Posts tagged ‘Joe Nieuwendyk’

October 20, 2010

Power Rankings Round Up

by Kristine

Welcome back to the Round Up. This week, there’s a lot of focus on stats at THN and TSN, and ESPN rates based on season predictions in addition to play so far.

Actual rank: 8 pts, good for 1st in Pacific, 2nd in West, 5th in league.
Record: 4-1-0. L10: 4-1-0.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun (Oct 18)
….Stars: 5 this week; 3 last week. “OK, OK … I can’t totally ignore early-season perfection. Brad Richards (UFA July 1) has been on fire, and so has goalie Kari Lehtonen, who is the masked man GM Joe Nieuwendyk is gambling on to turn around the fortunes of this franchise.”
….Of Note: Chicago at 8 this week; 22 last week. “Two weekend victories and Hawks fans can step off the ledge. Two weekend wins by Marty Turco, no less, I might add. The veteran netminder was terrific in both victories.”
….My Thoughts: Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way. Turco is starting to play better without us, and we’re already playing better without him. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, good! Glad we’re doing better without him because I spent all last season wishing he would go away.  But on the other hand, why does he have to be playing well too? It’s like a breakup. You want to be the one moving on while the other person flounders around without you. Or maybe that’s just me… In any case, I’m happy to see that we’re still at 5th in this week’s ESPN rankings, because LeBrun stated in his intro that he’s ranking teams this week based on his projects “for the rest of the season, too. So no, the Leafs and Stars will not be ranked 1-2.” Fair enough. If that’s his criteria, I am MORE than happy with 5th. That puts us smack in the middle of the playoffs. Just for fun, let’s see how those playoffs would shake out if the league really ends up in the order LeBrun has it in this week.
….Taking into account division leader seeding, the first round in the East would look like this: Capitals (1) vs Thrashers (8); Maple Leafs (2) vs Penguins (7); Flyers (3) vs Lightning (6); Bruins (4) vs Canadiens (5). Some good match-ups there. I’d be interested to see Flyers vs Lightning especially, and the Habs would have a chance to redeem themselves from their first-round loss to the Bruins last year. Then in the West, you would have: Red Wings (1) vs Avalanche (8); Kings (2) vs Sharks (7); Blackhawks (3) vs Canucks (6); Predators (4) vs Stars (5). Kings vs Sharks would be fun, and serve to eliminate a Pacific team right off the bat, like last year with Sharks vs Ducks. I would be okay with facing the Preds in the first round. We were 2-1-1 against them last year and 2-2-0 against them in 08-09.
….This is a pretty useless exercise since there is a looooonnnnggg season still ahead of us and chances are very, very slim that the playoffs will look like this at all. But if anything, it will be interesting to look back and see who’s still on top.

TSN by Scott Cullen (Oct 18)
….Stars: 1 this week; N/A last week. “Such is the dominance of the Stars through four games: while all four games have been wins, two were via shootout and one in overtime, so while it’s a strong start for the Stars, it cannot be overstated how premature these rankings are at this stage of the season. Key Injuries: LW Jamie Benn (concussion).”
….Of Note: Florida at 6 this week; N/A last week. “Such is the nature of the early rankings, the Panthers have recorded shutout wins in half of their games, allowing a total of five goals against in four games. As great as Tomas Vokoun (1.26 GAA, .952 SV%) is, 40 shutouts this season is a longshot. Key Injuries: None.”
….My Thoughts: This is TSN’s first power ranking of the season, and the Stars are first. It’s still weird to me that we were the last unbeaten team in the league (Toronto lost their fifth game about an hour before we did), and I appreciate that we’re getting credit for it around the league. However, Cullen makes a good point – only one of our four wins to start the season was in regulation. We still found ways to win in overtime and the shootout, but I’d really love to stop giving 75% of our opponents an OT point. So how much does our strong start really mean? It’s hard to say. On the one hand, there have been some huge positives in the first five games. I can’t say enough about how solid and calm Lehtonen has been in net so far. The top lines are churning out points like it’s their job (oh, wait…), and the league’s top five in plus-minus are all Stars. Niskanen is actually laying hits on people, Burish has a great energy about him, and overall everyone seems to have a great attitude. But. There’s always one of those, isn’t there? But we can’t overlook the fact that we are dead last in the league with our disastrous PK. Chels put up a great post about how that could improve, but unfortunately for all involved, nobody important cares what we think.
….Another point of concern is that we’re allowing an average of 3.00 goals against per game. That isn’t worst in the league, but it’s close at 21st. Best in the league? The Panthers, who we play tomorrow night, at 1.25 goals against per game. I guess you could consider it lucky that we’re at the top of the league in goals FOR per game (at 3.60), but they’re right behind us with 3.00 G/G. That really doesn’t balance out in our favor. In order to beat them, we’re going to have to take FAR fewer penalties and allow far fewer goals against. One way to do that might be to take a long, hard look at our shots against per game versus shots for per game, a ratio that averages out to 38.0 : 21.8 (second to last and last in the league). If you isolate those stats, it’s amazing that we’re winning hockey games. If there are solutions to these problems, they need to be found quickly.

