Posts tagged ‘Dave Tippett’

November 11, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

The big word in the power rankings this week is “goals.” Let’s see why…

Actual rank: 12th in league; 8th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 7-4-6. L10: 4-3-3.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 13 this week; 13 last week. “Marc Crawford’s group is producing goals: 3.18 per game, eighth in the NHL.
Of Note: Montreal at 19 this week; 18 last week. “Win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, lose one. …
My thoughts: The Stars can score… Or can they? They started off the season scoring at least four goals in almost every game, but have scored only two goals in each of their last four games. They’re not quite at the “win one, lose one, win one, lose one” pace the Habs are at (and the Stars were at most of last season), but they will be if they don’t rediscover their offensive prowess. With their next three games on the road – two of which are against Pacific teams – they need to really get their legs moving and hope that more pucks start finding the back of the net.

TSN
Stars:
14 this week; 11 last week. “Goals are suddenly at a premium in Big D, as they’ve managed eight in the last four games, after scoring 21 in the previous five. Key Injuries: LW James Neal (groin).
Of Note: San Jose at 1 this week; 1 last week. “Eight straight games without a regulation loss, the Sharks get to keep top spot for another week and the forecast gets even better now that Joe Pavelski has returned to anchor the second line. Key Injuries: D Rob Blake (shoulder), RW Devin Setoguchi (leg).
My thoughts: See? Even TSN has noticed that our goal scoring has dropped considerably lately. The Sharks are not afraid to get the puck on net, averaging 31.5 SOG/game. However, they’re also allowing 29.3 SOG/game. Maybe the biggest key for this game will be just to get the puck to the net and see what happens. The Stars do love breaking win streaks (remember the first Calgary game this season?) almost as much as they love being the underdogs.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 19 this time; 11 last time. “Brad Richards has recorded a point in every game he’s played except two this season.
Of Note: Detroit at 15 this time; 21 last time. “Speaking of banged up teams, Red Wings lose another body as Jason Williams sustains broken leg.
My thoughts: I love when we lose eight places but the comment is something positive. On the opposite side, the Wings jumped up six places but the comment is about an injury. What gives, THN? I think what they mean is “Brad Richards is recording points, but the Stars are not.” I honestly don’t have much to say about dropping so far down except that it doesn’t surprise me. One handful of less-than-stellar games and plenty of people go back to discrediting the Stars. I think they’d be sitting on top the division and people would still be waiting for them to fall.

I guess overall I’m a little frustrated. The Stars are having trouble finiding consistency, which makes it easy to forget that they’re still at a .588 point percentage for the season. Regardless, I get discouraged when I see them losing to teams they should be able to easily beat (ahem, Minnesota), and it seems like the power rankers feel the same way. They moved down 3 at TSN, 8 at THN, and somehow stayed the same at ESPN. They’re also ranked highest at ESPN (13th), and lowest at THN (19th). They play the Sharks and Coyotes before the next rankings come out, which could mean a big jump (if they beat at least one of them) or a big fall (if they lose to both). My bold prediction: They manage a win against the Sharks, but turn around and trip over Tippett’s Yotes.

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October 6, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Hockey games that mean something are finally back, and that means so are power rankings that mean basically nothing. I’ll be updating every Tuesday with a look at what the experts think of the Stars, as well as other teams around the league. Let’s see where we rank as the season kicks off…

