Posts tagged ‘Detroit Red Wings’

October 18, 2010

Death by Penalty Kill

by Chelsea

What happened to the Dallas Stars’ penalty kill?

During the preseason, they had absolutely no problems killing off penalties. Then we hit the regular season and they start coughing up power play goals to the other team left and right. What happened?

In five games, they’ve already allowed 10 power play goals (on 25 attempts), with 8 of those goals coming in the three road games so far. Four of the goals happened Monday in Tampa Bay. Ouch. That’s a very, very leaky ship they’re trying to sail.

I spent some time after the game staring at numbers. What I found out is that two of the Stars’ leading penalty killers in preseason have not played a second of shorthanded time in the regular season.

One of them is Severin Blindenbacher, who played over 10 minutes in the three of the four games I focused on without seeing a single power play goal against. In two of those games, he was part of the leading defensive pair on the PK that night, with either Fistric or Grossman, which saw a combined 13 penalties against with 0 PPGA. He is now playing for the Texas Stars in the AHL.

The other is Aaron Gagnon, recently called up from the Texas Stars. He played mostly with Toby Petersen on the penalty kill during the preseason and faced over 12 minutes total in the four games. The Dallas Stars killed off 25 of 27 penalties in those games, and Gagnon was not on the ice for either of the two goals they allowed.

Of course, you’d want those two guys to have more NHL experience before you throw them out there shorthanded. That said, it would be nice to see the Stars give Gagnon a shift or two with Petersen and see if they can recreate some of the success they had in preseason against real NHL rosters.

Another player that had some success killing penalties in preseason was Brian Sutherby. He had limited ice time but was not out for a single power play goal against. However, he has only been given 4:36 SH TOI in the regular season despite having only been on the ice for one PPGA, which came during the Detroit game. While that was partially his fault, you can’t overlook the fact that he had almost 2 minutes on the PK Monday and was one of two players who logged over a minute of SH time and did not get scored on. The other player was Steve Ott.

Am I saying Sutherby should be playing big minutes killing penalties? Not at all. Could he take a few shifts from a player like Brenden Morrow who is an adequate penalty killer but may have better ways to spend that ice time? Sure.

This brings me to my main point, which is that it is not really the forwards I have a problem with as far as personnel goes. It is more important to find the right combination of guys like Sutherby, Burish, and Wandell, who have so far been fairly interchangeable when it comes to successfully killing penalties, than it is to figure out who is better. For the defensemen, however, there is a big glaring issue that I see.

Trevor Daley has managed to be on the ice for HALF of the power play goals against (and is leading the team in that regard). To put that into perspective, he allows a goal for approximately every 3:30 he plays shorthanded, or once per game. He is horribly ineffective, and yet is second only to Karlis Skrastins for SH TOI.

There is no reason that I can see not to give some of his penalty killing time to Mark Fistric or Matt Niskanen. At least they don’t look completely startled every single time the puck comes at them. How many times have we already seen Daley do something completely boneheaded that cost the Stars on the scoreboard? He has no awareness of himself in relation to Lehtonen, as evidenced by all the screening, skating into, and deflecting pucks past that he’s already displayed this season.

Moving away from the “who” to the “what” problem, that seems pretty simple. For some reason, the Stars have been completely unable to get the puck ALL the way out of their zone on the penalty kill. One of them will pick it up down low and try to clear it, only to have it caught by the other team and tossed right back in. It doesn’t seem to matter much how they try to get it out. Down the middle? Bad giveaway. Along the boards? Caught at the point, if not before. Carry it out? Swarmed and had it stolen.

Someone needs to sit down and come up with a gameplan for getting the puck out of the zone on the first try. Maybe go over video of the Capitals, who have successfully killed off 21 of 21 penalties. Or maybe just pay very close attention Thursday when they take on the Panthers, who have only taken 8 penalties and have killed off all of them.

