Posts tagged ‘Colorado Avalanche’

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.

September 17, 2009

And We’re Off!

by Kristine

Pre-season is officially under way for the Dallas Stars. They’ve now played two games: a win over Tampa Bay, and a loss to Colorado. Tyler Beskorowany impressed in net for the second half of Wednesday’s game, and it was announced after that the Stars signed him to an entry-level three year contract. As expected, today he was sent to his OHL team, the Kingston Frontenacs. Tomas Vincour was the first forward to be sent down, to the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. The Stars are starting to trim the roster back, one prospect at a time, which means the race for opening night is officially on.

The official release announcing Vincour and Besko’s reassignments can be found here, and game recaps can be found here for Tampa and here for Colorado.

April 11, 2009

SHR +/- “OMG Are We Really That Far Behind?” Catch-up

by Chelsea

When the Stars were pretty much eliminated (and then officially eliminated), we kinda went “so what’s the plan for the blog in the postseason, then?” and basically fell asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, we’ve also sorely neglected our duties (like the +/-) for the end of the regular season.

On that note, here are the +/-s for the large handful of games we were missing.


3/24/09 – DAL vs VAN:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: one for sticking up for Turco; +1
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal; +3
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: two for having a ridiculous 7 takeaways and 0 giveaways; +2
Mark Fistric: two for the assist but minus-one for his exceptionaly careless penalty; +1
Steve Ott: minus-two for acting like a thug instead of helping his team; -2
Marty Turco: minus-two for not helping his teammates out and making only 17 saves on 21 shots; -2
Steve Begin: two for the assist; +2


3/26/09 – DAL vs LAK:

Stephane Robidas: one for playing 27:01 to pick up Daley’s slack when he went out; +1
Trevor Daley: one 😦 point for getting injured; +1
Krys Barch: one for standing up for Daley and one 😦 point for getting hurt in the process; +2
Landon Wilson: two for getting nine really solid hits; +2
Jere Lehtinen: one for the shootout goal; +1
Mark Fistric: two for a really solid game; +2
Marty Turco: three for pitching a shutout and earning the team a point, but minus-one for an iffy shootout performance that lost them the other point; +2


3/28/09 – DAL vs FLA

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: 😦 ; +1
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal; +3
Brendan Morrison: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and two for not having any giveaways for the sixth game in a row; +4
Chris Conner: three for the goal; +3
Mark Fistric: 😦 ; +1
Steve Ott: two for the assist but minus-two for continuing to act like a thug; +0
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for the assist, but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +4


3/30/09 – DAL at PHX:

Dan Jancevski: one welcometoDallas! point; +1
Matt Niskanen: two for each assist; +4
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Andrew Hutchinson: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Garrett Stafford: two for each assist and one welcometoDallas! point; +5
Darryl Sydor: three for the goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +5


3/31/09 – DAL at LAK:

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Brendan Morrison: three for each goal; +6
James Neal: minus-one for being overrated; -1
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchinson: one for the solid game; +1
Steve Ott: two for each assist; +4
Marty Turco: one for playing decently; +1
Steve Begin: one for getting six hits; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, one for style, but minus-one for STILL stinking at faceoffs; +3


4/02/09 – DAL at CGY:

Matt Niskanen: one for learning how to get more than one (probably accidental) hit in a game and one for leading the team in shots on goal; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for a decent showing; +1
Joel Lundqvist: two for the assist: +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for scoring the team’s only goal and one for style; +4


4/04/09 – DAL vs STL

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: three for the goal and one for saving the game in the third period; +4
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal; +6
Tom Wandell: two for each assist; +4
Chris Conner: minus-one for being the only one with a -2; -1
Steve Ott: three for the goal and one for not being thug-Ott anymore; +4
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and one for being an impressive +4; +3
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2


4/07/09 – DAL at MIN:

Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Ivan Vishnevskiy: one welcometoDallas! point; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist but minus-one for really really stinking at faceoffs; +1
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


4/09/09 – DAL at COL:

Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Tom Wandell: one for improving at faceoffs; +1
Mark Fistric: two for the assist; +2
Mark Parrish: three for the goal; +3
Ivan Vishnevskiy: two for the assist and one for having a wicked shot from the point; +3
Mike Ribeiro: one for that shootout goal and one for style; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


4/10/09 – DAL at ANA:

Last-game-of-the-season special edition.

