Posts tagged ‘Jere Lehtinen’

November 6, 2009

Notes and +/- (DAL vs CGY)

by Chelsea

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Iginla, McElhinney, Richards
  • Stars were 0-5 on the power play and 3-4 on the penalty kill. Once again, they did not capitalize on a lengthy 5-on-3.
  • Dallas gave up their one-goal lead with 50 seconds left in regulation. They then failed to kill off a bad penalty in overtime, resulting in the 3-2 OTL.
  • The Stars outshot the Flames 40-23 but were outhit 36-25.
  • Tom Wandell led the team in takeaways with 3.
  • Stephane Robidas led the team in blocked shots with 5.
  • Karlis Skrastins assisted on both of the Dallas goals.
  • Conclusion: Stars should have taken advantage of at least one of those five power plays. They should not have allowed the game-tying goal with under a minute to play. As horrible as it was to lose the game on a ridiculous call against Grossman in overtime, they should not have gotten to that point in the first place. Still, they outplayed the Flames for most of the game, which is something to be positive about.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: one for a solid game; +1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: one welcome back! point; +1
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Jere Lehtinen: one welcome back! point; +1
Karlis Skrastins: two for each assist; +4
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2

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.

October 15, 2009

Game Review – 10/14/09 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars wanted to make a statement on home ice against the team that spoiled their home opener (and Razor’s Christmas). To do that, they’d have to crack Dan Ellis.

That happened surprisingly quickly when, 3:17 in the first, Ribeiro set up Morrow for a one-timer that sizzled past Ellis. Then, before they’d finished announcing the goal in the AAC, Loui Eriksson sent a slick pass to Richards to put Dallas up 2-0. Only a couple minutes later, Eriksson tipped in Neal’s shot from the high slot. Having let in 3 goals on 3 shots, Ellis was pulled before the middle of the first period.

Pekka Rinne faced a similar fate when, at 8:16, Dan Hamhuis took the first penalty of the game and Morrow scored on the resulting power play. Martin Erat took another penalty in the period’s last second, so the Stars started the second period on another power play.

Brenden Morrow nearly scored a hat trick at the beginning of the middle frame but had the goal waived off because the official had just blown the whistle against Kevin Klein (for hi-sticking Jamie Benn) to put the Stars on a 5-on-3. Loui Eriksson scored his second of the game a minute later.

Though Toby Petersen would eventually notch his first of the season in the last few minutes of the third, the game remained 5-0 through the majority of the second and third periods.

During that time, Dallas took 4 penalties and successfully killed off each one, allowing only 6 power play shots on goal. Having been a major sore spot during the Western Canada trip, having the penalty kill go 100% was huge. Turco came up big multiple times, as did defensemen like Skrastins and Grossman who were solid in clearing out the crease and getting in front of shots.

Late in the third, Marty Turco really earned his shutout with some saves reminiscent of the 07-08 postseason, keeping the Predators off the scoresheet and provoking cheers and applause from the crowd. It turned into a standing ovation as time expired, the final score an impressive 6-0.

It was great to see all of the Stars’ hard work come together at last, after working on both the penalty kill and shootout in practice. For once, they not only addressed their problems (the PK) and showed visible improvement quickly, but did so without sacrificing any of their strong points (even strength and PP).

The big test will be tomorrow against Boston, a struggling but talented team looking to get back on track, and Saturday against Chicago, who definitely had the Stars’ number last season.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Richards, Morrow, Turco
  • Jamie Benn extended his point streak with two assists (1-4-5 in 4 games)
  • Mike Ribeiro did also (2-5-7 in 4 games)
  • Brad Richards had at least a goal and assist for the third straight game, extending his streak (3-6-9 in 5 games)
  • Marty Turco stopped 29 of 29 shots to earn his 37th career shutout and his first win of the season.
  • Every player in the Stars’ top 6 has at least 5 points in 5 games.
  • The top defensive pairing of Grossman-Robidas is a combined +18, with Grossman leading the league as a +10.
  • Conclusion: The Stars came out blazing again, but they won’t be able to relax against the Bruins or Blackhawks like they did in the middle of the this game. However, if they stay sharp and get more of this fantastic goaltending, they ought to come out of the weekend with at least 2 more points.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Matt Niskanen: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Trevor Daley: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for each goal; +6
Jamie Benn: two for each assist and one for quietly racking up 5 points in 5 games; +5
Toby Petersen: three for the goal but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +2
James Neal: two for each assist; +6
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal, two for the assist, one for style, and one for being Loui again; +10
Tom Wandell: one for being awesome at faceoffs; +1
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: three for the shut-out, one for playing the puck without having a single giveaway, and one for being Marty Turco again; +5
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist and one for defensive awesomeness; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist; +4
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for each assist, and one for style; +8