THN by Adam Proteau (Oct 20)
….Stars: 5 this week; 5 last week. “Only Anaheim averages more shots allowed than Stars’ 38.0”
….Of Note: New Jersey at 29 this week; 29 last week. “Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner a combined minus-18.”
….My Thoughts: Oh look, I’m not the only one calling out the Stars on how many shots per game they’re allowing. I don’t even know what else to say about this, other than it needs to change. As far as stats go, I’m just glad not to be a Devils fan. They’ve had a rough start to the season – 1-4-1 – and three of their top players are a combined -18. They aren’t the only ones struggling – even without them, the rest of the team combined is -29. Only four players are pluses (maxing out at +3), four are even, and the rest are at least -1. In contrast, only five Stars are negatives (with -3 being the worst), five are even, and the rest are at least +4. Of course, stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do provide some helpful details. I’d talk more about this, but quite frankly I’m already sick of analyzing numbers. Let’s just hope the Stars can improve a few areas of their game so we don’t have to hear about these things all season.

So there you have it, everyone. Do you agree or disagree with these rankings?

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.

September 9, 2009

No Pressure?

by Kristine

When people are discussing what went wrong with the Stars in 2008-2009, a lot of them will say that they crumbled under the pressure of a highly successful playoff run. A lot of people will say that the expectations put on them by the media at the start of the 08-09 season were just too much.

Thank goodness there’s none of that pesky pressure on the team as they gear up for the 2009-2010 season. Oh, wait…

Pretty much every part of this team and their game has pressure on it. First and foremost, they will be expected to hit the ice with their skates on fire. There has been plenty of criticism based on the slow start they got off to last season. We’re the first to admit that if they had started on a good note, their troubles with injuries wouldn’t have hit nearly as hard. This season, getting a strong start and winning some games immediately is imperative.

Then there’s the team itself; the individual players that compose it. There are plenty of players for whom 09-10 is a contract year, and several of them are Olympic hopefuls. We’ll be putting a post up later featuring a look at who’s who in training camp that goes into more detail on individual expectations, so I won’t delve too deep into it here. Suffice it to say, the outside pressure will be nothing compared to the pressure the players will be putting on themselves.

This is especially true for Captain Brenden Morrow, who will be making his triumphant return from last year’s season-ending torn ACL. He’s going to be focused and ready to motivate his troops. He did his best to lead the team last season, but his on-ice influence is more important than anyone realized. He needs to bring his A-game on the ice and his best leadership skills off it.

I imagine Tom Hicks is also feeling some pressure. He needs to prove that he made the right decision in bringing in Joe Nieuwendyk as the new GM, and Nieuwendyk needs to prove that he made the right decision in firing Dave Tippett in favor of Marc Crawford. The upper management change is the biggest shake-up of the off-season, and nobody is sure what to expect. If the Stars have a great 09-10 campaign, it will be easy to blame 08-09 on the management. If they don’t have such a great season, it could be back to the drawing board for Hicks.

