Posts tagged ‘Edmonton Oilers’

October 7, 2009

Game Review – 10/06/09 (DAL @ EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars kicked off their first road trip of the season with a game in Edmonton, looking to claim their first victory after falling in the shootout to the Predators.

Games between the Stars and Oilers are always exciting, and this one did not disappoint. Fans were treated to a good old-fashioned battle of the goalies, with each netminder fighting to be the first to give their own fanbase a collective heart attack.

On one end was Nikolai Khabibulin, who consistently tried to thwart his own attempt at being the first Russian goaltender to reach 300 wins. On the other was Marty Turco, waving precariously between making last season look like a fluke and making Stars fans everywhere punch their TVs in frustration.

All of this was only amplified by two teams whose defense sometimes struggled to look coherent over the course of the game. Players for both sides repeatedly found themselves with plenty of free space in front of the net, giving them time to set up a shot or jam in rebounds. For the Stars, it was the defensemen who let their goalie down. For the Oilers, it was their forwards with some very nasty turnovers.

In the end, Khabibulin skated off with the win after his post stopped Neal in the shootout. As a result, Dallas fans are once again split over the play of Marty Turco. Did he get the Stars an extra point in each of the first two games, or did he cost them wins? Is he past his prime? Is he just finding his form? Do we panic?

This is why, instead of a typical game review, today’s is more of a goal breakdown.

The first goal of the game was on the Oilers’ first power play, scored by Mike Comrie:

This one had a lot to do with Robidas letting Comrie set up shop in front of Turco for half a century while he skated around watching Skrastins and Cogliano play. Unfortunately, Turco was watching the exact same thing and didn’t seem to notice in time that Cogliano was tossing the puck out in front. Skrastins failed to stop the pass, and it was in the net before Turco really even reacted.

Verdict: Someone on that PK needed to be paying attention to Comrie. That includes Turco. 5/10 on the Turco’s Fault? Meter.

The Stars then scored twice, the second time due largely to Turco springing James Neal on a SH breakaway.

However, that same PK that saw Neal scoring also saw the Oilers scoring. This time it was Sam Gagner.


That’s Gagner up in the corner, using Trevor Daley as a screen. The puck went right between Daley’s legs, then right through Turco’s. It was a rather impressive shot, and I bet Gagner is very good at miniature golf (right through the windmill for a hole-in-one!), but a slow-to-close five-hole is something Stars fans saw all too often last season.

Verdict: Daley is not exactly the largest screen, so a bigger goalie might have been able to see well enough to see the shot. However, it was still a very well-aimed goal on Gagner’s part. 5/10.

Towards the end of the period, the Stars regained their one goal lead only to promptly lose it. Again.

That is Dustin Penner. All alone. Nobody behind Turco to pass the puck to. That’s Woywitka and Ribeiro playing defense there. Ribeiro looks like he’s trying to cut off passing lanes and Woywitka is… cutting off more passing lanes. Penner, forced to retreat or shoot, shoots. For some unknown reason, Turco decides that’s a good time to drop and open up the entire half of the net.

Verdict: It seemed like Turco was expecting Woywitka to take the body so he was preparing to grab the puck. Still, he probably should have just held his ground instead of dropping so quickly. Maybe he gives up a rebound and everyone scrambles for the puck and maybe it still goes in anyway but maybe it doesn’t. 8/10.

For the third time in the game, the Stars recovered in time to take back their lead, and for the third time they lost it again.


The last goal of the game was pretty unfortunate, coming off a shot from Denis Grebeshkov that deflected off Nicklas Grossman’s skate and over Turco. There was a brief moment while everyone watched the puck rainbow into the net, and suddenly it was all tied up again.

Verdict: Turco saw the puck in time to swing back with his stick and try to bat it out of the air, but he missed. I’ve no doubt that spectacular in-the-zone Turco could have connected enough to keep it from going in, and it would have been amazing and stunning and glorious. However, it would be extremely unfair to actually blame him for that goal.  3/10.