October 12, 2009

Game Review – 10/11/09 (DAL @ VAN)

by Chelsea

Also known as, “The End of The Freebie Power Play Goals Road Trip.”

Game, sorta:

Dallas penalty killing woes continued right through the end of their Western Canada road trip as Marty Turco allowed 2 power play goals that turned a 1-0 Stars lead into a 2-1 scramble that somehow resulted in a 4-3 shootout loss.

As easy as it is to point to Turco for being a gigantic mess in the post-overtime skillsfest, chances are the Stars could have won at least one of their three OTL in regulation had their PK prevented just one of the goals scored.

So who is to blame for the special teams struggle? I would propose that it is not the coaching or the players, but the actual personnel on the ice during a penalty kill.

There was a moment during overtime where the Canucks had the Stars trapped in their own zone for what felt like forever. Dallas was all over the place and it seemed inevitable that they were about to get scored on. All of a sudden, Matt Niskanen (yeah, no, really) pinned one of the Vancouver forwards to the boards and kicked the puck away from him. Stars got it out of the zone and were able to change.

That same Matt Niskanen has gotten all of 2:21 SH TOI this season, compared to Grossman, Skrastins, Robidas, and Daley who all have over 10 minutes already. Daley, Robidas and Grossman have all already been on the ice for at least three power play goals against each.

Defensemen total TOI vs total goals against:

  • Mark Fistric – 27:48, 0 GA.
  • Matt Niskanen – 87:01, 2 GA (1 per appr. 44 min)
  • Karlis Skrastins – 80:35, 2 GA (1 per appr. 40 min)
  • Jeff Woywitka – 24:59, 1 GA (1 per appr. 25 min)
  • Trevor Daley – 98:22, 5 GA (1 per appr. 20 min)
  • Stephane Robidas – 89:50, 5 GA (1 per appr. 18 min)
  • Nicklas Grossman – 79:24, 7 GA (1 per appr. 12 min)

Granted, anyone watching Stars games would see that the Grossman-Robidas pairing has been extremely solid at even strength. However, perhaps it’s time to cut their shorthanded minutes a little in favor of Niskanen or even Fistric.

At forward, there seem to be some stereotypes causing confusion with who deserves time killing penalties.

For some reason, Mike Ribeiro has been on the ice for only 1:38 on the PK. Meanwhile, Brad Richards has had 5:23. That’s more time than Morrow, Neal, and almost as much as Eriksson. Pretty impressive ice time for someone who I would argue is one of the worst straight-up defensive players on the team. This is NOT to say he is a liability on the ice, but…

Brad Richards is a -58 in his career, and has not ended a season with a positive +/- since before the lockout. He has had 3 power play goals scored against him in his 5:23. He is hesitant to take the body and has blocked all of 41 shots since the start of the 07-08 season (that’s 134 games). While he is a fantastic player at even strength and with the man advantage, he should not be logging 5x the ice time short handed as Mike Ribeiro.

Granted, Ribeiro has some dumb defensive moments as a result of his (sometimes overly) creative style of play. However, I believe 100% that when asked to play defense first and foremost, he does it with the same intelligence that he is so impressive with offensively.

In fact, I would bet you will find him in the top 10 or 15 in entire league when it comes to offensive numbers vs penalty killing prowess. Here’s why:

Ribeiro got 81:45 in SH TOI last season and saw only FIVE power play goals against. That’s only one every 16 minutes. If you assume he logged just 60 seconds each time the Stars were penalty killing, and the Stars took 4 penalties every game, it would have taken the other team 4 full games to score a PPG while Ribeiro was on the ice.

It was his first season of getting regular shorthanded time.

In comparison, Richards got 118:11 SH TOI last season and was on the ice for 14 PPGA. That’s one every 8 minutes, or twice as many as Ribeiro.