Actual rank: 19th in league; 9th in West; 3rd in Pacific.
Record: 0-0-1. L10: 0-0-1.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 25 this week; 26 last week. “The blue line is a concern, but there’s not a lot of money to spend.
Of Note: St Louis at 4 this week; 12 last week. “Can’t wait for that season opener at the Scottrade Center. Just hope the roof doesn’t collapse from all the noise. A great market finally gets a team worth cheering for. Talk about a statement with two season-opening wins in Stockholm over the mighty Red Wings.
My thoughts: If even ESPN is worried about it, you know there’s some cause for concern. A Cup contender needs to have at least one of two things: a strong blueline, or an elite goalie. At this point, we definitely don’t have one and we’re twiddling our thumbs while we wait to see if we have the other. Our young guns on the line are constantly improving, but mistakes happen. When they do, Turco needs to be there as our final defense – and he wasn’t last season. As for the Blues, they have the honor of being the biggest jump this week – from 12th to 4th. They’ve got some very talented offensive players rising through their ranks in TJ Oshie and Patrik Berglund, and they added former Star Darryl Sydor to their blueline. Syd joins fellow former Stars BJ Crombeen and Brad Winchester, who give the Blues some grit. They’re definitely a team to be aware of this season. Finally, it’s interesting to note that this is week 2 of ESPN’s power rankings for this season, and they started the Stars at 26th. Wonder where we’ll be ranked this time next month?

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 18 this week; n/a last week. “Wonder what James Neal’s high-end output is; 35 goals, maybe?
Of Note: L.A. Kings at 27 this week; n/a last week. “Super sophomore Drew Doughty scores two points, but is a minus-2 in opening 6-3 loss to Coyotes.”
My thoughts: It’s Neal vs Doughty in the Pacific Division Battle Of The Sophomores, and James Neal is winning. His two goals and even plus/minus bests Doughty’s goal, assist, and -2 plus/minus. On Saturday, Neal reminded us why we loved him as a rookie: he missed an easy open net, banged a few bodies into the boards, and nailed an impossible shot that went straight to the back of the net. Twice. We saw the same thing last season. He gets frustrated and uses it as motivation. With that kind of attitude, 35 goals does seem like a reasonable thing to aim for (pun barely intended). As for Doughty and the Kings, here’s hoping they’re not quite the Cup contender the buzz made them out to be during pre-season.

Yahoo by Ross McKeon
Stars: 17 this week; n/a  last week. “Firing Dave Tippett was a big mistake. Dallas’ loss is Phoenix’s gain. And wouldn’t the Stars be shocked to have the Coyotes finish ahead of them? Just might happen. Either way, Dallas isn’t going to make the top eight in the West for the second straight year. And it’ll be Marty Turco’s last season in Big D.
Of Note: Phoenix at 20 this week; n/a last week. “Watch out here. Everyone thinks the disaster off the ice will make the Coyotes an easy mark. Not so. Dave Tippett is a solid coach who knows the Pacific Division very well. Phoenix is going to surprise even if they don’t finish in the top eight.
My thoughts: Yahoo is new to my round-ups this season. I both agree and disagree with them on their assessment of the Stars. I do think this may well be Turco’s last year – unless he is a maker of miracles and plays Vezina-level hockey all season – but I’m optimistic enough to believe we’ll finish in the top eight. And the reason I believe that is because I think firing Tippett was exactly the right move. It’s hard to judge with just one regular season game under our belts, but so far the Stars seem motivated and cohesive under Crawford. They’re working harder than they have in years, and I think it’ll pay off. As for Phoenix, maybe Tippett is their gain, but Tippett needs to take a more open approach to developing his youth than he ever did in Dallas. Phoenix is a young team, and Tipp prefers to coach older, more experienced players. It remains to be seen if that will be a problem there like it was here. Either way, Phoenix vs Dallas might become a bigger rivalry now than it has been in the past.

So let’s see here. Yahoo has us highest, at 17th. THN has us at 18th, and ESPN has us at a lowly 25th. Clearly, the expectations going into this season are low, at least from the media. I can’t say I’m too torn up about this; the Stars love being the underdogs, and this gives them a chance to blow some socks off. And if they come out of the gate flailing instead of swinging, nobody will be disappointed. Really, it’s a win-win (but fingers crossed for swinging).

At time of publication, Andrew’s and TSN had yet to update their power rankings. I’ll update this post with them as they come out.

