updates in three games, nothing in four games, and positive updates in three games. On the whole, however, the number show that the team continues to step up and improve.

Overall, it’s pretty obvious that it’s King Loui tearing up the SHR +/- charts this season. If he continues to have a breakout season, his final report for the 08-09 season will look pretty damn good. Same goes for Ribeiro, Neal, Modano, and Lehtinen. It’s also interesting to note that while our top five all register at least 75 points, and the bottom five only register 10 or fewer points, the overall average is only 35 points. There’s actually a 71-point difference between Eriksson’s team-leading 98 points and Parrish, who is the team median with 27 points. I can appreciate that we have some people stepping it up in a big way, but I’d like to see more support from the rest of the roster in the second half of the season. We’re a few games into it as I post this and it’s looking like we might see some more shake-ups as the season continues. Good luck on the second half, Stars!

The SHR +/- page is updated after every game and includes a full roster, as well as the current top and bottom five players. Check it out by clicking here, or find it in the header links any time.

January 16, 2009

Game Review – 1/12/09 (DAL vs DET)

by Chelsea

Game:

Stars versus the Red Wings again, this time actually on Versus. Or VS. Or however they spell their name. Basically, the showdown in Big D was being aired on national TV, so there was just a bit of pressure on the Stars not to lose in a repeat performance of their 6-1 embarrassment a few days before. 

Brad Richards centered the top line for Dallas again, with Loui Eriksson on his left wing and Joel Lundqvist on his right. 

The defensive pairings didn’t change. 

First period started.

Dallas was immediately commanding, pushing towards the net to test Wings goalie Chris Osgood within fifteen seconds of the puck dropping. 

Detroit took the first penalty when Jiri Hudler tripped Krys Barch at 2:19, putting the Stars on their first power play. It was a surprisingly strong start, as Dallas forced Osgood to freeze the puck to alleviate pressure.

There was a surprising amount of goaltender penalties taken in this game, the first of which belonged to Stars goalie Marty Turco, who was given 2 minutes for delay of game at 7:04. It was served by center Mike Ribeiro.

The Stars PK worked well to prevent a power play goal, but could not continue holding back the surging Detroit offense.

Brian Rafalski opened the game’s scoring at 10:49 with a deflection past Turco. Tomas Holmstrom and Brett Lebda got the assists.

The Red Wings continued their attacks, scoring again to further their lead not even two minutes later. 

This one came from Holmstrom at 12:39 when Pavel Datsyuk ripped through Stars defense and drew Turco’s attention, only to pass across the slot to Holmstrom. Osgood got the second assist.

Being down 2-0 to the Red Wings is never a good position to be in. So, really, what better time to get your first NHL regular season goal? The Wings saw their lead cut in half by Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman. 

The goal came at 16:01 off a slap shot from the point, and was initially thought to have been tipped in by Mark Parrish. Grossman was eventually credited with his goal, his first in 110 games. Andrew Hutchinson and Krys Barch assisted.

However, the Stars saw their comeback stifled when Jere Lehtinen was whistled for tripping at 16:35. The Wings flexed their special teams muscles and regained their two-goal advantage half-way through the following power play. 

Marian Hossa got himself on the scoreboard at 17:43, when Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot from the point freed up a rebound in front of Turco. Hossa stuffed in the net to claim the game’s first PP goal. Datsyuk got the second assist.

The first period ended.

Because the game wasn’t on FSN, there was no Ric Renner in intermission. A moment to appreciate.

Second period started.

The tug-a-war from the first period was not lessened over intermission, as Dallas once again narrowed the points gap, within the first minute of resumed play.

At 00:52 in the second, Stephane Robidas walked the puck into the top of the faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot to beat Osgood on the glove side. He got some help from Steve Ott, who was screening the netminder in hopes to pick up a deflection or rebound, but it was Jere Lehtinen who got the only assist.

Osgood took the second goalie penalty, another delay of game, at 1:21. Robidas took a penalty as well, at 12:39 for hi sticking. 

Through the power plays and penalty killing, the momentum of the game continued to pass between the two teams, with Dallas slowly gaining the upper hand. 

The benefit of that shift became apparent late in the period, as the Stars continued the onslaught that would eventually see them outshoot the Red Wings 23-10 over those twenty minutes.

This time it really was Mark Parrish, who was fed a well-placed pass by Krys Barch and wristed the puck past Osgood before he could react. The goal came at 15:53 and served to finally erase the two-point lead that had been haunting Dallas all night. Matt Niskanen got the second assist.

Hossa did not improve their situation, putting the Stars on the power play by tripping Mike Modano. Dallas didn’t convert on the man-advantage, but were offered up another as the period ended.

Seen here is the result of Chris Osgood having fed Mike Ribeiro the blade of his goalie stick. Because the hit drew blood, it was probably already going to be a double minor, but… Ribeiro did his best to sell it, anyway. Those would be his gloves flying up in the air as he falls.