Overall, it would be a mistake to think that there is no pressure on the Dallas Stars this season. It’s of a different kind, certainly. Prior to 08-09, all the expectations placed on the team were media-driven. Now, it’s an internal pressure. The Stars have as much to prove this year as they did last year – if not more. The difference is that this year, they have to prove it to themselves.

June 11, 2009

Why Crawford Is Not Sean Avery

by Chelsea

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

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

My main concern, though, was this:

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

Tippett let the team play with passion, with emotion.

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

Maybe, but probably not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 10, 2009

Nieuwendyk and the Big Picture

by Chelsea

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

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

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

Now Dave Tippett has been fired.

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

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

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

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

June 10, 2009

Tippett Fired, Replaced By Crawford.

by Chelsea

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

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

May 31, 2009

Joe Nieuwendyk: Stars GM

by Chelsea

It was announced today that the two-headed monster experiment is officially over, to be replaced by the bouncing ball of sunshine known as Joe Nieuwendyk.

Are you as thrilled as we are?

Over the past two days, there was an explosion of everything Nieuwendyk. In case anyone missed anything, here’s a nice little list:

Andrew’s is the best place to go, with an amazingly thorough collection of audio clips and articles:

Mike Heika’s DMN Stars Blog also has a bunch of posts worth taking a look at, including Les Jackson’s side of things, more quotes from the press conference, a link to a video of the press conference, and more.

The Dallas Morning News is also a great place to find an extensive list of articles on the topic:

The Hockey News offers this piece, which you should read even if you’re tired of this topic, because it gives a little bit of insight on the relationship between Morrow and Nieuwendyk.

Defending Big D has tidbits from the press conference, a post about the tasks Nieuwendyk will be facing this offseason, and a couple of things that stood out from the press conference.

Head over to Penalty Killing for some thoughts from Patty (in Dallas) that stray away from reusing news conference quotes into excellent-insight territory.

The official Stars site already has his GM bio up, along with an article that includes a link to news conference pictures.

Here’s the post from Ralph Strangis.

Puck Daddy put up a post, which again is worth reading even if you’re sick of this topic, because the comments give a strong hint about how other teams’ fans feel about the move.

And finally, since the general manager duo of Les Jackson and Brett Hull had some great nicknames (HullJack, two-headed monster), it’s only a matter of time before Nieuwendyk gets one. How about “GM Joe”?

October 27, 2008

Mr. Monday: Brenden Morrow

by Chelsea

Best known as our captain, Brenden Morrow’s rise through our SHR +/- came largely from points he earned off ice. Not to be mistaken, though, he’s also only 2 on ice points behind Robidas and Modano (tied for first). Combined, he’s at 42 points, second only to Robidas (who will not be Mr. Monday yet, because there’s already a post about him here and well… we figure he’ll be at the top of the list for awhile.)

There’s a lot of common knowledge about Morrow, like the fact that he claimed his captaincy straight from Modano himself. He spent most of his time with the Stars going by “Mini-Mo” or “Minnie”, which I’m sure he’ll always appreciate. He’s got himself a big new house, a pretty blond wife, an adorable daughter, and a new set of twins. In late 2006, during a game against the Blackhawks, opponent Radim Vrbata accidentally skated over his right wrist. Two tendons were severed, and it was questioned if he’d ever play hockey again. However, warrior that he is, Morrow returned with wrist guards and determination and now plays on the top line with “hockey gangsta” Mike Ribeiro.

I rather liked Razor’s recap of the skate-wrist incident,

We were in Chicago right after Christmas and Radim Vrbata of the Hawks attempted to jump over a prone Morrow during the game. As he did his skate blade sliced across his wrist. Morrow leapt to his feet and bolted for the Stars dressing room in excruciating pain. The pain was so bad he reportedly bit clean through his jersey.

The injury was repaired, and over the half season he spent on IR the wrist healed, but when he returned to play he was forced to deal with a sort of “skate-phobia”.

He admitted to fearing blades at times in games and it even disrupted his sleep patterns.

Thankfully he says he’s over it now, but in the last months of the 06-07 season it was occupying his thoughts and dreams.