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading in hits and two for having stepped up big-time as a physical stay-at-home defenseman; +3
Stephane Robidas: one 😦 point for having not gotten to play the last few games of the season, two for carrying the entire defense on his shoulders all year, and one for escaping this season with his nose intact; +4
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for finally showing that he can play without his training wheels (Sydor); +3
Trevor Daley: one 😦 point for having not gotten to play the last few games of the season and one for stepping into the #2 role nicely; +2
Mike Modano: two for his age-defying efforts at the beginning of the season and one don’t-end-your-career-this-way-please point; +3
Brenden Morrow: five points for how ridiculously sorry we are that the Stars didn’t push their season far enough to allow Morrow to come back and play; +5
Brendan Morrison: one thankyou point for stepping up and scoring PPGs when nobody else could; +1
Krys Barch: one 😦 point for missing the last games of the season and two for being the trustworthy (and frightful) Stars cop; +3
Sean Avery: one thankyou point for finding somewhere really far from Dallas and staying there, but minus-six for sticking us with half of that bloated contract and getting what he wanted in the end anyway; -5
Toby Petersen: one 😦 point for having missed the last few games of the season; +1
James Neal: minus-one point for the mixture of severe tunnel-vision (“puckpuckpuckpuckpuck”) and ego (“RAHHH I’M JAMES NEAL”) that lead to him being less-than-effective as the season went on but two determination points for having still tried; +1
Brian Sutherby: two points for coming onto the team from a rival, being willing to work hard, and making a place for himself; +2
Loui Eriksson: one for ending the season on a thirteen-game streak of not having a single giveaway, two for leading the team in goals and for being the 3o-goal-scorer we needed when Morrow went out, one for leading the team in +/-, and one for escaping injury and not missing a single game all season; +5
Landon Wilson: two for being dependable, stepping up as someone who gave 100% when the rest of the team looked mentally exhausted, and putting up with getting scratched way too often; +2
Tom Wandell: one for being a Swedish rockstar; +1
Chris Conner: one for constantly creating chances with his surprising speed; +1
Jere Lehtinen: one for leading the team with 8 shots on goal, one for being the Legendary Leaping Lehtinen, and two please-please-please-take-a-hometown-discount-because-we’d-cry-if-the-Stars-let-you-go points; +4
Andrew Hutchinson: two thankyou points for going from healthy scratch to dependable veteran when Robidas and Daley went out, and doing it admirably; +2
Mark Fistric: one for coming back up from the AHL as the hard-hitting defenseman we all remembered from last year’s playoffs and one for not backing his butt up into Turco’s face as a “defensive maneuver” anymore; +2
Steve Ott: three for each goal, two for the assist, one for the highly-entertaining clip of him sitting on the bench making faces at the Ducks through the plexiglass, and two for growing into a better player and leader; +11
Tobias Stephan: two 😦 points for ending up as the #3 goalie and not getting a decent chance to prove himself because Tippett is stubborn and used Stephan’s career to make a point which is dumb and we could rant about it all day but won’t, two hopeful points for moving on from the Stars after this season, and one sad goodbye point; +5
Marty Turco: minus-one for apparently going from a good shootout goalie to a super-impatient flop-across-the-crease one, minus-two for being Mr. Inconsistent all season, but one for taking responsibility for it, two for his strong play in the middle of the season, and one for showing enough flashes of awesome that we’re reminded there’s still an All-Star under there somewhere; +1
Mark Parrish: two for seeming to have an unbeatable optimistic attitude and two because we have a feeling he won’t be around next season and would be very very sad to see him go; +4
Joel Lundqvist: one 😦 point for having not really come back from his shoulder injury as the Lundqvist we remembered from last season and two because we’re worried Sutherby stole his spot and we’d be very sad to see him go; +3
Phillipe Boucher: two because he is awesome even if he has to play for the Penguins; +2
BJ Crombeen: yaayyyy at least one of our rookies gets a chance at the Cup this season; +2
Steve Begin: two points for sacrificing himself on the PK every night and being a very solid player for the Stars; +2
Darryl Sydor: one 😦 point because he missed the last period of the season, another because his future with the Stars is so uncertain, and one for being Niskanen and then Vishnevskiy’s training wheels; +3
Sergei Zubov: three pleeeeasseee-take-a-hometown-discount-and-come-back-next-season-our-PP-needs-you-so-bad points; +3
Ivan Vishnevskiy: two for the assist and one for looking a little bit like a baby Zubov out there; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist, minus-one for the dumb penalties, one for leading the team in points and matching his assists from last year, and one for (thankfully!!) not missing a single game all season; +5
Brad Richards: one 😦 point for the tragic comedy that is his injury situation, one for being an important player when he was playing, and one for proving us wrong about his importance by showing us what happens to the team when he’s not there; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for ending the season by playing impressive hockey and showing everyone a preview of what they can look forward to next season; +6