June 11, 2009

Why Crawford Is Not Sean Avery

by Chelsea

Stars fans, remember that feeling you got last summer? First the news leaked… Sean Avery, coming to Dallas? Then, it became official. There was hesitation. It just looked like a bad idea. It felt like a bad idea. Then the press conference. Is he really wearing that? Is this what we’re getting into? You tried to have faith in your GMs, to reserve judgement.

The firing of Tippett and immediate hiring of Crawford does feel a little bit like that. It’s hard to tell why, of all the available coaches, Nieuwendyk would pick him. There’s concern that this is just change for change’s sake.

My main concern, though, was this:

Players like to play in Dallas. When Morrison and Sutherby came over from Anaheim, they both commented on how nice it was to be able to play their game. You can see it on the ice, too, that players are given the freedom to play their own style within the system. Ott is the agitator, Morrow is the heart, Ribeiro is the Valedictorian of Awesome School. Richards is the surgeon, Lehtinen is the glue, Turco is the monster that won’t stay in his cave.

Tippett let the team play with passion, with emotion.

An hour ago, reading everything about how this is a terrible move and an absolute downgrade, it seemed the Stars were doomed to slaving away unhappily, doomed for permanent mediocrity now.

Maybe, but probably not.

For one thing, the Stars still have Brenden Morrow, whose personal passion for the game can override just about anything.

For another, the team has an incredible amount of pride. Too much to lay down and let bad coaching (should that be the case) turn them from perennial contenders to basement-dwellers.

Lastly, there is this quote from Crawford out of today’s press conference,

I believe that a team’s identity comes comes from the players and not from the coach. Players win championships and coaches set structure and try to motivate every now and then … I have some notions about the Stars, but the more I get to know them the more I can understand the strengths of the individual players and go about building upon that and make the adjustments needed.

Isn’t that something Tippett was lacking? He didn’t work the system to fit the talents of his players, he just let his players do their own thing within his system. Fun to watch? Usually. Effective? Well, no, actually. Not at all.

I look forward to seeing Tipp set up behind another team’s bench. That said, Dallas has a team with a lot to prove, led by a ridiculously motivated captain. Now they have a coaching staff and GM that want to show the hockey world they were worth taking a chance on.

Expect the Stars to come out blazing in 2009-2010.

June 10, 2009

Nieuwendyk and the Big Picture

by Chelsea

During his press conference, Nieuwendyk stated that he would prefer to draft his team into contention rather than try and hit it big with free agency. He made a point of saying that the Stars are Morrow’s team, and that he would like to see them all play with his kind of passion. He’s said he likes the way Detroit plays a puck-possession game with hard-working forwards and effective but simple defense. He wants his team to play hard but also with intelligence.

All things considered, Nieuwendyk came into this with a good idea of what he wanted, and how he was going to get there. He doesn’t seem to intend to just tinker with this slightly identity-confused team until it looks like a contender. This isn’t about finding pieces to fit in the puzzle anymore. This is about replacing the puzzle entirely.

With the backstops to the Stars’ stellar defense on the way out (Zubov, Lehtinen, and possibly five-star goaltending) and new offense rising to the top (Eriksson, Ribeiro, Richards, Morrow, and possibly Neal/Brunnstrom), it seems Nieuwendyk might be recognizing that it’s time to change up how the team plays. Last year, head coach Dave Tippett failed to utilize their offensive strengths for most of the season, putting pressure on the defense and goaltenders to step up their game and carry the injury-riddled team.

Now Dave Tippett has been fired.

Supporters of Tippett can point to many reasons to keep him around. There’s the classic “but the injuries!” cry, the “winningest coach!” argument, and the “but the 07-08 season ended so strongly!”

However, you might recall that before there were injuries, the team struggled right out of training camp. They had a losing preseason record, hit the regular season flopping around pitifully instead of riding their momentum from the playoff run, and the top lines weren’t clicking. Avery became the Avery Issue, leading people to wonder if Tippett was too much of a players-coach to keep him in line. Then there was the mismanagement of the goalie situation, and some questionable instances towards the end of the season when he played Neal and benched Brunnstrom (one time that comes to mind is this happening immediately after a game in which Brunnstrom had played well and Neal had a sloppy turnover leading directly to a goal against).

