Posts tagged ‘Fabian Brunnstrom’

October 15, 2010

Three in a row!

by Kristine

Did you see that?! The Stars kicked ass last night (pardon my hockey language)! They only managed to get 15 shots on goal, but four of them connected with net. The top lines delivered like they should. The checking line played hard. The fourth line was – well, the fourth line. Lehtonen was solid. The penalty kill actually managed to kill penalties. The powerplay got the game rolling with an almost immediate goal. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the boys really earned that third win, and looked like a real NHL team doing it. I don’t have time to review the whole game today, but we’ll be back later with our +/-. For now I want to touch on a few things…

The Stars had a couple big announcements today. First, in another wise personnel move from GM Joe, the Stars added Gary Roberts as a player development consultant. You might recognize the name. Roberts is the man responsible for Neal’s added bulk this season, and he transformed Steven Stamkos from a bench-warmer into a 50-goal scorer. According to the official press release (here), “Roberts will be working with the Stars’ young players throughout the club’s hockey system, at both the NHL and developmental levels, in tandem with the club’s strength and conditioning team, coaches and trainers.” I can’t wait to see what he can do here, especially with Grossman, Fistric, and Wandell. I’m fully behind this decision although I’m a little surprised we can afford to add another person to our payroll.

The other big news today is that Fabian Brunnstrom has been placed on waivers, and they don’t seem to really care whether he’s picked up by another team or he plays in the AHL all season. According to Heika, Niewendyk attempted to trade Bunny but there were no takers; however, he goes on to quote Neiwendyk as saying, “I know there are some teams interested in him. Whether they claim him or not, I don’t know.” So I guess we can read between the lines there a bit and figure that there are some teams interested, but not interested enough to give up anything to have him. So it will be interesting to see if anyone makes a move to get him now. If not, the plan seems to be for him to stay in Austin for the majority of the season. I appreciate that – he really needs to play every night – but I do wonder why we resigned him only to try to trade him and then, when that didn’t work, send him to the AHL. If we didn’t want him, why didn’t we just let him go?

Finally, THN updated their Hart Trophy Watch today. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a running feature where Ken Campbell lists the top 10 contenders for the Hart Trophy at a given time, plus a few on the bubble. Richie made the list at #4 this week, with Campbell noting, “The Stars have shocked the hockey world by getting off to a 3-0-0 start, thanks in large part to Richards. After a couple of years of floundering, Richards is busting his way back into star status.” Maybe now people will stop saying how overpaid he is. I know $7.8 million is a lot of money, but where would we be without him? He has 7 points in three games, which puts him on pace for 191 points this season. Obviously that isn’t a realistic number and his point production is guaranteed to slow down, but for now he’s tied with Ovechkin for first in the league in points and he’s tied for the lead in both assists (Ribs is there with him, for the record) and plus-minus (with Loui and Robi included in the five-way tie). If you ask me, he’s worth those big bucks.

November 5, 2009

Weekly Picture Fantastic

by Kristine

Welcome to the WPF! This week we’re looking at Halloween weekend up until the Flames game last night.


October 30 was Coach Crow’s 1000th NHL game coached, and the Stars honored him before the puck drop.


We finally got Lehts and Mo back November 4th against the Flames.


I’m not sure why Morrow has a black eye when the last time he fought was… last season after Brown nailed Ribs into the boards?


The most exciting new line we have this season – Swedes and Sudsy.


I have a new love of the Ice Girls for getting our Stars to pose with their pompoms. You can see more Stars with poms here.

November 3, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

After a somewhat dismal group of games to close out October, let’s see what the media is saying about the Stars this week.

Actual rank: 10th in league; 6th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 6-3-5. L10: 5-3-2.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 13 this week; 14 last week. Backup netminder (at least in theory) Alex Auld drew back-to-back starts in losses to Florida and Nashville as the Stars continue underwhelming (2-2-2) play at home.”
Of Note: Phoenix at 6 this week; 16 last week. The Coyotes continue to prove they are for real with three straight wins, and Ilya Bryzgalov continues to shine in goal. (He’s allowed just 25 goals in 13 games.)”
My thoughts: Underwhelming is one way to put it. You could also substitute “pathetic” or “uninspired” and be okay. For a team that had a 16-19-6 road record last season, the Stars are winning road games they should not be winning – and losing home games they should not be losing. This season’s 4-1-3 road record is definitely better than 2-2-2 at home, but the L5 of 2-1-2 isn’t stellar. No matter where they play, the Stars need to pick it up. Having a goalie with a breakout season like Bryzgalov would go a long way towards that, but so would some solid defense and consistent special teams. Sound familiar?