While there are a lot of ways in which the Stars PK could be improved, from shuffling player combinations to changing strategy to just running drills, my BOLD PREDICTION is this:

Give Matt Niskanen and Mike Ribeiro a chance to take on more responsibility penalty killing, and the numbers will start to improve.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Sedin, Ribeiro, Wellwood
  • Rookie Jamie Benn got his first NHL goal in front of his family and friends with only 1:33 left in regulation to tie the game and force overtime.
  • Marty Turco is on a 5-game losing streak if you look back to last season.
  • Jere Lehtinen returned from injury to play his first game of the season, but Steve Ott pulled an oblique muscle and is now out for an unknown amount of time.
  • Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards, Jamie Benn, and Stephane Robidas all have point streaks going.
  • Conclusion: Marty Turco looked good, not great, but then stumbled again in the shootout. However, it seems that if the Stars fix their special teams problems without losing dominance at even strength, they won’t need to worry about games going into overtime.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading the league in +/-; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one 😦 point for taking a puck to the face, and one 🙂 point for coming back after getting stitched up; +4
Matt Niskanen: one for noticeably stepping up his game; +1
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist; +4
Jamie Benn: three for the goal and one for timing; +4
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: one welcome back! point; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the (very impressive) assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the (very impressive) goal and two for the assist; +5

June 30, 2009

Jere Lehtinen Stays A Star

by Chelsea

The Dallas Stars signed Jere Lehtinen to a one-year $1.5 million contract (with a possible $1 million more in incentives) today. This is a major paycut for Lehtinen, who made $4.1 million last season.

His willingness to take a hometown discount is great news for the Stars, and will hopefully serve as an example to other players looking to sign with Dallas.

The official release is here.

May 9, 2009

Depiction: Remembering 08-09

by Chelsea

Kristine and I took some time to gather a collection of our favorite pictures from what is otherwise a fairly forgetful season. As the second round of the playoffs gets do-or-die (go Caps! go Canes!), we’re going to take a moment to celebrate all the Stars’ good times that got buried beneath the shame of the season’s less-than-desirable end.

______________________________________________________________________________

Opening Night vs Columbus.

You can’t help but smile at Brunnstrom’s “omgIscoredcomehugme” reaction to his NHL debut hat trick.

We started calling Grossman “Saint Nick” after seeing this picture of him and his workshop elves. Months later, it’s still a favorite.

Fistric catches up with Mittens.

While everyone was busy questioning Modano’s ability to play, he was busy proving that he could still fly.

Nobody liked seeing the Morrow-Ribeiro line broken up, so it was no surprise that their reunion brought many happy moments.

Stephan replaced Turco in a 0-5 loss to the Devils. We really wish this had happened more often at this point of the season.

He did have one good save, though.

When Zubov returned from injury on 11/7, we all celebrated. When he went out again on 11/28, it was a little heartbreaking. The 11/7 game against the Ducks was also Mark Parrish’s debut with the the Stars, in which he scored a hat trick.

Okay, so Morrow going out on 11/20 isn’t even close to a happy moment, but you can’t really look back on the season without pausing to sigh and say, “If only Morrow hadn’t gotten hurt…”

Ribs keepin’ us all entertained.

These two really should have played together more often. They both had their struggles, but they definitely make us excited for the Stars’ future.

Yes, this is a good moment. Did any of you reallllly want him in Dallas for four years?

Loui’s first NHL hat trick, against Columbus. We predict many, many more to come.

Neal’s first career hat trick, in Toronto.

Parrish says goodbye to 2008 with a nice goal, making thousands of drunk Texans really happy.

Tipp rewards Neal for a strong game by giving him his first NHL shootout attempt. He scores (awesomely) and wins the game. Everyone wows and suddenly the Stars have a new shootout specialist. By the end of the season, he’d scored on 5/7 attempts.

Go nuts? Okay!

The 2009 ASG…
…a great excuse to sit around all weekend,
watching favorite players show the rest of the league…
…that they’re just ridiculously awesome.

Not a good moment, but definitely a memorable picture.

They were discussing Valentine’s Day gifts, I’m sure.

Can’t help but wonder if Sydor looked at them and saw Lehtinen and Modano.

Swedes!

Those familiar happy feelings that come with scoring on the Sharks.