Of course, both goalies held on through the end of the third and all of OT to force a shootout. The Hemsky GWG was just pretty lucky/unlucky, as it was sort of an accidental goal on both ends.

Conclusion: Three times, the Stars fought for a lead only to watch it go down the drain less than 7 minutes later. Turco coming up big on any one of the tying goals could have sealed the deal. Nobody should be upset about him not being Super Goalie in just the first two games, but with all this team adjustment from the new system… it’d be nice to see how they perform with a solid, positionally-sound goalie instead. Y’know, like Alex Auld.

Turco’s Fault? Meter:
It’s 52.5% Turco’s fault. You can try to hang this loss on Turco, but don’t expect it to stick very well.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Penner, Morrow, Gagner
  • Brenden Morrow looked like himself again, with two goals and an assist.
  • James Neal and Brad Richards led the team in SOG with 7 each.
  • Wandell and Brunnstrom moved up to the third line, replacing Modano (injured) and Petersen (fourth line). Brunnstrom looked like he’d made considerable strides defensively, finishing with an even +/- compared to his linemates’ combined -3. Meanwhile, Wandell led the team in SH TOI, but was not on the ice for either of the Edmonton PP goals.
  • The only player on the fourth line (Petersen-Sutherby-Barch) to accomplish anything was Barch, who had 3 hits, a fight, and a takeaway. Petersen and Sutherby combined for 1 SOG and 2 faceoff wins.
  • Jamie Benn got his first NHL point, assisting on Morrow’s first goal by turning the puck over to an Oiler who turned it over to Daley.
  • Steve Ott needs only 5 more PIM to pass Shane Churla for 3rd most by any Star. Anyone else want to see him get his minutes by taking on Iginla?
  • Conclusion: Don’t bother hitting the panic button. Chances are, it’s only a matter of time before Auld gets to start. If he does really well (meaning Turco might be more to blame for these losses after all), then yay! We’ve got a goalie in net who is doing really well! Besides, if you spend every game in fits about Turco, you’ll miss out on all the fun of freaking out over actually having impressive young talent to watch.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: three for the goal but minus-one for letting Comrie score uncontested; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist but minus one for screening his own goalie; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for each goal and two for the assist; +8
Krys Barch: two for taking on Souray and putting him in the box for five minutes but minus-one for losing the fight; +1
Jamie Benn: two for the assist and one because how he got that assist was rather amusing; +3
James Neal: three for the goal and one for style; +4
Tom Wandell: one for fitting in nicely as third line center; +1
Steve Ott: one for actually winning faceoffs, one for standing up for Grossman, but minus-one for being on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals against; +1
Marty Turco: two for the assist, one for the solid moments, but minus-one for the weak ones; +2
Karlis Skrastins: one for leading in blocked shots again; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for already looking less lost this season than he did all of last season; +1

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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?

February 24, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Power rankings were updated yesterday, and I’m interested to see how the hockey world feels about the Stars now that our depth up front has been depleted even further with the loss of Brad Richards. Let’s take a look…

Actual rank: 16th in league; 7th in West; 2nd in Pacific.
Record: 29-23-7. L10: 5-5-0.

Andrew’s by Mark Stepneski
Stars: 11 this week; 11 last week. “Stars suffer another big injury when Brad Richards goes out 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist. Stars are 13-3-1 in last 17 home games.”
Of Note: St. Louis at 23 this week; 23 last week. “The Blues continue to pick up points to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They are 9-3-5 since the middle of January.”
My thoughts: The truth is that Richards’ injury hurts us almost worse than Morrow’s knee injury. There’s so little time left in the season, and our depth at forward is already so depleted, that there’s virtually no adjustment period. We either keep playing well, or lose the playoff spot.  It’s been a rough start to Life Without Richards, with losses to the Hawks and Sharks, but facing the Blues on Thursday will give us another chance to stay in the race. In theory, beating them sounds easy, but the key is not looking at this as an easy two points.