He definitely has a love-it-or-hate-it style, and frankly, we love it.

The incident occurred at 19:45 and gave the Stars 3:45 minutes of power play time to start the third with. 

Second period ended. Third period began.

What could have been a very long and productive power play was spoiled by Modano, when he got two minutes at 00:40 for hooking Henrik Zetterberg. This resulted in a 4-on-4 situation that was very beneficial for the Wings.

They were able to hold back the Stars and kill of what remained of Osgood’s double minor, building up the momentum they’d lost in the previous period. 

Detroit pulled ahead again at 5:19, when Datsyuk pulled out some sorcery to beat Turco in the high corner. Turco overdid it, trying to stop the shot with the blocker instead of simply being in position, but this doesn’t take credit from Datsyuk and his wizardry with the puck.

Johan Franzen and Brad Stuart got the assists.

Kris Draper provide Dallas with a prime opportunity to force overtime when he got a delay of game at 9:09, but it just passed as the 5th unproductive power play for the Stars.

However, when Lebda got whistled for holding on James Neal at 15:54, their hard work finally paid off. At exactly 17:00, Steve Ott did his best Brenden Morrow impression by camping out in the crease and deflecting the puck behind Osgood into the net. 

Mike Ribeiro got the primary assist for setting him up, and Brad Richards got the second. 

Regulation ended tied at 4-4, and overtime began.

OT didn’t actually last too long. When a burst of… something (confidence? adrenaline?) hit Matt Niskanen as he gained possession, he puckhandled his way past a handful of Detroit defenders. Carrying the puck straight up the slot, Niskanen backhanded it into Osgood’s face as he made a sprawling save. The rebound bounced free, and Trevor Daley was quick to capitalize. 

Loui Eriksson and Matt Niskanen got the assists.

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game, in order: Robidas, Datsyuk, Barch
  • The Stars outshot the Red Wings 49-30; the most shots on goal that Detroit has allowed in some twenty years.
  • Ott, Niskanen, Richards, and Parrish all ended scoring droughts.
  • Conclusion: The boost in outshooting their opponent that the Stars have seen recently seems to be more a product of goaltending than anything; Turco and Osgood let in the same amount of goals in regulation, despite the huge difference in shot totals (29-48). If you can’t beat them with good defense, at least beat them with awesome offense?

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: three for the goal, one for finally scoring, one for leading in blocked shots, and two for getting alpha male on the Wings all night (including that hit that nearly sent a Wing into the Stars bench); +9
Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for each assist and one for working hard for them; +5
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3
Mike Modano: minus-one for leading in giveaways with four; -1
Krys Barch: two for each assist and one for making a big difference despite getting less than five minutes playing time; +5
Toby Petersen: one for leading in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchinson: two for the assist; +2
Mark Fistric: two for having a much-need much-missed hard-hitting style, one for not being Janik, one for not being Hutchinson, and one for not being Sydor; +5
Steve Ott: three for the goal; +3
Marty Turco: one for not letting in four goals this time- nevermind; +0
Mark Parrish: three for the goal; +3
Darryl Sydor: minus-one for being the only Star to end the game -2 and minus-one for being the only defenseman to not get a point; -2
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist, one for leading in shots on goal, but minus-one for tying for the lead in giveaways; +2

January 9, 2009

Game Review – 1/08/09 (DAL at DET)

by Chelsea

Game:

This game was kind of a headache. 

Marty Turco started, going into the game looking for his first regular season win at Joe Louis Arena. 

The teams came out with comparable energy, but we’d come to see that it wasn’t exactly sustainable energy.

Detroit scored on only their third shot of the game (4:07 – Marian Hossa, assisted by Brad Stuart and Daniel Cleary) and then again on their eighth (11:28 – Daniel Cleary, assisted by Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg) to wrap up scoring for that period. 

At 11:57, the stream of penalties started. James Neal kicked the party off with a cross checking minor, and was shortly followed by Darryl Sydor, who got two for tripping at 19:13.

Detroit outshot the Stars 11-6 in the first period, and would start the second period on a power play.

During the first intermission, we were surprised to see Tobias Stephan all mic’d up for an interview. We joked that maybe it meant we’d see him playing in the game. Heh. 

Second period went just like the first, except messier, and with an impending sense of doom.

The Stars killed off Sydor’s penalty and got a power play of their own when Brett Lebda took some sin bin time at 5:37 for tripping. However, instead of building momentum and staging a comeback, Dallas struggled to hold onto the puck and only got one SOG during the two minutes.

Just when we hoped that Turco, who’d gone a full 20 minutes without allowing a goal, had locked it up to spearhead the recovery, the Wings scored again. (12:27 – Kirk Maltby, assisted by Tomas Kopecky and Niklas Kronwall)

Only then, down 3-0, did we really get to see what it meant to play stupid hockey.

Stephane Robidas got his stick on Zetterberg at 13:53 and was whistled for hooking. Then, after a hard-fought effort by the team to kill the penalty, he came out of the box and promptly hooked Franzen. 