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October 12, 2010

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Hey everyone, welcome back to the weekly Power Ranking Round Up. This is a feature I will be posting once a week, after all the power rankings are released at ESPN, THN, and TSN. Last season this was on Monday or Tuesday so unless the rankings are published on a different day this season, I’m going to stick with Tuesday for my posts. For now, only ESPN has updated their rankings for the start of the season. Normally I would wait to make this post until next week, but their opinion and rank of the Stars is something I want to talk about. So without further ado, let’s kick this off for 2010-11.

Actual rank: 1st in Pacific, 3rd in the West, 7th in the league.
Record: 2-0-0. L10: 2-0-0.

ESPN by Scott Burnside
Stars: 3 this week; 20 last week. “Who knows how long the Stars can stay at this lofty perch, but kudos to coach Marc Crawford for helping his team earn two straight road wins in New Jersey and Long Island out of the gate. Who knows? It may help spur the sale of the team, if nothing else.”
Of Note: Pittsburgh at 27 this week; 7 last week. “A disappointing start at the Consol Energy Center for Pittsburgh after the Penguins dropped back-to-back one-goal games. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has shined at times but looked weak on Montreal’s winning goal Saturday night. Surprising lack of finish for the Pens early on.”
My thoughts: That is not a typo. Burnside really did rank us third in the league this week, only under the Wings (1) and Hurricanes (2).  Just let that sink in for a second. I took a few minutes to scan through all my old PRRU posts and the highest anyone has ranked us since I started in February of 2008 was 6th, and that only happened twice at the end of October 2009. We’ve been ranked in the teens or twenties every other time. I guess being one of five teams to start the season with a 2-0-0 record earns us a little bit of respect. In case you were wondering, the other four are Detroit, Carolina, Toronto, and Edmonton. So a few surprises there. There are also a big surprise on the (shorter) list of teams that started out 0-2-0: Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and Ottawa. I mostly find this notable because I can’t stand the Penguins, and I’m enjoying our spot at the top even more because they get to experience life at the bottom for now. However, personal bias aside, it’s a perfect example of one reason I love hockey: every season is truly a new season. Things can change so much between June and October. Who would have ever predicted we would have 2 wins in a back-to-back road trip to start the season? And who would have predicted the Penguins would drop their first game, not only of the season but also in their new stadium, and to a division rival at that? Probably very few people. But that’s how it’s played out, and it’s a lesson that this season is a fresh start and a chance to get back into the winning tradition we’ve been spoiled to have around here.

THN by Adam Proteau
Stars: 4 this week; n/a last week. “Two road wins to start season is great news, but they’ll need to beat good teams before they’re taken seriously
Of Note: Detroit at 1 this week; n/a last week. “Ageless wonder Nick Lidstrom leads all Wings skaters in average time on ice (24:57)
My thoughts: Well. Detroit is coming up. If we beat them – which will mean three wins in a row for the first time since 08-09 – will we be taken seriously? Or do we have to beat the Penguins, Hawks, Caps, Sharks, etc as well? Something tells me it’s going to take a huge start this season for people to consider the Stars as contenders for the playoffs. After the last few seasons, we have to prove that our 2-0-0 start is not just a fluke – and it’s not just the media that’s skeptical. The fans are, too. I know I’m nervous about Thursday. Win three in a row? With the third being against Detroit? Eek.  Speaking of the dreaded Wings, they have the top spot according to Adam. They have a 2-0-1 record coming into Thursday’s game and have looked pretty on-point so far. Both of their goalies have had pretty good starts – Howard has a .932 sv% in two games and Osgood had a .929 sv% in his one game – and their big names are putting up points early. ll Basically, it’s going to be a good game Thursday night. We’ll be there, applauding Mo’s return and waiting on the edge of our seats for the Stars to give people a reason to take them seriously.

So there we have it. One ranking, one top three spot, one fresh start. If that isn’t a reason for optimism, please find me something that is. That’s it for this week, but if The Hockey News or TSN update their power rankings in the next few days, I’ll update the post to include them. Otherwise, I’ll be back next week. Go Stars!

Update: THN’s rankings are in. I’ve updated the post with them.

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.

October 14, 2009

Power Ranking Round-Up

by Chelsea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

March 17, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time to check out the weekly power rankings. This week, I’ll be taking a look at the playoff race in the West.