March 21, 2009

NHL Overall Team +/- Examination

by Kristine

The Stars take on the Sharks tonight, but before they do I’d just like to point something out. Everyone knows that +/- doesn’t tell the whole story. However, I think it does tell some of the story. For example, check out what you find when you compare the overall team +/- score for the top five and bottom five teams in the league, with the Stars thrown in the middle…

1. DET   +177
2. SJS   +112
3. BOS   +281
4. NJD   +218
5. WSH   +110

21. DAL   -40

26. PHX    -163
27. COL   -188
28. ATL   -93
29. TBL   -148
30. NYI   -220

Obviously a team’s overall +/- is more related to the success of the team than people may realize.

Last season the Stars ended +85 and 8th in the league. In an even more drastic change, Colorado ended +73 and 10th in the league. First place Detroit ended +235 and last place Tampa ended -148. 21st place went to the Cancucks, who finished the season with a +2. Of course, there are anomonlies, almost entirely on the negative side – the Sharks finished second in the league last season, but with a -3; the Oilers finished with a horrid -156 but managed to pull 19th place overall. However, the basic trend is that the higher in the standings a team is, the better its plus-minus is going to be, and vice versa. So is having a strong team plus-minus the key to regular season success? I don’t claim to know for sure either way, but it’s an interesting stat to take into account.

February 9, 2009

SHR +/- Catch Up

by Chelsea

1/21/09 – DAL at FLA:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley:  minus-one for being the only Star with a negative +/-: -1
Mike Modano: three for the goal; +3
Krys Barch: one for tying for the lead in hits; +1
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the asisst; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for a solid game; +1
Joel Lundqvist: one for tying for the lead in hits; +1
Darryl Sydor: one for leading in +/-; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for each goal and one for leading in shots on goal; +10 
Brad Richards: one for the assist; +1 

2/05/09 – DAL at COL: 

Matt Niskanen: two for each assist and one for leading in takeaways; +5
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: three for the goal and one for leading in SOG; +4 
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for doing so poorly in faceoffs; -1
Brad Richards: minus-one for doing so poorly in faceoffs; -1

January 29, 2009

Game Review – 1/27/09 (DAL vs ATL)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Atlanta Thrashers came to town in for the first time in a number of years, and were greeted by a very sparse crowd. Thanks to some especially icy weather, most Stars fans were confined to their couches and TVs. 

With both teams fully rested after the All-Star break, it seemed like both would give a good show, despite what the standings implied. 

Stephane Robidas returned from his weekend stint in Montreal sans face cage, mentioning that the probably-permanent metal plate in his jaw made it stronger than it had been before. 

Besides Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov, the only still-injured Stars are Fabian Brunnstrom, Landon Wilson, and Steve Ott. Brunnstrom was recently assigned to the Manitoba Moose for a few days, after which he’ll be returning to the Stars’ lineup finally. Wilson’s still nursing a rib injury and there’s been no timetable set for his return. Ott, of course, has been playing, but as far as we’ve heard as not been cleared to fight with his still-healing hand. 

Mark Parrish was scratched for Chris Conner, apparently because he’s coming down with the flu. Get well soon, Parrish!

A couple of nice streaks coming into this game that are worth noting: Marty Turco entered the contest with a career record of 5-0-0 against Atlanta, and Thrasher superstar Ilya Kovalchuk had never scored a goal against Dallas in the 7 times he’d faced them. 

The first period started, the teams meeting each other’s shots, hits, and puck battle wins. However, it became clear which team wanted it more when Jere Lehtinen displayed some unexpected creativity in putting the puck behind fellow-Finn and Thrashers netminder Kari Lehtonen. 