Naturally, the Wings were not to be held back a second time, and scored again to make the game 4-0. This one was a PPG by Tomas Holmstrom at 17:04, assisted by Hossa and Pavel Datsyuk. 

Cleary finished up the period by boarding Loui Eriksson at 18:04.

The second period ended with the Stars getting outshot 7-6 and outscored 2-0. Marty Turco, who allowed four goals on 18 shots, was pulled in favor of Tobias Stephan. As much as we enjoy seeing Stephan get some time, it really seemed to be more of a surrender by the coaches than a move to spark some life into the team.

As the third period started, Dallas did have a little more life. They started taking possession and creating scoring chances, which paid off early.

At 00:38, Trevor Daley shot the puck and Eriksson, repaying Detroit a favor for having wiped the glass with his face earlier, tipped it in past Osgood to make it 4-1. 

Then, when Kronwall took an open ice run at Ribeiro that knocked his helmet off, a mini-brawl started that had Ott bopping him upside the head and dropping the gloves. Luckily, an official stepped in before Ott could re-injure himself. While that was happening, Ribeiro basically got assaulted by the Wings, which the officials (apparently completely distracted by Ott?) happened to miss entirely. The only penalty dished was to Ott, a minor for cross checking.

In a weird explosion of Red Wings using the Stars as anger management, Neal was knocked into Chris Osgood and (though he seemed to try his best to not fall on the goalie) was given two minutes for goalkeeper interference. That was at 3:16. At 3:30, Holmstrom latched onto Robidas and got two for holding. Then, Robidas responded by giving Zetterberg a big hug at 4:34 and joining the two-for-holding club.

Basically, the Wings went up on a 4-on-3 with one of Dallas’ better penalty killers in the box, and Stephan got to start his first playing time since early December with basically no chance whatsoever. 

After a pass that really should have been stopped was not stopped and a shot that should have been blocked was not blocked, Datsyuk whipped a snap shot past Stephan to make the game 5-1. Nicklas Lidstrom assisted.

When Jiri Hudler got a minor for holding at 9:31, it seemed Dallas may get a moment to breathe. Then, at 10:36, Ott canceled out the power play by charging Maltby. 

Detroit beefed up their 4-on-4 stats a bit by scoring again at 11:02 with Zetterberg shooting the puck in past a screened Stephan, who tried to catch up to the play and make a glove save, but was unable to get into position in time.

Stephan finished the game with a string of solid saves, Dallas finished with a cheap slashing penalty by James Neal at 19:41, and Detroit finished with some power play pity by standing behind their own net with the puck for the remaining 15 seconds.

Ouch.

I think, had the officials not been whistle-happy, or had Stephan played the entire game, it may have been more like a 3-1 or 4-1, rather than the 6-1 embarrassment that it was.

I think, that while Turco was not entirely at fault, he looked really unfocused again. 2 out of the last 3 games have ended with him sporting a sv% below .800, making me wonder if maybe Turco is done with Dallas. He just looks disengaged out there, and when he’s playing with so little energy, the rest of the team usually follows.

Neal, Robidas, and Ott had shameful games. Robidas sounded like he was about to throw himself off a bridge in his postgame quotes, though, so he’s a little bit forgiven. 

In comparison, Turco’s postgame quotes had a little too much “we” and not enough “I” when it came to spreading the blame around. That he is routinely giving up 2 goals in the first period alone and is not apologizing to his team is just getting a little old, to be honest.

As far as big players stepping up goes, this game just highlighted that particular disappointment. While Modano has had some strong moments of leadership and earned himself a spot in this year’s ASG, and Robidas has seemingly begun to speak up more about what needs to be done, they’re really alone in that regard. Ribeiro and Richards have not shown nearly enough impact or even looked like they’re trying to take control of this team. Turco’s words get a little emptier every time he has a night like this. Sydor seems vocal enough, but has hardly been the stability on the blue line we were hoping for. 

If there was ever any question that the Stars were Morrow’s team, there shouldn’t be now. They need him, big time.

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: Hossa, Kronwall, Cleary
  • Turco had a sv% of .778, his worst since late November. He is now 0-8-2 at Joe Louis Arena in the regular season.
  • The Stars took 9 penalties from 4 people, which never spells success when you’re up against the best power play in the league.
  • Eriksson’s goal was his 21st, marking the first time in his NHL career that his goal tally has matched his jersey number. More importantly, it gives him 30 points for the season- one away from matching his career points high of 31.
  • Stephan, in the one period he played, faced only 3 shots less than Turco and let in half as many goals. His sv% for the game was .867.
  • Conclusion: The shining youth and explosive offense is dulled by being handed the responsibility of scoring 4-6 goals every game when their goaltender can’t get himself together. Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on points and standings and playing like it’s the playoffs, and time to pay attention to the details and working out the kinks of their game (especially for the rookies, whose experience next season could help fuel a legitimate Cup run).