ESPN by Jim Wilkie
Stars: 11 this week; 12 last week. “Rookie call-up Ray Sawada, 24, got a goal in his NHL debut Thursday as he tries to follow the paths of capable Stars youngsters James Neal and Loui Eriksson.”
Of Note: Chicago at 7 this week; 7 last week. “Chicago forward Patrick Kane has four goals and four assists in four games (all victories) against the Stars this season.”
My thoughts: First of all, Patrick Kane loves Mo, so it’s no surprise that he plays well against the Stars. It reminds me of Ribeiro playing well against Gretzky’s team. ESPN was the only one this week to focus on Sawada and the rest of the Stars youth. If there’s been a high point to this season, it’s been watching Neal, Eriksson, and Brunnstrom come in and be so awesome. We’ve also gotten to see great outings from call-ups Tom Wandell and, as ESPN points out, Raymond Sawada.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 13 this week; 11 last week. “With key players Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow out of the lineup, Mike Ribeiro has driven the Dallas attack with 18 points over his past 16 games.”
Of Note: Vancouver at 7 this week; 14 last week. “Just one regulation loss in their past 10 and Roberto Luongo still hasn’t completely found his game.”
My thoughts: While the Stars have been bouncing around between the 5th, 6th, and 7th seed, the Canucks have been flying upwards and are now firmly 5th in the West. THN hits the nail on the head when they say that Ribeiro has been leading our offensive charge lately. He’s one of a few players who have been stepping up more and more this season; a list that also includes Steve Ott, Nicklas Grossman, Stephane Robidas, and of course Loui Eriksson. It’s old news around here, but it’s still good to see.

TSN
Stars: 19 this week; 20 last week. “Given the Stars’ turnaround since shipping out Sean Avery, let’s turn to Texas native Matthew McConaughey and one of his many chick flicks, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days and a quote that can be directed towards Stars co-GM Brett Hull, ‘You see, the key to this game is being able to read people.’ Key Injuries: C Brad Richards (wrist).”
Of Note: Edmonton at 20 this week; 17 last week. “The world might not depend on the Oilers making the playoffs, but they seem to hit enough obstacles on the way to make an Armageddon comparison reasonable. Like the Roughnecks saving the planet from an asteroid, if the job is going to get done for this year’s Oilers, it’s going to be up to the young guys to come through in the clutch.  Key Injuries: D Denis Grebeshkov (ankle).”
My thoughts: In honor of the Oscars, TSN related each ranking to its own movie this week. It’s an interesting premise that doesn’t mean jack in the long run, but you’ve got to give TSN credit for trying to merge hockey and chick flicks. Honestly, as much as TSN is negatively biased against the Stars, I’m surprise we moved up instead of down with Richards out of the lineup. It’s probably because they focused on the Stars without Avery instead of the Stars without Richards. They’re right that Sean Avery was a fiasco here, but enough about him. He was a mistake, but he wasn’t the only reason the Stars started the season so badly. It’s time to bury the excuses once and for all and move on. The point TSN makes about the Oilers sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Injuries depleting a team, youth stepping up, fighting for a playoff spot… The Stars did it so don’t discount the Oilers. They’re sitting in the 9th seed right now, but they have 63 points in 59 games played. If they win their next game, they’ll bump the Wild out of the 8th spot. It’s a tight race and it’d be a mistake not to keep an eye on them.

To recap, we moved up one spot in two rankings, stayed dead even in one of them, and dropped two spots in the last. It’s better than I expected, given the bumpy road we’ve followed in the last week, but it’s disappointing to still not be considered a real threat.

What are your thoughts? Please don’t hesitate to comment. I know you people read this! Don’t be so shy! We love hearing your thoughts. 🙂

February 21, 2009

Game Review – 2/20/09 (DAL vs EDM)

by Chelsea

Game: 

We decided after this game that we wouldn’t mind meeting the Oilers in the postseason. We tend to beat them at home, Mike Modano always finds a way to stick it to them (winning 8/11 faceoffs this time), the games are generally hard-fought and entertaining, and Oilers fans aren’t giant homers that don’t know hockey. We’re 78-53-16 as a team against them all-time. That’s pretty good.