Right off the bat, the Ott-Ribeiro-Lehtinen line had the same energy that made them such a force in the Panthers game (Ribeiro with a hat trick, Ott and Lehtinen each with an assist) and it once again paid off. Only 3:48 into the first, Ott stole the puck from a Thrasher and fed it up to Ribeiro, who threw it haphazardly towards Lehtonen. Lehtonen made the save, but the puck bounced up into the chest of Jere Lehtinen and he bumped it down into the net. 

The call on the ice was a goal, and the call stood despite further review. 

There had been some question from us about why the Thrashers have had such a rough season. It seemed to us that they had more than enough talent and an experienced if unproven coach. However, when instead of rallying after the Dallas goal, they followed it with a string of giveaways and penalties, the picture was a little clearer.

When two Thrashers took penalties within 30 seconds of each other, they all but gift-wrapped another goal for the Stars. However, the power play only managed a few shots on goal, and soon it was at even strength again. 

Marty Turco positively robbed Kovalchuk of the game-tying goal at 13:14 after he was left unattended in front of the net, making a sharp and much-appreciated save to hold Dallas’ lead.

Atlanta got their first power play when Krys Barch took a penalty at 15:07 for holding, but nearly surrendered a short-handed goal to Loui Eriksson. 

The first period ended 1-0 Dallas. 

Second period began.

In the first few seconds, the official raised his arm to signify a delayed penalty against the Thrashers. However, the Stars maintained possession as Ribeiro’s line struck yet again.

Ribeiro displayed some stickhandling wizardry to keep the puck away from the Thrashers, helped by Lehtinen, long enough to complete a pass down low to Trevor Daley. As Ott moved in front of the crease and shook off Rich Peverley, Daley slid the puck out in front. Ott buried it in the net at 00:28, negating the penalty before it was ever enforced. 


With the game set at 2-0, it became a good old-fashioned goalie showdown. Lehtonen on one end, fighting to keep the game within reach for his struggling team and Turco on the other, fighting to seal his team’s second consecutive win.

Lehtonen finished the second period by backing his team through two penalty kills, holding them within reach of the Stars two-goal lead. His team didn’t produce much offense, though, testing Turco with only 6 shots.

Second period ended, third period started.

The final period of the game would prove to be a test for both teams. For the Thrashers, the third is typically when they stepped up their game. For the Stars, a game with two strong periods to start usually ended in disappointment. 

Each team took a penalty in the third, but Atlanta finally managed to turn the momentum in their favor. Turco was peppered with more shots (13) in the third period than he’d faced in the entire first and second (12). This was mainly thanks to the heroic netminding of Kari Lehtonen, who blanked the Stars continually. Meanwhile, the rest of the Thrashers looked a little lazy with the puck.

Plenty of Stars fans will remember the game against the Avalanche in which it seemed Turco might get his first shut out of the season in a 1-0 game, only to let in a goal with less than a minute on the clock and put the game all the way to a shootout.

The Thrashers looked to create a similar situation when they pulled their goalie and put the pressure on the Stars. Turco responded by shutting it down and making a number of big in-close saves to claim his first shut out win of the season.

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game, in order: Turco, Ott, Lehtonen
  • Turco made 25 saves on 25 shots. Ott ended with a goal and an assist. Lehtonen made 31 saves on 33 shots.
  • The Stars outshot the Thrashers 33-25. 
  • Ribeiro’s two assists give him seven points in his last four games.
  • Conclusion: After a run that saw every game ended in overtime or a shootout, the Stars have now won their last two in regulation. Turco’s shutout and the team’s ability to stand up consistently in front of him were also a nice change. Can they reach that illusive 3-game win streak against Detroit?

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: one for embracing his physical side; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for tying for the team lead in +/- with +2; +1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +3
Mike Modano: one for leading in takeaways; +1
Toby Petersen: minus-one for returning to his low-impact ways; -1
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and one for tying for the team lead in +/-;  +4
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for leading the team in hits, and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +7
Marty Turco: three for the shut out and one for winning it; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +5

January 27, 2009

Game Day Update

by Kristine

Now that the excitement of the All-Star Game has died down, it’s back to business for the Stars. The biggest news of the day comes from Andrew’s, who reports that Fabian Brunnstrom will be playing a few games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) and is expected back in the lineup this weekend at Columbus. Great news! Bunny brings a certain spark to games that we feel has been missing since he’s been out. It’s interesting that he’s being sent down for a few games when they were so adamant about not sending him down at the beginning of the season, but it will be good for him to get up to speed and get his game legs back before he returns at the NHL level. Not to mention he’ll be in good hands – the Moose are second in the entire AHL, behind only Washington’s farm team the Hershey Bears and down by only one point.