SHR +/-:
Stephane Robidas: minus-three for the dumb penalties but one for admitting to them; -2
Matt Niskanen: minus-one for iffy defense; -1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: three for being really really really really missed; +3
Krys Barch: one for squishing Datsyuk; +1
James Neal: minus-two for the dumb penalties; -2
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: one for really trying to hit people; +1 
Andrew Hutchinson: minus-one for doing absolutely nothing; -1
Steve Ott: minus-two for taking dumb penalties; -2
Tobias Stephan: one for a good effort and one for playing the puck without having any giveaways (cough, Turco); +2
Marty Turco: minus-one for each goal; -4
Darryl Sydor: minus-one for the dumb penalty and minus-two for awful defense; -3
Sergei Zubov: two for being missed and one sympathy point for having just had his surgery; +3
Mike Ribeiro: minus-two for being a defensive liability but one for at least looking like he wasn’t ready to give up; -1

January 9, 2009

Game Review – 1/04/09 (DAL at VAN)

by Chelsea

Game:

Despite some travel issues the night before, the Stars managed to make it to Vancouver for the first of their four match-ups this season.

The Canucks were playing without goaltenders Roberto Luongo or Curtis Sanford and newly-signed Mats Sundin, while the Stars were without Joel Lundqvist, Fabian Brunnstrom, Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, and recently-injured Landon Wilson. 

Dallas head coach Dave Tippett had Marty Turco in net again, saying that he intended to put the players out that he would were it a playoff game. Which, really, doesn’t explain why newcomer Brian Sutherby was on the top line. 

Because of Wilson’s injury, Chris Conner was moved up from healthy scratch to the second line with Ott and Ribeiro, while Parrish was moved to the fourth line with Barch and Petersen. 

The defensive pairings remained the same (Daley-Robidas, Sydor-Niskanen, Grossman-Hutchinson), with Janik and Vishnevskiy as healthy scratches again. 

The puck dropped at 9:00 PM CT, which is also known as “way too late, can we please go back to playing in a reasonable time zone?” 

It only took 2:11 to find out that the Canucks have this really annoying spotlight that they put on the goal-scorer when their team scores, just in case you were looking at the wrong end of the ice for some reason.

In a play that started in Vancouver’s defensive zone and got directed up ice by Conner (on accident), the Canucks crashed the net by ripping right through the Stars defense. Hutchinson did his best to get in the passing lane between Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood, but Bernier still managed to get the puck across. Turco, focused on who had the puck, was unable to get over in time to stop Wellwood’s redirection into the net.

We went “oh god, not this again please” as play resumed. 

Dallas displayed some excellent puck control for a few minutes, getting a string of six shots on goal that went uninterrupted for about four minutes until the direction changed back towards their defensive zone again.

It seemed like our concern was well-founded when, at 15:40, we watched the Stars climb into a 2-0 hole for the second night in a row.

Darcy Hordichuk snuck out in front of the net and was left open to redirect a pass from Jason Jaffray in behind Turco, despite the efforts from Dallas defense. Alexandre Bolduc got the second assist.

It began to look like the Stars would leave the first deflated, having played a fairly clean, penalty-less period and with only  a two-goal deficit to show for it. 

Mike Modano stepped up much in the way he hadn’t the night before, redefining “big goal” with a huge momentum-changer only ten seconds before heading to first intermission. 

The goal came after James Neal picked the puck up right inside the offensive zone and sent a sweet pass between two Canucks to Modano. Modano responded by reminding all of us of his skill by seemingly effortlessly scoring on LaBarbera. Loui Eriksson got the second assist.

The period ended at 2-1 Canucks, but with a huge momentum shift in the Stars’ favor.

Second period started.

The next ten minutes were solid hockey. Neither team took any penalties until exactly 10:00 in the second, meaning the entire first half of the game went without special teams.

Too bad it was the Stars’ Chris Conner to take the game’s first penalty, getting two minutes for hooking.

Dallas did its stuff to kill the penalty, and soon it was their turn to get the man-advantage.

First Wellwood was sent to the box for his team when they took a minor for too many men on the ice at 11:49. Then, at 13:14, Ryan Kesler got two minutes of his own for roughing. 

Though the Stars managed to squander their time spent on 5-on-3, they converted the rest of their power play opportunity only two seconds after Wellwood returned to the ice.

At 13:51, Lehtinen patiently held onto the puck until a passing lane opened, at which he set Ribeiro up beautifully for a one-timer. Ribeiro then released a lethal shot straight in past LaBarbera, tying the game 2-2. 

Second period (and the rest of regulation) finished with nothing but puck battles and penalties. Both teams had a power play in the third (Kevin Bieska at 6:55 for delay of game and Conner again at 10:09 for hooking), but neither managed to break the tie that would eventually put them into OT.

Then, in overtime, Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley probably kept the Stars from losing the extra point, both blocking shots and intercepting passes to keep the Canucks from getting any real chances on Turco.

So, that left a shootout to decide the game.