If ever there was a must-win game for both sides, it was this one. With the wins from Vancouver and Columbus, getting two points wouldn’t move anyone up any. However, losing the two points put a dangerous distance between them and the top half of the playoff-scrambling pack. Coming immediately after losing yet another key player to injury, it was good to see the Stars fully understanding the immense importance of showing up ready for battle.

There’s been a lot of talk about who will pick up the slack with Morrow, Zubov, and now Richards out, and what the future of this team is shaping up to be. Well, the future was in full display for this game.

The first goal was produced almost entirely from rookie Fabian Brunnstrom, who snatched the puck up as the Oilers fumbled it in their own zone and fought off a defenseman as he forced his way through to get it on net. Krys Barch crashed the crease just in time to finish up what Brunnstrom started. 

Raymond Sawada, playing in his first NHL game on his 24th birthday (wearing ex-Star and current Manitoba Moose Mike Keane’s #12) got the Stars’ second goal. 

Fabian Brunnstrom got the game winning goal when he was set up for a one-timer by Loui Eriksson. It was his 5th of the season in only 37 games- on pace for climbing into the top five most GWGs scored in a single season for the franchise.

While rookie James Neal was kept off the scoreboard, he made himself heard with some bone-crunching hits. Nicklas Grossman did as well, and also pinned the Edmonton captain in a scrum at the end of the game when he went after Steve Ott. In that same scrum, Mark Fistric squared off to stand up for his teammates and got enough penalty minutes to put him out of commission for the rest of the game.

Brent Krahn provided some decoration as a lovely fixture on the Stars bench as Marty Turco played his 28th consecutive start.

In all, Stars youth (Niskanen, Grossman, Fistric, Sawada, Brunnstrom, Eriksson, Neal)  provided the team with 2 goals, 2 assists, 15 hits, 8 shots on goal, 4 of the team’s 8 takeaways,  and only 1 giveaway. 

Other players who pitched in extra to make up for Richards’ absence were:

  • Trevor Daley – ended the game +1, had an assist on Sawada’s goal, and picked up extra time on the PP
  • Mike Modano – won 8/11 faceoffs and also picked up extra time on the PP
  • Krys Barch – had a 1 goal, 3 hits, and ended the game +1
  • Toby Petersen – tried out as center for Richards’ Lundy- -Loui line and lead the team in blocked shots with 3
  • Brian Sutherby – had an assist on Barch’s goal and though not credited with any hits, knocked guys off the puck multiple times to create turnovers
  • Steve Ott – was surprised with the ‘A’ that Richards had been wearing, and played an effective, solid game that included 4 hits and an assist on Lehtinen’s goal
  • Mike Ribeiro – had another multi-point night with assists on Lehtinen and Sawada’s goals.

It was the effort from the entire team that brought home the two points and kept Edmonton from gaining any ground on them in the standings. That same effort will be what secures Dallas’ place in the postseason until reinforcements arrive off IR.

Oh, and a note to people who are worried about Eriksson’s production tailspinning without Richards: 

Riberio has 6 primary assists and 3 secondary assists on Loui’s goals. Meanwhile, Richards has 3 primary and 6 secondary. Modano also has 3 assists on Eriksson goals. 

In other words, he ought to be just fine.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for the physical game, one for pulling Moreau off Ott, and one for pinning the 220 lb captain; +3
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: one for dominating the faceoff circle; +1
Raymond Sawada: three for the goal, one for the very happy birthday, and one for an otherwise solid debut game; +5
Krys Barch: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and one for being priceless; +4
Mark Fistric: one for standing up for Ott and one bonus point for the nice official who avoided the fighting-after-5-minutes-left-means-suspended-1-game rule for him by giving him a double minor instead; +2
Steve Ott: two for the assist, one for being petulant, and one for wearing the ‘A’ well; +4
Marty Turco: one for a solid performance; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist and one for the get-mad get-even mindset; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for leading in SOG, and one for an overall strong game; +7

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 5, 2009

Game Review – 1/03/09 (DAL at EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Point made? Stephan should have started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third period started.

Smid and Sutherby got simultaneous roughings at 2:05.