The pros and cons of Dave Tippett from the 08-09 season seem to cancel each other out. He wasn’t great, he had his “wtf” moments, but he also nearly got them into the playoffs despite all the injuries and drama.

That’s why I think this has more to do with Nieuwendyk and Hicks looking at the big picture, looking to a new direction, and realizing Tippett does not belong. He has showed an inability to adapt as the team changes, and there seem to be big changes ahead for Dallas.

June 10, 2009

Tippett Fired, Replaced By Crawford.

by Chelsea

It’s official. Dave Tippett is out, Marc Crawford is in. Lamb is also out as assistant coach, but we don’t know yet about Rick Wilson and Stu Barnes.

Crawford has coached for the Nordiques, Canucks, and LA Kings, with little postseason success (has not seen the playoffs since before the lockout) despite some very strong regular seasons. He also coached the 1998 Canadian Olympic team, leading them to a disappointing fourth-place finish.

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

February 17, 2009

Game Review – 2/16/09 (DAL at CBJ)

by Chelsea

Thank Yous to/from Turco and Eriksson:

Turco can thank his teammates for pumping up his numbers (41 saves on 43 shots is much more impressive than 21 on 23) and in turn, they can apologize profusely and then thank him for winning them the two points.

They can also thank Eriksson, who had another goal+assist night and basically saved the game by scoring at the tail-end of a Columbus power play to tie the game and force overtime. 

The Argument for Ribeiro As Alternate Captain: 

First, let’s reflect over all that’s happened to the lettered members of the Stars squad:

Original: Morrow (C), Modano (A), Zubov (A)
Zubov starts his season rehabbing from surgery, returns, and then is out again for the season.
Morrow plays a handful of games before suffering a season-ending injury.

The New Three: Modano (A), Robidas (A), Richards (A)
Robidas takes a puck to the face that breaks his jaw. He was only out about a week, during which Sydor wore the extra ‘A’.
Richards takes an awkward hit against the board and breaks his wrist. Out for 6-8 weeks.

Not the best of luck for team leaders, but for the sake of making a point, going to be moving past that to who will be getting the ‘A’ that Richards had.

Common sense says that Sydor will get it, because he’s a veteran that was brought in for his leadership qualities and wore it while Robidas was out. 

Nostalgia would like to see Jere Lehtinen get it, as a reward for all the hard work and dedication he’s put into the franchise. With a mammoth work ethic, very few people are better equipped to lead by example than Lehtinen.

However, curiosity wants to see Mike Ribeiro get it. Though, to borrow from Razor, he has his moments of cheekiness, he’s no doubt matured considerably since the move from Montreal. After flourishing as the top line center last year between captain Brenden Morrow and veteran Jere Lehtinen, he seemed to take the responsibility to heart. This year, he and his line lead the team to a 5-game win streak. Would he accept the ‘A’ with pride and make a point to be the team’s numero uno? I’d love to find out. The Stars have a ridiculous winning % when Ribeiro is playing with tenacity and to his full potential.

Time to Step Up:

With Morrow, Zubov, and now Richards out, it’s time to see who is really going to lead this team and who was just riding the success of others.  People to keep an eye on:

Mike Ribeiro – see above.

James Neal – People are already pegging him as the next big cog in the Stars’ leadership machine. He’s said he wants to be a guy that gets big goals… but can he be the guy who’ll go through walls and do the dirty work too?

Fabian Brunnstrom – Most of his season has seen him working to adjust to the new North American game, but he’s also been a player who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of giving up. We called him Tiebreaker Bunny before he was hurt for a reason. Can he help the Stars break the playoff race tie?
 
Loui Eriksson – He’s already started to prove himself as a goal scorer and a defensive stability, and the kind of player his teammates can always count on to give it his all. Will he be able to score those timely goals on a regular basis?