First up were Pavol Demitra for the Canucks and Brad Richards for the Stars. Neither scored. 

Second came Kyle Wellwood and Loui Eriksson (the league’s #1 and #2 in shooting accuracy), and both scored. It was actually Eriksson’s first career shootout goal, coming on his fourth attempt, and showcased some creativity we hadn’t seen too much of. 

Alexander Edler and Mike Ribeiro were up next. Neither scored. Ribeiro pretty much ran himself out of space in trying to be too creative. Whoops.

Tied at 1-3/1-3, the shootout went into it’s fourth round.

Ryan Kesler went for the Canucks and scored, putting quite the challenge on Mike Modano to score for Dallas. Even though everyone knew what he was going to do (high glove side), including LaBarbera, he still managed to hold the team in the game by going a little under the glove instead of over. 

When Alex Burrows, up next for Vancouver, was stopped by Turco, Tippett sent out James Neal to wrap up the game with his first career shootout attempt.

Neal responded to the pressure with a confident, no-frills shot to the blocker side that beat LaBarbera and won the game for the Stars.

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: LaBarbera, Modano, Neal
  • Turco, coming off a loss in Edmonton that saw him sporting a .789 sv% for the game, stopped 33 of 35 shots for a sv% of .943.
  • Chris Conner did not have a particularly good game; he was -2 for the night and took the Stars’ only two penalties.
  • Dallas outshot Vancouver 36-35.
  • The Stars were 1-for-3 on the PP, while the Canucks went 0-for-2.
  • Conclusion: It was good to see the team rally from behind, led by their big players, without using Marty Turco’s play as a measuring stick for how much effort they should bring. Possibly the first time that the team improved and Turco improved consequentially, rather than the other way around?

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: minus-one for leading the team in giveaways; -1
Stephane Robidas: two for tying the lead in blocked shots with three; +2
Trevor Daley: two for tying the lead in blocked shots with three; +2 
Mike Modano: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for the shootout goal, and one for leading the team to their comeback; +7
James Neal: two for the assist, one for the shootout goal, and one for confidence; +4
Brian Sutherby: one for leading the team in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for the shootout goal; +3
Chris Conner: minus-one for not playing all that well; -1
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist and one for special teams awesomeness; +3
Marty Turco: two for the good game; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal but minus-one for tanking at faceoffs; +2

January 5, 2009

Game Review – 1/03/09 (DAL at EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

So, this being an important two points against a struggling team, Kristine and I went and filled up on junk food so we’d be properly excited for what promised to be a good ol’ fashioned buttwhooping.

I mean, they’ve got some of the worst PK problems in the league. What better way to get a boost on our struggling power play, right?

Sutherby accompanied Richards and Eriksson on the starting line, with Daley and Robidas paired up again as the starting defense. 

The rest of the lines were the same (29-63-37, 18-9-26, 13-17-22), as were the defensive pairings (5-55, 2-27) with Janik and Vishnevskiy both scratched again.

While it made perfect sense for Tobias Stephan to be in net (it was the first game of a back-to-back pair, Turco absolutely fails at playing back-to-back, Turco plays well against the Canucks, and Turco had let in 7 goals to the Oilers the two times he’d faced them already this season), Tippett is determined to ride Turco through his 35-game slump. At what point does it stop being a rideoutable slump, again? 

Seriously. It’s been 35 games almost, and he still has the barely-worse stats than his backup goalie, who is 1-2-0 and has been thrown in three games that were already lost. If you’d like to play the “well, Stephan’s only been in six games!” card, that’s fine, just give me time to find my “Turco’s had over thirty to fix his stats and hasn’t” card. 

Point made? Stephan should have started.

While it was pretty clear that the Stars were not playing to the same caliber that they had during the game against New Jersey, it was also clear that the heart was there. 

The puck dropped, and three minutes later, so did the gloves. 

It was Krys Barch, of course, about to take on two guys (Stortini and Strudwick apparently didn’t want to share, both lining up for a go at him.) Strudwick got his gloves off first, so the two of them had a go. Barch apparently scrapped his “fists up, chin in, hit with the hand holding the jersey” style for something more like “grab with the left, Barch smash! with the right” and it worked out alright. The guys traded solid punches for about a minute before the officials broke it up.

Play had barely continued when Shawn Horcoff got two minutes for hooking at 5:24. It was the first of many power plays spent circling around neutral ice. 

At 8:07, Dustin Penner* challanged Landon Wilson to a fight by smacking him in the face with his glove still on. Wilson attempted to oblige, but before he could, Penner grabbed him by the collar of his jersey and forced him very awkwardly to the ice.

*Penner joins the Club of the Hated now, so he can take a seat between Tootoo and Alfredsson if he can get Sidney Crosby to scoot over.

Wilson looked visible shaken by the “fight” and did not play in the rest of the game, having possibly suffered a head injury in the fall.