Grossman doesn’t score often, but when he does, leaping hugs will follow.

They’re like Power Rangers.

He only played a few games at the end of the season, but by the time he’d finished his first shift he’d impressed us. That cannon shot from the point never failed to amaze.

And finally…
Lehtinen warms up for the last home game of the season.

After the game, Stars waited to give their jerseys to fans.

March 19, 2009

Game Review – 3/17/09 (DAL at VAN) and 3/18/09 (DAL at CGY)

by Kristine

Games:

I’m going to try to keep this simple. We lost both these games, and there’s been a lot of talk about why that is. The blame game can be played in many ways here. You could start back at the beginning, and blame Hull for signing Avery. You could also blame Avery for being Avery and not fitting in. You could blame Turco for his world of suck earlier in the season. You could blame Tippett for not keeping lines together. You could blame Jackson for not upgrading our blue line at the trade deadline. If you really wanted to, you could put some blame on Fabian Brunnstrom for not being willing to spend a year in the minors. You could put a bit of blame on Matt Niskanen for being young and not as solid defensively as he could be. Actually if you’re going to go that far, you could probably find some blame to put on just about every single player on the ice and most of the office to boot.

Here’s the thing. It’s just not that simple. You can’t boil it down to “the season sucked because of this player or that person.” It’s been a huge combination of things. Did Avery’s signing contribute to the problems? Yes, I think that’s been made clear. Did Turco’s bad season hurt? Obviously it did. Beyond that, Tippett has done the best he can with the one thing that’s made the biggest impact: injuries.

Look at this list of players who are currently injured: Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Mike Modano, Brad Richards, Steve Begin, Brian Sutherby, Toby Petersen. Four huge names, two important grit guys, and Petersen. Going back in time, add to that list players who have spent (relatively) significant amounts of time injured: Jere Lehtinen, Steve Ott, Stephane Robidas, Fabian Brunnstrom, Landon Wilson, Joel Lundqvist, Mark Parrish. Another impressive list. In fact, it would almost be easier to name the players who have been healthy this season. Off the top of my head? Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, Krys Barch, and our young D. Oh, and Sydor and Morrison. Chris Conner has been healthy, but he would be in the AHL if we weren’t so short on bodies. Same with Hutchinson as he’s been scratched for ages now. Is it any wonder we’ve been losing? Ribs and Loui are fantastic but as we’ve seen lately, they can’t be expected to carry the entire team for the rest of the season.

Because we’ve been battling the Injury Gods all season, the pressure has been on Tippett to keep the playoff dream alive. His solution has been to play intense, playoff-level hockey since about the end of December, and we’re starting to see the result of that. The Stars are exhausted. The past few weeks have been proof of that. Sure, we’ve won the odd game here and there and yes, players are still having great nights here and there. But overall, they look worn out and beaten down. I don’t blame them one bit. I will admit that I do somewhat blame Tippett for pushing them until they have nothing left to give, although I do understand why he did it. He was doing his best to keep his team running, and for a while it worked. The Stars went on that great run in January and early February, but within a few weeks were back to losing. Richards breaking his wrist seemed to be the metaphorical nail in the tire and they’ve been deflating ever since.

There are eleven games left in this season. If the Stars make the playoffs, that’s another at least four games. Can they continue to play at the level they’ve been playing at for that long? I don’t believe they can. Mike Ribeiro and Stephane Robidas are playing nearly 30 minutes a night, and it shows. Mike Modano is out with a lower body injury after the Vancouver game, and I’m sure his injury is made worse by the total fatigue his body must be experiencing. Same with Sutherby leaving last night’s game. How much longer until Robi, Ribs, and Loui push themselves too far and wind up on our laundry list of injured players? We can offer sacrifices and prayers to the Injury Gods all we want, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see them hurt.

The Stars are in 10th in the West now. At this point, take the pressure off. Stop playing the high level of hockey, let the young guys take bigger minutes and rest the top line guys, and see what happens. I would think the health of the team would more important than making the playoffs, especially if you’re making them with a roster that reads like an AHL team’s anyway.