Mike Modano – He’s been captain, he’s been the face of the franchise, he’s been the record-breaker in all franchise scoring categories. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues to just relax and enjoy his veteran years, or if he gets motivated to really lead the team.

Toby Petersen – He had a streak of good games when the Stars were first struggling with injuries, but when other players started stepping up or getting healthy, he stopped being an impact player. I predict another short but good run from him.

The Three Baby D – Niskanen, Grossman, and Fistric, reunited at last. They locked it down far beyond their years to impress in the playoffs. Will we get a repeat example of what young talent and determination can do to stop the opposing forwards?

Marty Turco – We’ve seen it in the past, and we saw it last night. When Marty Turco wants to stop the puck, the puck will be stopped. However, earlier in the season, when he mentioned people needing to step up, his words fell flat because his performance was anything but. Has he finally stepped up and found the consistency that it takes to drag this team to the playoffs all by himself, if need be?

Brad Richards – Tippett’s said that Richards does best when he’s in a leadership position. How he acts while injured (Morrow’s intensity in wanting to return for the playoffs has motivated the team to reach the postseason; Richards has a similar timetable for return) and when he comes back could be very telling on whether or not he has what it takes to be a leader on this team.

SHR +/-:

Trevor Daley: two for the assist but minus-two for an otherwise especially sloppy game; +0
Krys Barch: minus-one for the penalties; -1
James Neal: two for the shootout goal; +2
Brian Sutherby: two for the assist but minus-one for the penalties; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Mark Fistric: one for a good game; +1
Marty Turco: two for the good game, one for dragging the team into OT, and one for winning it in the shootout; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist but minus-one for looking half-dead all night; +1
Brad Richards: three for the goal, one sympathy point, and one for leading in SOG despite playing less than ten minutes; +5 

February 12, 2009

Game Review 2/11/09 – (DAL vs PHX)

by Chelsea

When All Else Fails, Juggle Lines:

 
“Dude. What’re you doing?”
“I’m taking a faceoff.”
“Seriously?”
“Coach told me I’m centering this line.”
“You’re joking. Tipp?”
“You’ll be on his left wing, and I’m trying Turco out on his right.”
Turco “But I haven’t played anything other than goalie in over twenty years.”
“Yeah, but over 50% of players surveyed thought you’d be the goaltender best suited to play forward-“
Turco “Alright, alright, I get it. Let me take this goalie gear off?”
Tippett “No time! Just trade sticks with Petersen there so he can get in net.”
Petersen  
“So in Swedish it’s..?”
Idiotiskt.
“Right… idiotiskt. This is idiotiskt.”
“Ja.”

 

SHR +/-:

Matt Niskanen: one for trying to clean up Sydor’s mess; +1
Mike Modano: minus-one for having 4 GV, minus-two for being completely unable to finish on some prime scoring chances, but one for trying anyway; -2
Krys Barch: one for the fight, two for dominating it, and one for good timing in picking it; +4
Brian Sutherby: one for the.. scuffle, minus-one for losing it, and minus-one for the dumb penalty; -1
Steve Ott: one for delivering 6 hits; +1
Marty Turco: two for solid effort; +2
Joel Lundqvist: one for delivering 6 hits; +1
Darryl Sydor: minus-one for prodding delicately at the Coyote with the puck instead of trying to take the man or said puck, and minus-two for the goal that was scored immediately after; -3
Mike Ribeiro: one for delivering 6 hits; +1
Brad Richards: one for leading in SOG with 8; +1
Fabian Brunnstrom: one yay! point for not being too hurt to play; +1

February 6, 2009

Stephan Sent Down

by Kristine

In the world of news that surprises nobody, the Stars assigned backup goalie Tobias Stephan to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) today, as expected. Also as predicted, goalie Brent Krahn has been recalled from the Chicago Wolves, but is not expected to be in net tonight against the Rangers.