 Maybe it was concern for their teammate distracting the Stars or the sudden energy shift in favor of the Oilers, but they managed to crack Turco on only their second shot of the game at 8:41.

All they basically had to do was speed through center ice and fire a fast snap shot. Fast being the only excuse Turco had for not catching it, because he wasn’t exactly screened. The goal was scored by Erik Cole and assisted by Sam Gagner and Lubomir Visnovsky. 

If that wasn’t disheartening enough, the Oilers got one more shot off, and then scored on their next. Yeah, that’s every other shot going in.

This time it was Sheldon Souray, who split the defensemen going into the slot and elevated the puck over Turco when he dropped to block the bottom of the net. It really just seemed like bad judgement all over the ice that created that one.

The goal was at 9:37 and assists went to Horcoff and Liam Reddox. 

Dallas tried to rally back, getting some timely power plays at 10:07, 12:22, and 18:55 when Ladislav Smid went off for roughing, goaltender Dwayne Roloson (served by Smid) got a minor for slashing, and Gilbert Brule got called for interference.

They spent the first two dancing around in the neutral zone and the third was negated by Jere Lehtinen getting two minutes for goalkeeper interference at 19:21.

The period ended 2-0 Oilers, despite the sloppy play that led to a good handful of Edmonton penalties.

The second period started, and it looked for a few minutes like the Stars might rally for a big comeback. 

Unfortunately, at 3:19, Grossman took a penalty for holding that put the Oilers on a power play. Then, a few minutes after his penalty expired, Robidas took his own two minutes for holding (6:50), effectively killing any momentum the team was trying to produce.

At 7:23, Penner picked up the rebound of Souray’s shot from the point and put it in the net behind a sprawling Turco. Horcoff got the second assist.

Now down 3-0, with their goaltender struggling, the Stars pretty much crumbled. Gone were the effective players we’d seen on NYE, replaced with a messy bunch that could barely hold onto the puck when they managed to gain possession. 

James Neal seemed determined to shoulder the team, being the only Star to get any shots on goal in the five minutes following the third Edmonton goal. 

When Penner got a minor for holding the stick, and the Stars only managed to get two shots off in the entire power play, the supposed comeback pulled further out of reach. Finally, as the period wound down, the team picked up the pace.

Neal was rewarded for his determination (as he usually is, because few things can successfully come between James Neal and whatever it is he’s determined to do) with barely two minutes left in the second period.

When Jere Lehtinen fired a shot from the point that found its way through traffic and off Roloson, the loose rebound was quickly retrieved by Neal, who then lobbed it into the net. Andrew Hutchinson was originally credited with the only assist, but it’s since been changed to Lehtinen. 

Just when it looked like all the fun in the second was over, Barch belatedly took Stortini’s offer to have a go with only 16 seconds left in the period.

They threw the gloves off right off the faceoff, with Barch getting a big hit in early that knocked Stortini’s helmet off. The fight continued for a good minute until the officials stepped in, neither player getting an actual win.

Both got five minutes for fighting, plus ten minute misconducts. Still don’t know why they got the extra 10, so if anyone knows, please feel free to explain.

The second ended 3-1 Oilers, with the Stars looking to hold off Edmonton while scoring 2 more goals in the last period of play.

Third period started.

Smid and Sutherby got simultaneous roughings at 2:05.

About five minutes in, Ethan Moreau escaped past Robidas for a breakaway that was pokechecked by a diving Turco. The rebound probably would have gotten pushed into the open net as Turco scrambled to recover, but Trevor Daley was there to clear to safety.  

When the third reached the halfway mark without any proper scoring chances generated by Dallas, and given the tone of the first two periods, it was pretty clear that the game would not be won without a little luck.

Luck was, unfortunately, not on our side.

When Daley took a penalty for holding at 12:38, the Oilers turned up their offense, pressuring Turco with traffic but only getting one clear shot on net. Only six seconds after the penalty expired, Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson set up Andrew Cogliano, who was left completely unattended in front of the net. At 14:44, the game slipped to 4-1, which proved to be too much for the faltering Stars. 

The final five minutes passed uneventfully, and it ended in a pretty painful loss of a valuable two points for the Stars.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Cole, Roloson, Souray
  • Neal’s goal was his 13th of the season, tying him for first among rookies with Boston’s Blake Wheeler.
  • Turco let in 4 goals on 19 shots for a sv% of .789, his worst since the 6-2 loss to San Jose on November 28th.
  • The loss was Richards’ 600th game, which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment; he played 21:15, had no points, and finished -1. 
  • Dallas outshot its opponent for the fifth game in a row, this time by a margin of 39-19.
  • Conclusion: Someone apparently forgot to tell the Stars that they were playing in the first of their two back-to-back games, not the second. They looked lethargic and apathetic for the most part, despite the efforts to build momentum from players like Neal and Barch. 