TSN
Stars:
6 this week; 11 last week. With four points in the last four games, Fabian Brunnstrom is starting to contribute offensively, giving the Stars all kinds of depth up front. Now, they just need Marty Turco to get over his illness, because he’s been much better than Alex Auld so far this season. Key Injuries: G Marty Turco (flu).”
Of Note: Boston at 20 this week; 20 last week. Not the Bruins handle the man advantage much better, going 2-for-36 (5.6%) over the last 11 games, a trend that might prompt a change in power play personnel, like getting Dennis Wideman back on the first unit in place of Derek Morris, for example. Key Injuries: C Marc Savard (foot), LW Milan Lucic (finger).
My thoughts: Finally, Fabian Brunnstrom gets some credit. Everyone is so busy talking about Holy Cow Jamie Benn that they’re overlooking the fact that Bunny has quietly accumulated six assists and a goal so far. It’s also nice to hear that our starting goalie has been better than our backup goalie this season, considering that’s kind of how it should be. Turco’s been a bit shaky at times, giving up goals at critical times, but his overall game is much better than it was last season. So far he’s got a .917 sv%. More importantly, he’s sitting with a 2.26 GAA in front of a team that’s scoring 3.43 goals per game on average. That’s behind only Calgary, Washington, and Philly, in case you were wondering. It helps that, unlike the mighty Bruins, the Stars are occassionally managing to score on their PPs. With Brad Richards back and healthy, our middle-of-the-league power play should improve. As long as that happens, and Turco keeps up the good work, the Stars should also continue to improve.

Yahoo by Ross McKeon
Stars: 16 this time; 17 last time. “Marty Turco is off to a better start this season than last. You don’t think it has anything to do with it being a contract year, do ya?”
Of Note: Colorado at 2 this time; 30 last time. “Best story of the early season, bar none. Craig Anderson is emerging as a star in goal. And if you haven’t gotten a glimpse of teen-aged rookies Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene you really are missing something.”
My thoughts: Another ranking, another talk of our goaltending. Turco needs to have a big year, but more than that, the Stars need Turco to have a big year. Of course, Turco being off to a better start this year than last doesn’t say much, considering he started last year with 29 goals against in his first eight games. At least this year, he has a viable backup in Alex Auld (who I still believe in despite his rocky back-to-back starts last week). Meanwhile, Colorado has in Craig Anderson what we wish we could have in Turco, as Anderson has been leading the surprise charge to first place in the West for the Avs.

Overall, despite a less than stellar handful of games to close out the start of the season, the media seems to be remaining pretty optomistic about the Stars. It has been an encouraging first month. They have points in 11 of their first 14 – points that could be very valuable when the playoff crunch rolls around. For November, I’m hoping they start picking up those points in regulation instead of giving away points in a good third of the games they play. As much as the points we’ve gained in OT losses could help us in the final crunch, the points we’ve given to other teams could hurt us. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

At time of publication, The Hockey News had yet to update their power rankings for the week.

November 2, 2009

Weekend Notes and +/-

by Chelsea

Notes (DAL vs FLA):

  • The three game stars, in order: Reinprecht, Wandell, Horton
  • All three of Reinprecht’s goals came while the Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line was on the ice.
  • The Stars recovered from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime, but were once again unable to score in the shootout.
  • The game was head coach Marc Crawford’s 1000th behind an NHL bench.
  • Ribeiro’s line was a combined -9, while Wandell’s (with Brunnstrom and Sutherby) was a combined +6.
  • Wandell’s line also combined for 2 goals and 4 assists, including Brunnstrom’s first goal this season.
  • James Neal lead the team with 6 hits.
  • Stephane Robidas and Karlis Skrastins each had 5 blocked shots.
  • Conclusion: The Stars are not going to make the playoffs if they continue to play below their ability every time they face the Eastern Conference.

SHR +/- (DAL vs FLA):

Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist but minus-one for an overall bad game; +3
Jamie Benn: two for the assist but minus-one for an overall bad game; +1
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: two for each assist and one for being the Stars’ best player; +5
Alex Auld: minus-one for a rough outing; -1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal but minus-one for an overall bad game; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5

Notes (DAL @ NSH):

  • The three game stars, in order: Dumont, Hornqvist, Klein
  • Alex Auld played in both back-to-back games due to Marty Turco being out with flu-like symptoms.
  • The Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line was a combined -6, while the Sutherby-Wandell-Brunnstrom line managed a combined +3.
  • Wandell’s line accounted for half of the Stars’ scoring (1 g, 2a).
  • Wandell also tied for the lead (with Mark Fistric) in blocked shots with 3.
  • Conclusion: The Stars’ power play had the opportunity to put the game away for the second time in two games, but came up short. The top two lines need some rearranging if Dallas wants to get more than 1 out of every 4 available points.  Hopefully the return of Modano and Lehtinen can help stabilize the team while they get back on track.