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

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

Luck was, unfortunately, not on our side.

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

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

Notes:

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

SHR +/-:

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

December 12, 2008

Thursday’s NHL Results

by Kristine

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

read more »

December 6, 2008

Game Review – 12/03/08 (DAL at EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

Puck dropped in Edmonton at 8:30PM CT. Oilers looking for a revenge win, Stars looking for a win streak.

Scoring opened 1:11 into the first with a Shawn Horcoff shot from 40 feet back that Matt Niskanen accidentally deflected in trying to help block it. Assists went to Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.

Loui Eriksson got a tripping penalty at 11:35, but the Oilers did not score.

They didn’t score on Mark Parrish’s hooking penalty at 14:32 either.

Instead, they waited until the Landon Wilson hooking at 18:59.

At 19:48, Lubomir Visnovsky shot from the line, getting another soft goal in on Turco. Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner got assists.

First period ended 2-0 in favor of Edmonton.

Second period started poorly as well.

3:41 and Stars were in a 3-0 hole when Marc Pouliot got the puck under Turco as he attempted to stack the pads. Fruity Pebbles and Visnovsky got the assists.

Liam Reddox (8:51, interference on goalkeeper), Mike Modano (13:06, hi sticking), and Schremp (18:41, hooking) all got penalties, but neither team capitalized on the consequential power plays.

Second period ended 3-0 Oilers.

Third started with improvement.

An opportunity opened up 1:07 in the third when Fabian Brunnstrom provided Mike Modano with a rebound that he quickly made the best of. 3-1, Chris Conner getting the second assist.

Wilson (6:11, interference on goalkeeper), Schremp (8:35, too many men/ice), and Kyle Brodziak (12:59, tripping) all offered up wasted PP chances.

Modano scored again at 18:20, tipping in a shot from Toby Petersen. Darryl Sydor got the second assists.

One goal down, Turco headed to the bench. Unfortunately, Niskanen had a very unfortunate turnover on the Stars blue line that Trevor Daley stared at rather than helping out with, leading to a big empty net goal by Ales Hemsky.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Turco returned to his crease with a minute to play and managed to let in a fifth goal. This one came at 19:47 from Cogliano, with assists by Sam Gagner and Sheldon Souray.

5-2 Oilers final.

Notes:

  • Three game stars, in order: Visnovsky, Horcoff, Modano
  • Turco sported a paltry .809 sv% and let in 4 goals.
  • James Neal and Mike Ribeiro each ended the game -3.
  • Modano led the team in SOG with 7.
  • Matt Niskanen had a pretty bad game, with 4 turnovers.
  • Stars outshot the Oilers (25-22), but were outhit (9-6) and beat in the faceoff circle (57%-43%).
  • Conclusion: The Stars were mentally and physically exhausted, having had their fair share of player controversy in the past few days and playing in their second contest in as many nights. On top of it all, a good number of key players were still out of the lineup. While it would have been a much-needed win, it was also a fairly forgivable loss.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading in blocked shots; +1
Matt Niskanen: minus-one for leading in giveaways and minus-two for the goals he was partially responsible for; -3
Mike Modano: three for each goal and one for leading the attempted comeback; +7
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: minus-one for the -3; -1
Landon Wilson: minus-one for more stupid penalties; -1
Chris Conner: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchinson: one for being the only D to end in the +/- positive with +1; +1
Marty Turco: minus-two for being so easy to score on; -2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribiero: minus-one for the -3, minus-one for the giveaways, but one for the takeaways; -1
Brad Richards: minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; -1
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

December 3, 2008

Game Review – 12/02/08 (DAL at CGY)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars put out a pretty clear message last night: Sean Avery is irrelevant, the topic is redundant, and we’re moving on.

Dallas headed into their game against the Calgary Flames off a home win against the Oilers on Sunday afternoon. The Flames had won their past three games and were looking to continue their streak to four.

The game kicked off with some interesting roster changes for the Stars. Gone was Sean Avery, indefinitely suspended, and added was Andrew Hutchinson, acquired in a recent trade with Tampa Bay.