Actual rank: 18th in league; 8th in West; 2nd in Pacific.
Record: 33-28-8. L10: 4-5-1. Points: 74.

Andrew’s by Mark Stepneski
Stars: 16 this week; 18 last week. “The Stars’ top line of Steve Ott, Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson are carrying the offensive load right now. Key road trip to Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose this week.”
Of Note: Detroit Red Wings at 2 this week; 3 last week. “The Red Wings are on a 3-0-1 run and have hit the 100-point mark for the ninth straight season.”
My thoughts: While the Stars have been busy fighting for that 8th seed, the Wings have been busy becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. As the standings sit as I write this, that makes them our first-round match-up. I actually feel pretty good about that. The Stars have played very well against the Wings this season, 6-1 loss at the Joe aside. Plus, Turco finally won at the Joe earlier this year, which hopefully would boost his confidence should we find ourselves facing them to kick off the post-season.

ESPN by Joy Russo
Stars: 21 this week; 21 last week. The Stars are 7-for-64 on the power play since playing their first game without Brad Richards (broken wrist) on Feb. 19.
Of Note: San Jose Sharks at 4 this week; 5 last week. “Evgeni Nabokov returns and the Sharks win two straight games.”
My thoughts: The Sharks win two straight – and become the second team to clinch a playoff spot. If the Stars keep hovering between 7th and 8th, and the Sharks and Wings keep battling it out for 1st and 2nd, chances are good that we’ll face the Sharks in the first round. This is another match-up I like. Sharks fans are already worried about their team choking in the post-season, the Stars have played hard and well against the Sharks this season (even if the scores didn’t always reflect that), and we should get a bit of a confidence boost from knowing that we”re the ones who booted the Sharks out of the playoffs last season. ESPN makes a good point about our special teams, but with Richards already doing full practices, the outlook for our PP isn’t as bleak as it seems. Richards back on the point will help that dismal 7-for-64 record a lot.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 18 this week; 22  last week. “Coach Dave Tippett may have found something putting Brendan Morrison on the right side with center Mike Modano.”
Of Note: Chicago Blackhawks at 15 this week;  10 last week. “Starting to feel like a first round playoff win will be tough, especially if they line up against Vancouver.”
My thoughts: If there’s one spot I really hope we don’t end up in, it’s the 5th seed lining up against the 4th place Hawks. I think it goes without saying that meeting them in the post-season would likely be a disaster. To be entirely honest, I hope THN is right and that Vancouver knocks them out for us so we don’t have to deal with them at all in the playoffs. THN also touches on Tippett’s movement of Morrison to Mo’s wing, something Heika talks about today on his blog. With Lehtinen on the other side, where does that leave James Neal? Him and Mo have both played their best hockey this season when on a line together, but they’ve also both found chemistry with other lines. I think our post-season success will be based largely on whatever line chemistry Tippett manages to create. Obviously Ott-Ribs-Louibot is lethal, but I’ve also liked Neal-Sutherby-Bunny and yes, Lehts-Mo-Morrison (which I’m counting based purely on the fact that even though he hasn’t actually played there yet, Lehts will improve Mo and Morrison’s chemistry because that’s what he does).

TSN
Stars: 23 this week;  22 last week. A good sign for the Stars is that LW Loui Eriksson, who was expected to see his production slip since Brad Richards’ injury, has shown he can get it done anyway, scoring 11 points in the last eight games. Key Injuries: C Brad Richards (wrist), RW Jere Lehtinen (upper body).
Of Note: Nashville Predators at 19 this week; 14 last week. “Losing three of four, to go with the No. 1 centre being sidelined, knocks the Preds down, but they are still in that playoff mix, tied for the last spot in the West. Key Injuries: C Jason Arnott (upper body).
My thoughts: TSN continues to hate the Stars, moving usdown a spot even as they compliment our leading goal-scorer. That aside, valid point. Loui is a point powerhouse for us and his consistent production is one of the key reasons we’re still in the mix despite our six-game slide. The Preds are in a similiar situation as they’ve gone 2-2-1 in their L5. They’re currently trying to swing back up with two wins in their last two games, and it’s put them at one point ahead of the Stars in the 7th seed. Add the Oilers’ 73 points to the mix, and you’ve got a real battle for the last two seeds.