SHR +/-:

DAL at VAN (3/1709)
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one pity point for playing almost half the game with an exhausting 27:35; +2
Matt Niskanen: one for leading in SOG and one for a very solid game; +2
Mike Modano: two for the assist but minus one for the team-high four giveaways; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, one for the two huge takeaways in the first and one for having a very good game overall; +5
Chris Conner: two for the assist and one for being willing to hit when nobody else is; +3
Jere Lehtinen: one yay you’re back point and one for making magic with anyone and everyone; +2
Mark Fistric: one for playing a very physical game; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal, one for leading in hits with five and one for drawing penalties left and right even if nobody could capitalize on the PP; +5
Marty Turco: one for making some huge saves at critical times; +1
Steve Begin: one for winning a team-best 40% of his faceoffs and two pity points for that huge hit he took; +3
Darryl Sydor: one for the solid game; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist, one for playing almost half the game with 27:19, and one pity point for how exhausted he must be; +3

DAL at CGY (3/18/09)
Nicklas Grossman: one for doing the most banging in corners with four hits; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for tying for most SOG with three; +3
Matt Niskanen: one for tying for most SOG with three and one for being strong on the PK; +2
Trevor Daley: one for leading in TOI with 24:47, one for tying for most SOG with three, and one for thinking quickly enough to give Turco his stick and take Ott’s for himself; +3
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal, but minus one for leading the team with three giveaways and minus-one for winning only 27% of his faceoffs; +1
Krys Barch: one because I’d rather have him in the lineup than certain others; +1
James Neal: minus-one for coming off a great game and doing absolutely nothing; -1
Brian Sutherby: one for winning 50% of his faceoffs when nobody else could win any and one “please don’t be hurt” point; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for tying for most blocked shots with four; +3
Mark Fistric: one for being the only D to end in the positive and one for upending Olli Jokinen in front of the net; +2
Steve Ott: one for the fight, one for not losing it, but minus-one for picking it to begin with; +1
Marty Turco: one for not sucking; +1
Darryl Sydor: one for tying for most blocked shots with four; +1

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?

March 10, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Welcome to the return of PRRU. I skipped last week due to the excitement of the trade deadline, and a lot has happened between the last one, on February 24, and this round. Petersen was placed on IR, we acquired Steve Begin from Montreal, Ott got mugged and suspended, we went on a five-game losing streak at home, we snagged Brendan Morrison off waivers from the Ducks, and Landon Wilson returned from his shoulder injury. Looking at that laundry list, it will be interesting to see how our rankings have changed. I’ll be noting not only where we are this week compared to last week, but where we were for my last PRRU post (pre-trade deadline).

Actual rank: 19th in league; 9th in West; 2nd in Pacific.
Record: 31-27-8. L10: 3-6-1.

Andrew’s by Mark Stepneski
Stars: 18 this week; 21 last week; 11 pre-deadline. “Stars’ come off solid 2-0-1 road trip by losing to Montreal to extend their home losing streak to six games.”
Of Note: Nashville Predators at 16 this week; 18 last week. “The Predators’ six-game winning streak ends with a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia. Nashville with a 12-5 edge in third period goals over their last eight games. “
My thoughts: See what losing six straight home games will do? Bump you down on EVERY list – including power rankings and playoff contenders and actual league rankings. What good does a solid 5-of-6-points road trip do when you can’t win a home game? If anything, the back and forth and lack of consistency is dooming the team to missing both the playoffs and a decent draft pick. In the mean time, while the Stars are busy losing, the Preds have been busy winning. They currently sit above the Stars in the 8th seed in the West and seem to be making a hard last-hour push. Are they the Stars’ biggest competition right now? I might say yes if I didn’t believe that the Stars’ biggest competition is themselves.