The first period saw more hits than shots exchanged, with Chris Conner getting fed someone’s elbow at least once and Krys Barch providing a wall for opposing players to awkwardly bounce off of.

The Stars soon stole an early lead when Stephane Robidas’ shot from the point opened up a prime rebound attempt. For Toby Petersen. Yes, the man who went through all of last season without a single goal suddenly found himself with two goals in as many games. To his credit, he was right where he needed to be and didn’t miss a mostly open net, managing to flick the puck past a sliding Miikka Kiprusoff. The goal came at 6:14, with Nicklas Grossman getting the second assist.

Michael Cammalleri got a holding penalty at 12:59, but our power play was killed off, as the Flames apparently only try to score when shorthanded. Really. I think they got more shots on goal during our PPs than the rest of the game.

The first ended otherwise unfortunately. Landon Wilson laid out Mark Giordano, which was entertaining, but Giordano later put big hits on Brunnstrom and Petersen. Also, Robidas got yet another holding penalty as the period wound down, thus allowing the Flames to start the second on power play. Booooo.

On the positive side, Turco once again stoned the opponents through the first, ending the period with 0 goals allowed for the second game in a row.

Starting the second, the Stars successfully killed off Robidas’ penalty, but it gave the Flames the momentum they needed to finally produce. Only 1:44 into the second, David Moss cleaned up a rebound from Matthew Lombardi and Adrian Aucoin.

At 7:53, Fabian “Tiebreaker” Brunnstrom escaped through center ice as Trevor Daley fed the puck up to him from near the Stars blue line. Brunnstrom flew into Calgary’s zone chased by three Flames. He got a shot off on Kiprusoff, and when it was blocked, quickly picked up his own rebound for a goal. Matt Niskanen got the second assist. 2-1 Stars.

Moments later, Cory Sarich introduced his elbow to Conner’s face, in what Razor called an “elbow-rectomy” that led to another 2 minute Stars PP that ended without any lead extension.

Turco kept the Stars’ small lead through the rest of the second, making saves on David Moss and Jarome Iginla without a problem.

The third period began unexceptionally, with both teams fighting equally hard for the win. The fight turned bloody eight minutes in when Lombardi also assaulted Conner’s face, this time with his hockey stick. Conner was left cut and with a few loose teeth, and Lombardi got a double minor for hi sticking.

The Flames killed the entire four minutes of 5-on-3, giving them momentum for a final push to tie the game. Turco’s solid play came through big here, as he stopped every mad push to the net that Calgary delivered, with his usual level of ease. In the final 35 seconds, Kiprusoff was pulled for an extra attacker.

As the scramble for possession continued, the Flames nearly gave up an empty net goal to Brad Richards, who unfortunately shot wide from all the way across the ice.

In the end, it was Loui Eriksson who sealed the deal. The puck, up for grabs in the middle of Dallas’ defensive zone, was skillfully poked past Dion Phaneuf and into center ice. As Phaneuf turned to chase it, Eriksson sped by and followed up on his own clear.

At 19:45, Eriksson collected the puck, making sure he had it, and sunk it quite casually into the open net.

The game ended with the Flames standing behind their own net with the puck. With that, the Stars won two consecutive games for the first time since February.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Turco, Moss, Aucion
  • Hutchinson finished his debut with a team-leading 4 shots on goal.
  • No Star ended in the +/- negative.
  • Grossman and Conner led the team in hits with 3 each.
  • Mike Ribeiro led in TOI (24:13) and takeaways (4)
  • The Stars were outshot 23-37, leaving Turco with a shining .971 sv% for the game.
  • All five assists in the game were from defensemen. All three goals, from forwards.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist and one for leading in hits; +3
Stephane Robidas: two for each assist; +4
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: two for having surgery instead of playing and making us all go 😦 ; +2
Toby Petersen: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and one for style; +4
Chris Conner: one for leading in hits and two for all the damage he took in the game; +3
Andrew Hutchinson: two for solid debut; +2
Marty Turco: two for the impressive amount of saves; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal and one for persistence; +4