SHR +/- (DAL @ NSH):

James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: three for the goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: meh; -1
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

October 26, 2009

Chemistry by the Numbers

by Chelsea

Well, there really isn’t much to go on for the first Chemistry update of the season.

The one thing that really stood out was the Neal-Richards-Eriksson line. Despite how much Richards is producing, the numbers say it’s Loui Eriksson as MVP for that trio. He’s got 16 chem. points with Neal and 17 with Richards. Richards and Neal together only have 10. My guess is that Loui is getting himself in front of the net for deflections and rebounds off of Neal’s shots (Neal has the first assist for 3/5 of Eriksson’s goals).

For the Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line, it’s really no surprise to find Morrow and Ribeiro clicking again. They have 14 chem. points, compared to 7 each with Benn. It’s also not surprising to see that Ribeiro has the primary assist for 3/6 of Morrow’s goals. Benn has most of his chem. points through his five secondary assists, all of them on Ribeiro or Morrow goals.

There are only two other numbers that stand out.

One of them is Stephane Robidas’ 6 chem. points with Brad Richards, the most of any defenseman with any other player.

The other is Fabian Brunnstrom and Tom Wandell, who also have 6 chem. points. This is mostly notable because Brunnstrom has the primary assist on Wandell’s only two goals. In fact, each of Brunnstrom’s 4 assists are primary, the best primary-secondary ratio on the team.

The chart (confusing, I know), with chem. totals above 6 highlighted:

Here is a link to the Intro to Chemistry post for anyone that missed it: 🙂

October 25, 2009

Notes and +/-

by Chelsea

For games 10 and 11 for the Dallas Stars, there really wasn’t much to say, hence the lack of actual game review.

Notes (DAL @ LAK):

  • The three game stars, in order: Kopitar, Neal, Handzus
  • The Stars were down 4-1 entering the third, but forced overtime thanks to goals from Benn, Fistric, and Neal.
  • Mark Fistric’s goal was his first NHL goal.
  • Benn has now scored in both games against the Kings.
  • Stars power play continued to struggle, unable to cash in on 4 chances in the first two periods.
  • Steve Ott lead in hits with 6.
  • The only forward to block a single shot was Loui Eriksson.
  • Conclusion: It was rather nice to get the extra point, but giving the Kings 4 out of the available 4 points in the two games so far this season is not.

SHR +/- (DAL @ LAK):

Stephane Robidas: minus-one for kind of a rough game; -1
Jamie Benn: three for the goal; +3
James Neal: three for each goal; +6
Loui Eriksson: two for each assist; +4
Mark Fistric: three for the goal and one for the celebration; +4
Steve Ott: one for being Steve Ott; +1
Alex Auld: minus-one for kind of a rough game; -1
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for not being able to win a faceoff; -1
Brad Richards: two for each assist; +4

Notes (DAL @ STL):

  • The three game stars, in order: Turco, Eriksson, Neal
  • Krys Barch, Brian Sutherby, and Steve Ott each had a fight. None of them really won.
  • Ott had the Blues very distracted, drawing 6 minor penalties.
  • The Blues also took 4 roughing and 2 cross checking minors, along with a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
  • The Stars, meanwhile, took 1 roughing, 1 unsportsmanlike conduct, 1 cross checking and 1 kneeing penalty.
  • Both teams also had a small handful of hooking minors.
  • In all of that, only one power play goal was scored.
  • Jeff Woywitka got his first point with the Stars against his old team. However, he also unintentionally aided the Blues in ruining Turco’s shutout. Oops.
  • Toby Petersen lead the team with 5 shots on goal.
  • Conclusion: It was a messy game and the Stars could have blown out the Blues had it not been for Conklin’s 21 saves in the first two periods. Despite the penalty madness, it was maybe the best three consecutive periods of hockey Dallas has managed all season.

SHR +/- (DAL @ STL):

Brenden Morrow: one determination point for trying to score regardless of where the puck was (like on top of the net) or the play having already been blown dead; +1
Krys Barch: one for the fight but minus-one for losing it; +0
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and one for the fight; +4
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist, one for playing so physically that it completely changed the momentum of the game but minus-one for kneeing Crombeen; +2
Marty Turco: two for no mas Taco; +2
Jeff Woywitka: two for the assist but minus-one for helping score on Turco; +1
Brad Richards: two for each assist; +4
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for earning it by getting run over by St. Louis players; +3

October 21, 2009

Weekly Picture Fantastic

by Chelsea

This week’s Picture Fantastic covers from the 14th to today, and features the best images of the best moments in Stars hockey.