On to tonight. It’s a big game day if you look at the standings. A lot of the games involve teams we are currently battling with for that elusive 8th seed – not surprising when you consider almost the entire West is in the running for it. First up, Columbus takes on Detroit. It wouldn’t do us many favors for Detroit to win, because we play them Thursday. However, not only do we play the Blue Jackets this weekend, they’re also currently sitting one spot above us with 49 points. So they need to lose more than Detroit needs to lose. Next up, Minnesota hosts Toronto tonight. Obviously, the Leafs need to win this one. Minnesota is 9th in the West with 49 points. Later in the night, San Jose will be paying the Avalanche a visit. Even though the Sharks are in our division, we have no real hope of catching up to them; the Avalanche, however, are 12th with 47 points. The Stars, for the record, also have 47 points and have played two fewer games than the Avs, winning us the 11th spot in the West. While the Sharks and Avs fight it out, the Oilers will be taking on the Sabres. The Oil is another team battling for a playoff spot, only they’re fighting to keep theirs. They’re 6th in the West with 51 points, but 7th and 8th place Canucks and Ducks also have 51 points. A loss tonight would keep them within reach for the Stars. Finally, in the biggest lose-lose of the night, the Coyotes are hosting the Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. Both teams are in playoff seeds as it stands now. The Coyotes are 5th with 53 points and the Ducks are 8th with 51 points. If anything, it would be most beneficial to the Stars for the Coyotes to win as they are at least a little farther ahead already and thus a little harder to catch up to.

Now for the Big Ifs. If we win tonight, and if the Jackets and the Wild both lose, the Stars will be tied with them for 49 points. As we have fewer games than both of them, that would put us at 9th place, and one win out of the playoffs. Continuing hypothetically, if the teams that need to lose continue to lose, and the Stars beat Detroit on Thursday, we’ll have 51 points and fewer games than Edmonton, Vancouver, and Anaheim – landing us firmly in the 6th spot. So now that we know what needs to happen short-term for the Stars to claim their playoff seed, it’s time to tidy up your shrines and start making offerings to the hockey gods.  You can start by asking for a win tonight at the AAC. Go Stars!

December 12, 2008

Game Review – 12/10/08 (DAL vs PHX)

by Chelsea

Game:

There was an indiscernible good feeling going into this game. The Avery situation was being dealt with, we had a new center and an actual fourth line in Swedish import Tom Wandell, and were coming off a slight but much-needed win against Colorado.

Of course, assuming you know how the game ended, that good feeling did not bring us the start of a winning streak. Instead, it was quickly converted into a grimace-inducing loss.

The first period started with a bit of hope. Rookie James Neal spent some time exchanging hits with Todd Fedoruk, a big hitter with nearly 40 pounds on Neal. Fedoruk, who did not register points, but made an effort to be a giant physical pain all night.

Shortly after, the first of many unnecessary penalties was taken, by Coyote Zbynek Michalek, at 2:04 for sending the puck over the glass. Whoops.

The two minutes passed with the Stars only getting 1 shot on goal, from RW Mark Parrish. How many times do they have to be told to shoot the puck on the man advantage?

The PP did give Dallas strong momentum, though, and it turned into points shortly after Phoenix returned to full strength.

The production came from a fast, well-orchestrated play from Chris Conner to  Toby Petersen, and then from Petersen to Trevor Daley.  Daley took a shot off from the faceoff circle left of Bryzgalov that rang off the post and into the net, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead 4:34 into the first. I believe, though I’m not entirely positive, that it was the first goal from a Dallas defenseman since Matt Niskanen scored on October 29th against the Minnesota Wild.

Darryl Sydor joined in the fun at 4:50, flipping the puck off the ice and getting 2 minutes for it.

Phoenix captain Shane Doan pretty much dominated that PP, nearly scoring on Turco and doing his best to squash Mike Ribeiro. No PPG for them, though. Towards the end of the PK, Loui Erikkson got a scoring opportunity against Bryzgalov, unfortunately stopped.

Not even three minutes after taking an early lead, the Stars saw it slip away. At 7:19, Martin Hanzal wreaked some emotional havoc for the first of two times in the game. With half of the Stars on the ice getting tricked and confused behind the net, and Turco unable to slid across his crease fast enough, Hanzal slid the puck barely between Turco and the post to tie the game. Unlucky Breaks Tally (things that, had they not happened, would have kept Dallas from being a crumbly mess): 1.