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for tying for the lead in hits but minus-two for the dumb penalty; -1
Stephane Robidas: minus-two for the dumb penalty; -2
Trevor Daley: minus-two for the dumb penalty; -2
Mike Modano: minus-one for not stepping up when the team needed a leader; -1
Krys Barch: one for each fight and one for not losing either; +3
James Neal: three for the goal, one for determination, and one for playing like the rest of the team should have been; +5
Brian Sutherby: one for tying for the lead in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: one for leading the team in SOG; +1
Landon Wilson: one for the fight and three alarm-points for making us realize how badly we want him to be uninjured; +4
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for not stepping up when the team needed a leader; -1
Brad Richards: minus-one for not stepping up and minus-one for leading in giveaways; -2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for being surprisingly sorely missed on that Ott-Ribeiro line; +1

January 1, 2009

Game Review – 12/31/08 (DAL vs NJD)

by Chelsea

Game:

While the highlight of the night may have been Craig Ludwig grabbing Renner by the face and force-feeding him silly string, we’re still very proud of our Dallas Stars.

They faced the New Jersey Devils, who looked to spoil the Stars’ New Year’s Eve with a repeat of that awful 5-0 domination earlier in the season. This time, however, the team had a sold-out American Airlines Center backing them up, and were looking to end 2008 with a big win.

The game started at 7:30, and initially, it looked like we were the ones who’d just played the night before. The Stars came out a bit flat-footed, struggling to keep up with some surprisingly energetic Devils. 

Zach Parise, the team-leader for New Jersey in goals, assists, points, +/-, PPGs, and SOGs, registered the game’s first shot on goal, testing Turco early.

He was then hit multiple times by Stephane Robidas. A warning, perhaps? 

From there, the both teams shot and hit at each other to no avail. 

At 4:03, Mike Modano was called for tripping, and went to serve his two minutes in the box. The Devils power play, headed by ex-Star and New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner, did more hitting than shooting, and Dallas escaped unscathed. 

Turco had a bit of an accident around seven minutes in, when he went to play the puck but had it poked away by John Madden, who then tried to sweep it in behind him. Fortunately, he hit the side of the net.

Landon Wilson bumped into Bobby Holik at 9:18, and Holik spun around and fell to the ice. While we understand that Wilson is pretty big and can easily knock people over, Holik happens to be an inch taller and ten pounds heavier. It’s possible that he has the worst balance of any hockey player ever, but we’re still not buying what he’s selling.

This incident gave the Devils another power play, as Wilson was called for interference. Langenbrunner got a shot off this time, and was promptly flattened by Robidas.

This and an untimely shift change led to Trevor Daley and Loui Eriksson streaking down the ice towards Jersey goalie Scott Clemmensen. Daley passed the puck between the only two Devils defenders to Eriksson, who fired a wicked wrist shot from the faceoff circle to Clemmensen’s left. The puck was in the net before he could even get his glove up. 

Eriksson’s 19th goal (also known as the team’s first shorthanded tally of the season) came at 10:09 and was assisted by Daley and Brad Richards.

The Devils pushed back, going on the attack at every opportunity, and finally managed to produce some offense as the first period clock wound down.

As the New Jersey announcer was busy wrongly calling Matt Niskanen “Nishkanen”, Brian Gionta moved to screen Turco, keeping him from stopping Mike Mottau’s wrist shot from the top of the slot. The goal, at 17:30, was assisted by Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta.

Soon after the Devils managed to tie the game, they were given a good chance to take the lead by the whistle-happy officials.

This time it was Stephane Robidas, who apparently was tripped/forced to the ice/fell and managed to hook Langenbrunner right before/on the way down/as he sat on the ice looking confused. He was escorted to the box at 18:10.

The Stars were not able to contain the power play this time, as David Clarkson redirected a centering shot past Turco and into the net. 

So we see that while lines have many uses (like organizing crowds and certain types of dances), they don’t work very well for defending in hockey.

The tie was broken at 19:36, and the assists went to Dainius Zubrus and Brian Gionta.

First period ended 2-1 Devils.

Second period started.

A minute in, and the Devils looked like they were coming in from the first with dangerous momentum. Gionta got a shot in on goal and Zubrus picked up the rebound, but Turco made a tremendous save to freeze the puck and hold the game within reach. 

Those would be the only two SOG that the Devils would have for the second period. To emphasize and rephrase, they got two shots on goal in the first minute, and none for the following 19 minutes. The Stars, meanwhile, would produce a hearty 19 for the period.

Barch, Petersen, and Grossman spent the next minute ruthlessly pounding the life out of the Devils, getting five solid hits between them in the 60-second span. 

Then it was Mike Ribeiro’s turn. He started his shift at 4:01, set the pace for it with a hit on Paul Martin, outskated every Devil who came near him, and stayed out when his line changed to center Barch and Wilson on their shift. His unstoppable energy and stick handling set up the Stars to tie the game.

Ribeiro claimed the puck behind the net by shaking off Madden, played a quick passing game with Barch, and then sent a pass between the legs of Bryce Salvador out in front of the net to Wilson. Topping the play off at 5:39, Wilson shoveled the puck past Clemmensen to make it a 2-2 game.