To be honest, here at SHR we wonder how going from a goalie who is widely thought to be unproven even with seven NHL games under his belt to another goalie who is unproven with no NHL games in his history is going to help our netminder situation. We have a lot of questions about it. Will Tippett be more willing to play Krahn? If so, what does he see in Krahn that he didn’t see in Stephan? Why was Stephan really never given a chance? Will the Brass be keeping an eye on Stephan’s play in the AHL, with the intention of giving him another chance in the NHL later this season or next? Is this the precursor to a trade for some depth in net? As usual with the Stars Brass this season, this decision doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

On the one hand, I’d rather Stephan get some playing time than sit on the bench game after game. On the other, I’m annoyed that he wasn’t given that opportunity with the Stars. Why switch him out for yet another backup goalie who might not ever see NHL ice? For one, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News points out that Krahn is a veteran minor league goalie but that he also has fought a knee injury throughout his career. So does his veteran status make him more trustworthy than Stephan, at least in Tippett’s eyes?

Just to be fair to both goalies, let’s look at their AHL records. During his time with the Iowa Stars, Stephan posted a .910 sv% and a 2.65 GAA, going 27-25-2. Krahn has had a quiet season, playing eight games in the AHL and recording a .910 sv% and a 2.28 GAA for a 4-3-0 record. In his 14 games with the Quad City Flames last season, he put up a .905 sv% and a 2.49 GAA to go 6-6-2. Now, I’m no goaltending expert, but those numbers seem pretty evenly matched to me. So what gives Krahn the edge over Stephan?

No matter what that edge is, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long to find out how Tippett feels about actually using this backup. Heika writes, “Marty Turco is going to be tested during this run of three games in four days – and even if he takes the full two days off next week, he has a run of four games in six days with two road trips mixed in after this little test.” If there’s ever a time to give Turco a rest and test out this new backup, it’s about to be here. As with many of the Stars Brass’s decisions this season, it will be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.

The official press release can be found here.

January 20, 2009

Game Review – 1/19/09 (DAL at TBL)

by Chelsea

We’re Calling You Out, Mr. Turco:

On one end of the ice, a young goaltender who has at least four bad giveaways, chucks the puck up the ice instead of passing it, and faced six PKs.

On the other end of the ice, a grizzled veteran goalie who had an alright night handling the puck, and only faced 2 PKs.

Bet you can’t guess which one was the one to have a dumb puck-get moment and surrender a goal, or to have his five-hole thoroughly ravaged. 

One team held the other to only 20 shots against and was disciplined in only taking two penalties.

The other team was subjected to 25 shots and took six penalties. 

Bet you can’t guess which goalie let in 3 goals (on 19 shots – there was one SOG/Goal on an empty net) and which only let in two.

Bet you can’t guess which goalie locked it down after five minutes into the second period and which one let in three goals in the last ten minutes of play.

Confused yet? Surely, Turco came out on top, besting his old backup goalie with his superior puckhandling and puckstopping abilites. Surely! 

Oh, boo. Taking nothing away from the Stars’ rancid special teams (6 PPs – 1 TBL goal and 1 DAL goal. 2 PKS – 1 TBL goal), but everybody already knows the facts about that. Stars suck on the road, Stars can’t score on the road, Stars PP on the road is the worst in the league. We got it, nobody’s denying anything.

But how about that starter goalie? We’ve blamed bad defense, lack of teamwork, lack of consistency, even lack of a strong back-up goaltender. Then when the Stars win, we generally praise Turco and ramble on about how it looks like he’s finally returned to form.

Sometimes, it seems like he has. Sometimes, he makes crazy saves. We call that “bad with flashes of great”, though, not “great with flashes of bad”. 

The fact is, his sv% right now is .916 in wins. Last year, that number was .939, and actually has never been as bad as it is currently. Compared to the top goaltenders right now, that’s a dismal number. Tim Thomas averages a .914 in losses. Steve Mason is .950 in wins and .904 in losses. Turco, in losses, is a questionable .879.

 

 

But the bad defense!