ESPN by Joy Russo
Stars: 21 this week; 20 last week; 11 pre-deadline. “There’s no place like the road for the Dallas Stars? They matched a franchise record with their sixth consecutive home loss in Sunday’s 3-1 decision versus the Canadiens. Last time that happened? 1970.”
Of Note: Anaheim Ducks at 20 this week; 15 last week. “Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer are still in town, Travis Moen and Kent Huskins are not, and the Ducks seem to be slowly falling further out of playoff contention.
My thoughts: It’s no secret that I hate the Ducks. Their players are dirty and they’re just mediocre enough that I can’t respect them for their talent. So to hear that people consider them to be falling further out of playoff contention makes me happy until I realize that their L10 of 3-6-1 is exactly the same as our L10. Ouch. Going by that, if they’re falling out of playoff contention, so are we. ESPN touches on the fact that our six home losses is good for worst home losing streak since the Stars moved to Dallas. It amazes me, honestly, that anyone can still consider us playoff contenders when we’ve been on the worse side of inconsistent since the end of our five game winning streak at the end of January. Take a look at the last 20 games, which starts in the middle of said winning streak: W W W L W W L W L W W L L L L L W O W L. Can you imagine if you condensed that into a seven-game playoff series? Winning every other game won’t get you very far into the playoffs in that scenario, depending on if your series went W L W L W L W or L W L W L W L. Playing all seven games of every round would exhaust even the best teams. The Stars are going to have to find a way to win more than two games in a row soon if they want to even think about beating other teams in the post-season.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 22 this week;  25 last week; 13 pre-deadline. “Just seem to be sucking fumes these days.
Of Note: St Louis Blues at 19 this week; 14 last week. “Not dealing Keith Tkachuk shows St. Louis believes it can make the playoffs now.
My thoughts: I think THN sums it up well. It’s not the most insightful comment that could be made, but it’s true. The Stars seem to be running on empty lately. They’ll pull out a game or two here and there that will give everyone hope, and then it’s back to sloppy hockey (see: Anaheim, Montreal games). Sometimes they only manage a period or two of good hockey before sputtering out. Is it the result of playing with a playoff mindset for the entire last half of the season? Is the injury situation finally hitting home and wearing them out? Speculate all day if you want to, but I agree with the person who said we should change our motto to “Our Team, Next Time.” Obviously something just isn’t clicking this season, but the parts are all there and ready to work together next season. In the meantime, the Blues are hanging out at the bottom of the playoff race with 66 points. They’re 6-3-1 in their L10 and their next game? A home game against the Stars tonight. We lost to them 3-1 two weeks ago as part of our dismal homestand, and with them pushing for that 8th seed, it’s going to be a tough match-up.

TSN
Stars: 22 this week;  22 last week; 19 pre-deadline. “Grabbing Brendan Morrison off the waiver wire isn’t exactly making a big push for the postseason, but he’s a serviceable stopgap on the Stars’ decimated forward ranks. Key Injuries: C Brad Richards (wrist), RW Jere Lehtinen (upper body).
Of Note: Phoenix Coyotes at 28 this week; 28 last week. “In the grand scheme of things, the Coyotes aren’t necessarily much worse off without Olli Jokinen, Daniel Carcillo, Derek Morris and Mikael Tellqvist, but they’re on a streak of six straight games in which they haven’t scored more than two goals, so it’s hard to say they’re better. Key Injuries: None.
My thoughts: You can add “Fabulous Fabian” Brunnstrom to that list of key injuries, as I consider him to be an important cog in the duct-taped machine that is the Stars this season. I’m disappointed in the lack of impact Morrison has had so far; the only thing he’s really done has been to center Neal and Brunnstrom, which was not nearly as fiery as when Sutherby centered it. However, like TSN points out, he’s a body, and we’re short on those right now. It’s also important to note that no matter how bad we are, we still aren’t the Yotes! Our franchise is firmly planted here in Dallas, and we’re in the 9th seed and not the Coyotes’ 14th. As far as division rivals go, the Coyotes may have our number this season, but we seem to be the only team they can beat right now.

As always, what do you agree or disagree with? I’d love this series to be an open forum for you guys to share your thoughts on where the Stars are at and how they’ve been playing, so please feel free to comment.

March 2, 2009

Weekend Review

by Chelsea

It was a disappointing weekend for the Stars (and Stars fans), who saw the season’s longest homestand end with a pair of back-to-back losses. The typical game reviews for those losses are getting lumped together here in a fabulous fowl-filled Weekend Review! 

The Good:

Mike Ribeiro spent most of Saturday looking positively pissed. He came out with the kind of determination that it takes to win games, and tried his best to drag the team behind him as he collected two goals and an assist. It says a lot when a guy from the losing team gets first star of the game. After the loss, he still looked mad, going as far as to snap at a pushy reporter. Sure, it wasn’t very nice of him, but we’d rather he be mad enough to do something rather than take part in the rest of the team’s pity party.