Speaking of injuries, did anyone besides Kristine and me catch Morrow’s magical rubber arm in last season’s playoffs? I forget the game, but he basically tried to check someone, missed, bounced off the boards, and landed on his arm in a way that we were sure that it was either A) broken or B) out for the season. And yet… he finished out the game and claimed it “looked worse than it felt”. Magic!

But, yeah. We’re all glad that he’s healthy now, of course, and hope to see him stay that way for a long, long time.

How about some Morrow videos? Granted, any true Morrow-lover has probably already seen these, but I think they’re always good for rewatching.

  • Morrow brings us “cheesy rebound”.
  • Morrow mangles Michalek.
  • Morrow is bigger than Matt Damon.
  • Morrow is injured, unbalanced, and fiesty.
  • Morrow experiences exhaustion-fueled uninhibited joy.
  • Morrow and Sean Avery have something in common.
  • Morrow likes driving the Stars-decorated Expedition.
  • Morrow gets a good laugh at a dancing Flyers fan.
  • For those that want to do a little more digging: Brenden Morrow 1997 Entry Draft, Brenden Morrow Interview, Brenden Morrow 06-07 Highlights, and FSN Feature – Casino Night. Put these in the Stars Vision search box.
After watching these, I’m sure you’re hungry for some of the lesser known things about Brenden Morrow. If you did watch them, you now know that he likes karaoke, used to be a chunky kid, idolizes Brett Hull, thinks loogies are funny, and is otherwise easily amused.
But, what else?  Here are some interesting Q&A with Morrow, from a DMN piece in 2007:

DT: What is your usual routine to get ready for a game? Do you have some crazy superstitions before a big game?

Brenden Morrow: Two-hour nap, a little coffee and left before right with all my equipment. Those are my superstitions.

Robbie: Do you guys still play pranks on the new kids (tape on the skate blades, etc.)?

Brenden Morrow: When Marty was a rookie and I was in my second year, Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner (with help) took everything from our hotel room – beds, dressers, televisions, art work … even lightbulbs – and put it all in our bathroom at the team hotel in San Jose. We have always vowed to pass that prank down, but we haven’t done it yet. Maybe this year …

The rest is here.

In my personal experience, Morrow has always been very personable with his fans. The two times we’ve waited outside practice, he’s shown up happy to sign autographs. His weekly segment on BaD radio are always good for a listen – in the most recent one, he [very] reluctantly admitted that they had not in fact gone to dinner with Avery in New York, but did meet up with him later that night. He’s also admitted to his attention wandering a bit during penalty box time, asking if it was Bob and Dan he’d seen dressed up as vikings during the Oct 15th game (Dan was – dressed as a medieval knight, actually).

Sometimes, (see PIM this season below) Morrow’s frustration gets the better of him. After getting a goal disallowed because it bounced off his thumb and not his stick, provided us with this gem:

His disallowed goal, added to a previous call from the Toronto war room this season toward the Stars, prompted Morrow to say it was “the second horse**** call from Toronto this season.”

And that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he had recently? According to Friday’s BaD Morrow show, he apparently saw another teammate chirping at an official and felt like jumping in. Silly Morrow, actin’ like a Neanderthal. We know he can do better! In fact…

This year, Morrow has played all nine games and registered 3 goals and 7 assists. He’s also put up a hefty 20 penalty minutes and gotten 31 shots on goal. Making the iffy assumption that this will be a consistent trend, his 2008-2009 season will look like this (in comparison to his 07-08 season):

82 games played (82).
27 goals (32).
63 assists (42).
90 points (74).
182 penalty minutes (105).
282 shots on goal (207).

Morrow’s never actually had a 90-point season with the NHL, so here’s hoping!

So, since I’m 30 minutes past the time I’d intended to publish this, it’s picture time!

When determined, Morrow manages look a bit like Kirk Cameron.

When determined, Morrow manages look a bit like Kirk Cameron.

Happy Morrow means happy fans.

Happy Morrow means happy fans.

And one from Kristines flickr collection.

And one from Kristine's flickr collection.