A happy captain only means good things for the Stars, who beat the Predators 6-0.

Marty Turco bein’ Marty Turco earned him his first shutout of the season.

Stars celebrate an accidental goal on Huet that resulted from an attempt by Robidas to rim the puck along the boards.

Just too funny not to share.

Check out that ‘A’!

Have a favorite picture you want to share? Leave a comment!

As always, images are property of their respective owners.

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.

October 10, 2009

Game Review – 10/09/09 (DAL @ CGY)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Calgary Flames came into this game as the hottest team in the league, looking to break their franchise record with another win for a 5-0 start. To do that, they’d have to get through the Stars, a team in adjustment looking for their first win of the season.

Despite the fact that Stars starting goalie has put up very good numbers in Calgary over the years, Crawford chose to sit Marty Turco and put Alex Auld in net against the Flames. It was welcome news to Stars fans, anxious to see if Dallas finally has a backup goalie that can be confidently given 20-30 games. The Flames, having played the night before, put in backup Curtis McElhinney instead of Miikka Kiprusoff.

Mike Modano (ribs), Jere Lehtinen (lower body), and Jeff Woywitka (healthy scratch) were also out, while Mark Fistric got to play in his first game of the season.

The plan for the game was to take advantage of a tired Flames team by pressuring early for a lead. Mike Ribeiro really took that concept to heart, scoring off a rebound only 62 seconds into the first. Robidas and Benn assisted. It was the first time in the 3 games that the Stars scored first.

A few minutes later, Matt Niskanen took a holding penalty, giving the Flames the PP that lead to their first real scoring chance of the game.

Keeping in mind that in the last game, the Oilers scored on the first power play, and that every time the Stars took a lead, Turco promptly gave up a goal, escaping that first PK unscathed was huge. Auld was calm and solid, making a number of saves in close to keep the Stars up by one.

In fact, Auld stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first, and Dallas left the first with a 1-0 lead.

The second period started much like the first. The Stars scored early (Sutherby from Petersen and Ribeiro) and a few minutes later were on the PK again. This time, the Flames scored thanks to a nice shot from Jay Bouwmeester.

Auld did not seem rattled, the Stars regrouped, and quickly extended their lead again thanks to a goal from one of their rookie forwards.

Surprisingly enough, the rookie that scored his first goal of the season against the Flames was not Jamie Benn but Tom Wandell, whose energetic efforts finally paid off. His linemate, Fabian Brunnstrom, and Stephane Robidas assisted.

Stars left the second period up 2-1.

Wandell’s line nearly struck again early in the third, when Steve Ott was pushed into McElhinney and Brunnstrom scored. However, the officials decided to call goalie interference on Ott, negating Brunnstrom’s tally and putting the Flames on a power play.

At 5:17 in the third, the Flames scored with the man-advantage for the last time to pull within one goal. Dallas responded to the disappointing call on Ott and the following goal with impressive determination. Auld locked it down, and the only line not to score yet stepped up to the plate.

Loui Eriksson earned his first goal of the season by beating out Bouwmeester for space in front of the crease and redirecting Richards’ shot into the net. Neal got the second assist, bringing his points streak to 3 goals and 1 assist in 3 games.

Calgary pulled their goalie late in the game in an attempt to tie it, but Richards got a shot off into the net past Dion Phaneuf to seal the deal at 5-2.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ribeiro, Robidas, Ott
  • Ribeiro and Richards each had a goal and an assist in the win.
  • Alex Auld stopped 21 of 23 shots and was not scored on at even strength.
  • It was appropriate that Joe Nieuwendyk’s first win as the Stars GM came against the team that traded him to Dallas in 1995.
  • Nicklas Grossman and Stephane Robidas were both on the ice for every single goal scored. Because both of the Flames’ goals came on the power play, both defensemen ended the game +5.
  • The Stars PK has been very generous, unfortunately, allowing 4 power play goals in the last 2 games.
  • Conclusion: The Flames were tired, McElhinney did not always look sharp. This was a game the Stars should have won, and… they did. Auld was strong and steady in net, quietly making saves in key moments. Benn and Wandell continued to impress. A good, well-deserved win, but the real test will be on Sunday.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the awesome +5; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for each assist and two for the awesome +5; +6
Jamie Benn: two for the assist and one for routinely prancing around Calgary’s best defensemen; +3
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: three for the goal, one for being one of the best players on the ice, but minus-one for his continuing struggles at winning faceoffs; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Alex Auld: two for being the solid, confident backup fans have been wanting; +2
Karlis Skrastins: two for more impressive shot blocking, especially on the PK; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

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