Viktor Tikhonov and Zbynek Michalek with assists.

Brad Richards got all flustered or something? Got his second regular season penalty as a Star for holding the stick at 8:10. D’oh! Richards. Do I directly blame him for the following goal? No, but only because penalties are so rare from him. Otherwise, well, you can’t get scored on during the PK if you don’t have guys in the box to begin with.

At 9:49, Olli Jokinen, returning to the lineup for the first time since his shoulder injury, tipped a puck in past Turco from a blue line shot by Ed Jovanovski. Second assist went to Derek Morris.

However, not even a minute later (10:26), Mikkel Boedker got a holding penalty on Chris Conner and put the Stars on a critical power play.

The game was re-tied shortly after, during the consequential power play, when James Neal found himself with a puck and a partially open net. Stephane Robidas faked a shot, drawing Bryzgalov out of position, only to pass the puck to Neal, who steadied it and put it in the net.

The goal came at 10:58, with Mike Modano getting the second assist.

There were four more penalties in the first. Tikhonov got a hooking minor for the Coyotes. Andrew Hutchinson got the third delay of game penalty for the Stars. Then, Enver Lisin and Derek Morris took back-to-back cross checking penalties. Despite all the man advantages and a 5-on-3 in favor of the Stars, the score remained tied exiting the first.

Somewhere in here, Stephane Robidas took a puck/stick (I believe it is the latter, but have heard it was the former) in the mouth, leaving plenty of blood on the ice and would not return until midway through the second period. Anyone know for sure how it happened?

Second period.

Started on a power play. Then, at 3:13, got another one when Lisin got two minutes for hooking Sydor. Shockingly, the Stars did not score on their power play.

In typical Stars fashion, as two minutes is not enough time for them to convert momentum into scoring, the goal came a little bit later.

It was off another fast play from a lower line (Brunnstrom-Petersen-Conner, I believe?) that led to Conner setting up Fabian “Tiebreaker Bunny” Brunnstrom out in front of the net. And so the tie was broken. 3-2 Stars at 8:35 in the second, Conner and Sydor with the assists.

Things went pretty well for awhile after that, despite a couple untimely penalties and pathetic power plays. Trevor Daley, who saved a goal somewhere in the first by backing up Turco and clearing the puck from his crease, would eat any points he would have earned by taking a stupid penalty that changed the momentum of the game.

Basically, Daniel Carcillo, who had been in the box for knocking over Turco who totally sold it as goalie interference by being really easy to knock over, managed to sneak out of the sin bin with remarkable timing. Daley, who let Carcillo sneak up and grab the puck between him and Turco without even realizing, suddenly found himself chasing a possibly problematic breakaway. So, what did he do? He tried to chop Carcillo down like a tree by slashing him in the legs. Thus, setting up the Coyotes for a power play of their own.

Jokinen, on PP fire, made sure to punish Daley thoroughly. At 19:56 in the third, during a frantic PK that was barely holding on to their team’s lead, Marty Turco was thrown horribly out of position and left a gaping net for Jokinen, who took full advantage. Jovanovski and Mueller got the assists.

Second period ended with a major blow, and a loss of momentum not to be regained.

Third period. Mm. That fuse that the ‘Yotes lit in the second? It’d set off a big time explosion not too long after.

Only five minutes in, Turco left his crease to retrieve the puck, hitting it around the boards behind his net. As he slowwllly wannddered back to his crease, the puck bounced oddly and unfortunately off Daley’s stick. Unlucky Breaks Tally: 2. The puck hopped out eagerly in front of the net, where Martin Hanzal just so happened to be. While Matt Niskanen dived out in front of the still-empty net, Hanzal had no trouble getting it past him, and it suddenly became a chasing game again.

I timed it. Is there any reason it takes Turco 6 seconds to get from the board to his net? We saw Tobias Stephan move from the crease to the bench in about 2 seconds. Come on, Turco, would a little hustle kill you? Ergggg. Even Niskanen saw it coming and thought fast enough to try and stop it.

The goal came at 5:21 and was unassisted (and giftwrapped. Merry Christmas!).

The Stars tried to fight back unsuccessfully. Neal got a little violent and took his anger out on Carcillo, much to our delight. Carcillo, meet Neal; Carcillo, meet ice.