He just about mauled Ribeiro in celebration. Ribeiro responded by mauling Barch. 

It’s a good thing that people don’t celebrate this way outside of hockey, or there’d probably be a lot of violent misunderstandings.

Steve Ott, meanwhile, was spending his shifts skating around running his mouth and squashing people. This started to really get on the Devils’ nerves, which may have something to do with the penalty Holik got at 8:26 for hooking him.

This put the Stars on their first man advantage of the evening.

Now, we were alerted before the game about Mark Parrish and how much he enjoyed scoring against the Devils. In fact, he actually had more career points than any other Star against New Jersey, with 15 goals and 9 assists for 24 points in 37 games. Coupled with the reminder that three of his four goals came on the power play, it seemed almost inevitable that he would score.

He did not disappoint. A hectic assault on the net lead to Richards getting his stick on a shot from Robidas and a scramble for the following rebound. Parrish got there first, sliding the puck between the goalie and the defenseman who was helping play goalie to break the tie at 9:58.

Not really sure why Clemmensen was out of his crease or why Jay Leach was in it, but their mistake worked very nicely for the Stars. Not to mention for Parrish, whose relief at having scored his first goal since November was almost tangible. 

Andy Greene got two minutes for hooking at 10:40, but they killed off that penalty.

At 18:47, the Devils crashed the net again, but more literally this time. Clarkson went flying into Turco, wiping himself, our netminder, and our net out in one clumsy move. Someone scored during the mayhem, but the goal was obviously and immediately disallowed, due to the fact that Clarkson was still laying on Turco and the net was dislodged. 

The consequential goalie interference penalty and the penalty Martin got at 19:37 for blatantly cross checking Neal across the numbers gave the Stars a 5-on-3 to end the second period.

Second period ended. Ric Renner sprayed Ludwig with silly string during intermission, and we all thought Ludy was about to properly strangle him.

Third period started.

Naturally, the entire power play passed with a bunch of swirling the puck around the offensive zone but nobody managing to score. 

Clemmensen came out with some big saves for his team, stopping a string of shots from players like Mike Modano, Brad Richards, and Jere Lehtinen. It was very annoying.

Andrew Hutchinson got a minor for holding at 8:01, but the Stars held on to their small lead, limiting the Devils to only one shot on goal for the entire two minutes.

The third period consisted of 26 shots on goal and 23 hits between the two teams, including a nearly-disastrous breakaway. 

About 17 minutes into the third, a pass through the neutral zone sprung Elias with a perfect opportunity to tie the game. Entering the Dallas zone ahead of lone defenseman Stephane Robidas, he charged in against Turco and tried to score five-hole. The puck slipped between Turco’s knees, but he “squeezed the pads”, hoped for the best, and managed to stop what would have been a morale- and lead-ruining goal.

New Jersey went empty net with 00:53 in a last-ditch attempt to force overtime.

Turco’s save in the following onslaught left the puck loose in the corner, where Richards picked it up and carried it down into center ice. He shot it from there towards the empty net, where it went wide and around to the side. Eriksson showed up ahead of the Devils to grab the puck and toss it into the unguarded net at 19:19.

The goal was his 2nd of the game and 20th of the season, and was assisted by Richards.

The players basically skated in circles for the next forty seconds, and the game ended 4-2 Stars!

Ludwig repayed Renner the favor from earlier by grabbing him with one hand and holding him still while he covered him in silly string. A round of applause for Ludwig and whoever armed him with his own can of silly string. 

(photos by Matt Slocum)

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: Richards, Clemmensen, Eriksson
  • The game was Trevor Daley’s 300th career game.
  • It was the first time the Stars won their annual NYE game since 2002.
  • Marty Turco made 25 saves on 27 shots for a sv% of .926
  • Both teams scored on 1 of 4 power plays.
  • Conclusion: The big names (Richards, Turco, Ribeiro) acted like the big names, the young stars (Eriksson, Niskanen, Grossman, Neal) played like the young stars, and the hard workers (Parrish, Wilson, Barch, Ott) were rewarded for their hard work. It was the kind of win that a team can build a run on.

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: one for being a physical powerhouse; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one for leading in SOG, but minus-one for the penalty that the Devils scored on; +2
Matt Niskanen: one for a pretty solid defensive game; +1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for utilizing his speed; +3
Krys Barch: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: one for a solid game; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal, one for style, and one for reaching 20 goals; +8
Landon Wilson: three for the goal and one for the following celebration; +4
Jere Lehtinen: one for leading in takeaways; +1
Steve Ott: one for leading in hits again and two for being an awesome agitator; +3
Marty Turco: two for the big saves and one for the game-saving breakaway save; +3
Mark Parrish: three for the goal and one for determination; +4
Darryl Sydor: one for leading in blocked shots; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for the otherwise good game; +3
Brad Richards: two for each assist and one for setting up Loui for his 20th goal; +7