That bad defense you reference is certainly not on par with Detroit or San Jose, but it stands beside them for Shots Against/Game. Actually, the Stars have the third best SA/G in the entire league. I suppose you could argue that Dallas doesn’t let in many shots, but the majority are quality scoring chances – but that’s a pretty daring assumption. Another fun fact: the Stars have allowed less than 20 SA in 8 separate occasions, and 3 of those were in October. One of them was this game.

Turco has only had 16 games with a sv% over .900 this season. Only 14 with a GAA at 2.o0 or under. Looking into it further, you see that out of those 16 games, the team allowed between 25-30 shots against in 7 of them. That seems to be his magic number; few enough so that he doesn’t let in 6 goals, but plenty enough so that each goal doesn’t do too much damage to his sv%.

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, member of the 2nd best team in the league for GA/G, has a season sv% of .907. Games in which he reached the .900 mark range from 11 SA to 36. Does the “magic number” apply to all goalies? It doesn’t appear to.

Enough about stats, though. How about the fact that Turco and the team no longer seem to trust each other?

In each game, the team looks a little more desperate. They scramble into the crease to “help out” Turco at every chance, or they put themselves out of position in an attempt to block a shot Turco should be able to save (and end up screening him in the process). When they start losing, they fall apart, because they’re all trying to do everything and cohesiveness is lost.

Conversely, Turco can be seen scurrying behind his net at every opportunity. This includes (but is not excluded to) times when: there are at least 2 Stars within reach of the puck, a Star nearly has the puck, a Star is intending to circle around and claim the puck, and when there are none of the opposition but all of his team around to retrieve it.

Take, for instance, the Stamkos goal. Turco tries to lean around his net to poke the puck away from a Lightning player who is being pressured by a Star. He gets his stick tangled in their skates, loses it, looks to retrieve it, the puck gets centered and he scrambles to get into position, but far too late. 

How about how tired he looks?

He’s given up 9 goals in the third period, just in the last five games.

He’s given up 4 third period goals in the five games before that.

In the five games before that, he gave up 6 in the third.

That’s 19 third period goals in the 15 games since Stephan had his last start. And it appears to be getting worse. Tippett is trusting that the ASG break will give him a chance to rest, but it’s expecting a lot for him to go another 40 games after that without one. He’s only human. 

Assuming we reach the playoffs, I can almost guaranteed that Turco will be too worn out to power the team past the first round. Maybe that’s just the problem; the playoff run in the spring has worn him out, and he needs someone to share duties with. Osgood and Fleury, who met up in the Stanley Cup Finals, are both struggling to find their form as well.

Either way, Turco needs to acknowledge his limitations and do something about it. Even if that means asking to sit and let Stephan play. Risking a handful of games seems smarter than risking your star goaltender in the long run.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Lecavalier, Richards, Eminger
  • The game was the first meeting between the Lightning and the Stars since the blockbuster deadline trade last year that saw Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist to Dallas and Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, and Mike Smith to Tampa Bay.
  • Dallas gave up its first SH goal of the season, to Vincent Lecavalier, in the first period.
  • Loui Eriksson’s goal was his first in five games and second in the last eight.
  • Conclusion: We actually don’t blame Marty Turco entirely, but the Stars would be much better prepared to deal with their other issues if he could lead the charge by locking it down. Hopefully the players-only meeting following this loss produced some solutions.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one for leading in blocked shots and one for covering Lecavalier like the All-Star he is; +4
Matt Niskanen: minus-one for the untimely penalty; -1
Trevor Daley: one for being the only Star to end in the positive for +/-: +1
Mike Modano: two for the assist, one for winning 88% of his faceoffs, but minus-two for all the turnovers on PP; +1
James Neal: one for leading in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and one for persistence; +4
Jere Lehtinen: one for tying for the team lead in shots on goal; +1
Marty Turco: see first part of post; -1
Mark Parrish: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for tying for the team lead in shots on goal, but minus-two for being unable to win a PP faceoff; +4