As the clock wound down, the Stars (very stupidly – do they watch their own PPs?) went empty net. The puck bounced through center ice soooon after, Steven Reinprecht picked it up, Robidas was the nearest Star and still all the way across the ice. He couldn’t catch up, Reinprecht has enough skill to score in an empty net, and it was 5-3 Coyotes.

Goal was at 19:36, with assists to Shane Doan and Ilya Bryzgalov.

Notes:

  • Three game stars, in order: Jokinen, Neal, Hanzal
  • Despite missing a large chunk of the game getting stitched up, and spending the rest occassionally dripping blood onto the ice, Stephane Robidas led the team in TOI with 25:14.
  • Speaking of Robidas, he also tied with Toby Petersen for most SOG (4), tallied an assist, and ended the game even in +/-.
  • James Neal led the team in takeaways (3) and Grossman and Daley tied for most blocked shots with 4 each.
  • Brad Richards had the worst +/- at -3, tallied no points, and only got 1 SOG in over twenty minutes of ice time.
  • Turco stopped 29 of 33 shots for a .879 sv%.
  • Tom Wandell made his debut, but only got six minutes and did not register any points.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for tying for the lead in hits and blocked shots; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and two for a good game despite playing with a bloody mouth; +4
Trevor Daley: three for the goal, one for the goal he prevented, minus-two for the stupid penalty, and minus-two for the goal he giftwrapped; +0
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Krys Barch: two for tying for the lead in most hits; +2
Toby Petersen: two for the assist and one for an otherwise good game; +3
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: one for his debut; +1
Chris Conner: two for each assist; +4
Marty Turco: minus-two for icky savelessness; -2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: minus-one for the team worst +/- and minus-one for the rare stupid penalty; -2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3

December 6, 2008

Game Review – 12/05/08 (DAL vs COL)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars returned home to face the Avalanche at the AAC. Both teams played without their captains, both looking to climb their way up closer to a playoff spot.

Having just been dealt a painful loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Stars brought their game faces to the night’s contest. Eriksson-Richards-Wilson acted as the starting lineup, with Robidas-Grossman on defense.

One end of the ice housed Marty Turco, who was tested not even a minute into the first period by Milan Hejduk. He made the save easily and with a limited amount of scrambling, setting a precedence for the rest of the game.

Doug Janik played as a fourth line forward, but during his first shift he exchanged hits with Chris Stewart. Though there’s no proof that Janik exited the ice worse for the wear, he did not get another shift for the entire game.

The first penalty of the game came at 7:09 when Ruslan Salei got a minor for tripping. It was followed by a lackluster Stars powerplay without any shots on goal.

The next power play (at 10:58, when Brent Clark got 2 for holding the stick) looked no better, also resulting in no shots on goal.

The final Avalanche penalty of the first game came at 16:48 when Daniel Tjarnqvist tripped Toby Petersen. Though the man advantage failed to produce once more, it did look better, with James Neal nearly cramming the puck past Budaj.

Turco made an excellent save on Paul Stastny at the end of the first, but an attempt to stop him from even getting a shot off, Stephane Robidas earned himself a hooking minor.

The first period ended 0-0, with the Stars outshooting the Avalanche 8-7.

Despite starting the second period on PK thanks to Robidas’ slip-up in the first, Dallas managed to build a bit of moment by successfully holding back the Avalanche.

Trevor Daley ate some of the momentum as he sat in the sin bin, having gotten called for interference at 3:38 – only two minutes after Robidas’ penalty expired. However, the Stars refused Colorado once again, leaving the PK unscathed.

A minute after returning to full strength, the Stars were on the assault again. As the puck cycled around the Avalanche’s zone, Matt Niskanen kept it from being cleared with a catch on the blue line and a pass to Mike Modano. Modano shot the puck, and Toby Petersen swept in to catch the feed and tip it in past Budaj.

Stars went up 1-0 at 7:57 with what would come to be their sole regulation goal.

Nicklas Grossman took the last penalty of the game at 11:25 in the second. Avalanche didn’t score, putting both teams at 0-for-3 for the night’s PPs.

The period ended 1-0 Stars, probably the first time all season that they held the opposition off the scoreboard for the first two periods.

Third period.