Sunday’s story was Loui Eriksson, who scored the Stars’ lone goal in the 4-1 drubbing from the Penguins. It took Dallas 46 minutes to get on the board, and by then it was far too late. To look at this in a positive way: Loui displayed enough determination when the game was already lost to get the puck past a hot goaltender and somewhat salvage a deflated power play. Also, Loui scoring again is just good news, if it means he’s getting over the post-Richards growing pains.

It’s probably just coincidence that the season Hull upset hockey karma by signing Sean Avery, Dallas sees the loss of Morrow and Zubov for the entire season. It’s probably also coincidence that Jere Lehtinen, Fabian Brunnstrom, Brad Richards, Landon Wilson, Toby Petersen, and Steve Ott all missed/are missing big chunks of time with injury. And it’s probably also coincidence that Marty Turco has spent most of the season being some goalie that can’t play nearly as well as Marty Turco. And it’s probably just a coincidence that the Stars went from basement to playoff-possible following his removal from the team. Regardless, we’re taking the news that Avery has been put on recall waivers today and will be gone after 24 hours as very very good news. 

The Bad:

Trevor Daley passes Loui Eriksson the puck when he’s in a vulnerable position, and Eriksson gets smushed by Sheldon Brookbank. Daley tries to make up for it by fighting Brookbank and ends up with 17 penalty minutes. Ducks score on the following power play. 

Then Daley comes back and takes two more minor penalties in the game vs. Anaheim. His issues continue against Pittsburgh, and he left the weekend with 23 more PIM than he started with.

Evgeni Malkin introduced his elbow to Darryl Sydor’s head and got away with it. Seconds later, Krys Barch got called for holding, and Malkin scored on the power play.

Stars outshot their opponents 54-41 over the two games, and still lost 8-4. This could be partially attributed to Marty Turco being mentally asleep, as he let in 4 goals on 18 shots against the Ducks. When he got a break Sunday, the Stars responded by giving backup Tobias Stephan little to no support. 

Fabian Brunnstrom ended the Ducks game having not gotten a point in his last four games, and with an even +/- in that span, despite putting out tremendous effort during the homestand. He was benched on Sunday. This didn’t really explain why James Neal, who has had no points in his last 7 games, is a -5 in his last four, and whose overconfidence led directly to at least one goal, still got to play.

The Ugly:

Steve Ott pisses off the entire Anaheim team, who responded with a good ol’ fashioned mugging after the final buzzer. The Stars kinda half-heartedly tried to help out. After the game, Robidas seemed extremely sorry for having let Moen beat Ott’s face in, but Modano seemed to think Ott should have known better than to pick the fight in the first place.

Then, Sunday against the Penguins, Malkin gets away unchallenged with a headshot on Sydor. While you’d expect someone to come to the defense of their veteran player, nobody rose to the occasion. After the game, Sydor seemed rather appalled at the lack of camaraderie as he held an ice pack to the back of his head.

The Stars went into a 6-game homestand sitting on top of a playoff-hopeful log jam. They won their first game… and then went on their worst losing streak of the year to finish it up. 2 out of a possible 12 points saw them straight to the bottom of that log jam.

SHR +/-:

Stéphane Robidas: two for the assist, one for playing a ridiculous 30:05 Saturday, but minus-one for apparent exhaustion that lead to poor defense Sunday; +2
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal and one for actually utilizing his size; +4
Trevor Daley: minus-three for the very bad weekend but one for at least trying to make up for his mistake by defending Eriksson; -2
Mike Modano: two for the assist but minus-one for his complete lack of impact against the Ducks; +1
James Neal: minus-three because we are just fed up with his nonchalant overconfident attitude and bazillion turnovers; -3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist and one for actually having a good game Saturday; +3
Mark Fistric: two for getting 13 hits in the two games; +2
Steve Ott: two for each assist but minus-one for the stupidity surrounding his suspension; +3
Tobias Stephan: one for a valiant effort; +1
Marty Turco: minus-two for urrrggg not this againnnn; -2
Steve Bégin: two welcome-to-the-team points; +2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and one for showing that veteran leadership everyone keeps talking about; +3
Mike Ribeiro: three for each goal, two for the assist, and one for having 10 shots on goal and 5 hits over the two games; +9
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for effort and one spite point because he really shouldn’t have been benched over Neal; +2