What do you think? Who would you most and least want to face in the first round, and why?

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 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!

January 17, 2009

Game Review – 1/15/09 (DAL vs BUF)

by Chelsea

The Good:

Offensive defense! The Dallas defense continued their scoring ways from the Red Wings game in the contest against the Buffalo Sabres. Trevor Daley and Matt Niskanen both scored again, while Nicklas Grossman and Marty Turco got assists. Yup, even Marty got on the board.

Power play power! The Stars got four power plays and scored on the first two. In fact, the Sabres looked very surprised at the fury Dallas unleashed during the first man-advantage. 

Building a three-goal lead! Dallas had so much energy, drive, focus, firepower – whatever you want to call it – that Buffalo just couldn’t hold them back. They scored three times in the first 23 minutes of play. 

Sutherby! After being unable to contribute in points since coming to the Stars, Sutherby has tried on many occasions to make himself heard with his fists. He finally succeeded in picking a fight after someone tried to behead Mark Parrish, and while he didn’t get many punches in, showed some pretty impressive balance to get the takedown. 

The Bad: 

Sacrificial defense? While the defensive core (+ the goalie) were busy collecting points, I guess they forgot to actually defend? The Stars let Buffalo get 35 shots on goal, and four of those went in.

Penalty killing? It’s nice to get on a power play and tear up the opposition, and I’m sure that’s why the Stars were being very generous in taking penalties. After having none in the entire first period, they made up ground by taking five in the remaining regulation time. 

Losing a three-goal lead? You can’t just give up when you’re up by three, and Dallas learned that one the hard way. The Sabres staged a comeback, scoring four times to erase three-goal and and then two-goal leads. Then they won in the shootout.

Speaking of that shootout, oh… well, yikes. Parrish, really? He’s never scored in a shootout, ever. Why not give Ott the go? And when will Ribeiro learn that his fancy stuff doesn’t work for patient goaltenders? 

The Ugly: 

Stephane Robidas took a hit in OT that left him wincing on the bench and missing practice this morning. He says he’s fine, but ‘fine’ shows up to work in the morning. We’ll see.

Mike Modano took a nasty hit to the back… from Toby Petersen. Yup. Petersen seemingly smashed his shoulder/elbow into Modano’s back, who made his way to the bench where he grimaced and winced for about five minutes. We really hope Petersen apologized, but he seriously just looked clueless the entire time. It was the last of a couple of big hits on him, and the fact that he didn’t go in a five-round shootout says maybe he wasn’t feeling so hot.

Darryl Sydor had an awful night. He got his face smeared into the glass a couple times, he lost the puck in his skates and stood there looking confused (right in front of Turco, no less), and then he nearly shot the puck into his own net at least once. Uck.

Sabres fans in Dallas have serious grunge issues. Between getting drunk and yelling at annoyed Stars fans, they also got into the “Stanley Cup Brett Hull no goal!” grudge again. I mean, really, it was ten years ago. You probably care more than the players do. Time to move on.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: one concern point for ackdontbehurtplease; +1
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal; +3
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3 
Mike Modano: two for the assist and one concern point; +3
Toby Petersen: minus-two for the penalty that the Sabres scored on, minus-two for hitting Mo, and minus-one for not looking concerned afterward; -5
Brian Sutherby: one for standing up for Parrish, one for the fight, and one for not losing it; +3
Loui Eriksson: one for being a defensive force despite not showing up on the scoreboard; +1
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist and one for being a puck-thief; +3
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for style, and one for leading in hits; +7
Marty Turco: two for the assist, one for being solid in the beginning of the game and shootout, minus-two for becoming a sieve in both scenarios once one goal got in, and one for keeping the Stars in the game through the Sabres’ last push in regulation; +2
Joel Lundqvist: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist and minus-one for leading in giveaways; +1

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