Both teams got ample scoring opportunities, but the game held at 1-0 for the majority of the period. Turco made some big saves, doing his best to steal a win for his apparently offensively-challenged teammates.

Turco came within 56 seconds of a shut out. Unfortunately, the Avalanche were not to be denied, and set up a killer play that resulted in a ridiculous amount of crease traffic and the puck flying over Turco’s shoulder. The goal was scored by Marek Svatos with assists from Stastny and Ryan Smyth.

As regulation ended and overtime loomed, we reflected on the records so far this season. The Stars had gone into 4 overtimes and lost all of them, including two shootout losses. Colorado had yet to lose in overtime and were on a shootout winning streak, having won all four of theirs this season and the last four from the season before.

Overtime passed with neither teams scoring, pushing the game into a fairly dreaded shootout.

First up for the Stars was Brad Richards, who went with a simple wrist shot that Budaj stopped.

First for the Avalanche was Wojtek Wolski, who also went with a wrister. His made it past Turco, putting shootout at 1-0 in their favor.

Next for Dallas was Fabian Brunnstrom, presumably awarded with his first shootout attempt for having a strong game that night. He tried a slow backhand that was also stopped.

With the game on the line and Svatos up next, Turco came up with a big save and kept the shootout at 1-0.

With the game still on the line, Tippett sent out Mike Ribeiro. He stood 1-2 on the shootout so far this season, having tried a creative between-the-legs move both times. This time, he threw off Budaj’s timing and popped the puck into the net with a simple but highly-effective wrist shot.

With the shootout now at 1-1 and Colorado sending out their last shooter, it was again in Turco’s hands. Hejduk did his best, but was also stopped by Turco, sending the SO into a fourth round.

Mike Modano was the fourth shooter for the Stars, and he also used a smart, simple move to beat Budaj. He eased up to the goaltender, flicking the puck past him with a smooth wrist shot that was oddly familiar. The puck went up, popped off Budaj’s glove, and went behind him into the net.

Turco, again with all the “game’s up to you” pressure, was left facing a determined Smyth, who had to score to push a fifth round. Smyth didn’t do so hot, Turco made a solid save, and the Stars won their first shootout of the season.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Petersen, Svatos, Turco
  • My three game stars, in order: Turco, Svatos, Modano
  • The Stars are now at 10-12-4 and, with 24 points, no longer sit in the league’s cellar. That right belongs to the Atlanta Thrashers (8-14-3, 19 points).
  • Marty Turco stopped 26 of 27 shots for a sparkling .962 sv%
  • Mike Ribeiro is now 2/3 in this season’s shootouts, and Modano is 1/2.
  • James Neal led the team in SOG (5), followed closely by Toby Petersen (4).
  • Out of the 3 games in which Sean Avery has been suspended, the Stars have now won 2, backing up the best stretch of 10 games they’ve had this season (5-4-1)
  • Matt Niskanen now has 3 points in the last four games. Toby Petersen is on a four-game four-point streak.
  • Conclusion: It was a good win, coming despite all the injuries, drama, and barely-plugged roster holes. Still, the power play is a sore spot, having only produced twice in the last 37 chances. Toby Petersen is stepping up his game, but with Joel Lundqvist’s impending return, he could be seeing a lot more time on the wing. If Turco can continue to play well and the special teams righted, the Stars could very well claim their playoff spot before the year’s end.

SHR +/-:

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for the redeeming game; +3
Mike Modano: two for the assist, two for the shootout goal, and one for outplaying people half his age; +5
Toby Petersen: three for the goal and one for an otherwise solid game; +4
James Neal: one for clocking an impressive 24:29 (second only to Ribeiro), one for leading in SOG, and one for checking someone so hard in the corner that he made the Ice Girls who were standing in the tunnel shriek; +3
Landon Wilson: one for leaving the bench to celebrate the win with his helmet on backwards; +1
Doug Janik: one concern point for being the only Star to deliver a hit in the first period and possibly getting hurt for it; +1
Marty Turco: three for being himself again through the entire game and one for the solid shootout; +4
Darryl Sydor: one for leading in blocked shots; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the shootout goal; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for a solid game and one for leading in takeaways; +2

Off Ice +/-:

Mike Modano: one for stating he’d not be discussing Avery after 11:15am and two for sticking to it; +3

October 31, 2008

Tonight’s NHL Results

by Kristine

For a summary of the wins and losses from Thursday’s games, including team points, click the link below.

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