Posts tagged ‘Kari Lehtonen’

October 30, 2010

SHR +/-: Dropping the Ball

by Chelsea

October 21, 2010 @ FLA

Nicklas Grossman:
+2 for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas:
+2 for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley:
+2 for the assist: +2
Jamie Benn:
+2 for each assist and +1 for coming back with a bang; +7
Adam Burish:
+2 for sticking up for Ribeiro by fighting Wideman and +1 for doing such a good job of it; +3
James Neal:
+3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson:
+2 for the assist: +2
Tom Wandell:
+3 for each goal; +6
Steve Ott:
+3 for the goal; +3
Kari Lehtonen:
+2 for a good game; +2
Karlis Skrastins:
+2 for the assist: +2

October 23, 2010 vs. NSH

Nicklas Grossman: +1 for leading the team with 8 hits; +1
Toby Petersen:
-1 for consistent faceoff fail; -1
Tom Wandell:
see Petersen, Toby; -1
Kari Lehtonen:
+1 for a solid outing but -1 for the game-winning gaffe; +0

October 26, 2010 vs. ANA

Stephane Robidas: -1 for the penalty that put the Stars down a man for five minutes but +1 because it wasn’t really his fault; +0
Toby Petersen:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby:
+3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson:
+3 for the goal and +1 for being the only one on his line that showed up; +4
Brandon Segal:
+2 for the assist: +2
Mike Ribeiro:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brad Richards:
+2 for the assist but -1 for losing 3x as many faceoffs as he won; +1

October 28, 2010 vs. LAK

Matt Niskanen: +1 for tying for the team lead in hits (what?) with 6; +1
Brenden Morrow: -1 for being uninspiring all night; -1
Jamie Benn:
-2 for that team-worst -3 but +1 because Crow should know by now that he doesn’t work on a line with Ribeiro and Morrow; -1
Toby Petersen:
+1 for centering the only line that didn’t suck; +1
James Neal:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby:
+2 for the assist and +1 for an overall solid game; +3
Loui Eriksson: +2 for the assist; +2
Brandon Segal:
+3 for the goal and +1 for an overall solid game; +4
Steve Ott:
+2 for the assist, +1 for tying for the team lead in hits with 6, but -2 for that team-worst -3; +1
Andrew Raycroft:
+1 for filling in nicely for Lehtonen; +1
Kari Lehtonen:
-2 for a completely unspectacular game; -2
Philip Larsen:
+2 for the assist, +2 for doing more in one game than some Stars D have managed all season, but -1 for a few rookie brainfarts; +3
Brad Richards: +3 for the goal; +3

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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 18, 2010

Death by Penalty Kill

by Chelsea

What happened to the Dallas Stars’ penalty kill?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

October 11, 2010

SHR +/-: Opening Weekend

by Chelsea

For anyone who is unfamiliar with SHR +/-, it’s how Kristine and I rate the Dallas Stars players after every game. We use a standard +3 for goals and +2 for assists. Other things like being a good teammate or doing something with style will usually get them +1. We’ll take away points for things like really bad giveaways, stupid penalties, and so on. Sometimes the good and the bad cancel out, so the player ends up with +0.

The table here shows everyone’s totals, the top and bottom players, and past winners and losers.


October 8, 2010 @ NJD

Stephane Robidas:
+2 for the sliding skate save; +2
Trevor Daley:
-1 for tipping a goal past Lehtonen, -2 for sliding into him on the second goal, and -2 for spending the majority of the game standing around looking like he forgot how hockey works; -5
Brenden Morrow:
+3 for the goal, +1 because it was classic; +4
Jamie Benn:
+1 for putting Volchenkov over the boards; +1
Adam Burish:
+1 for yayyy Burish is a Star; +1
James Neal:
+2 for each assist; +4
Loui Eriksson:
+3 for each goal, +1 for style, and +2 because we decided he’s so awesome that he gets some of the points we took away from Daley; +9
Mark Fistric:
+2 for the assist, -1 for falling at a really bad time but +1 for spending the rest of the game making up for it; +2
Steve Ott:
-1 for all of the pointless penalties; –1
Kari Lehtonen:
-1 for an iffy start but +2 for more than making up for it with a strong finish; +1
Mike Ribeiro:
+2 for the assist, +1 because it was also classic; +3
Brad Richards:
+3 for the goal, +2 for the assist; +5

 

October 9, 2010 @ NYI

Nicklas Grossman: +2 for the assist, +1 for not taking weeks to get his first point of the season this year; +3
Stephane Robidas:
+3 for the goal, -1 for each of those dumb third period penalties; +1
Matt Niskanen:
that beard has got to go; -1
Trevor Daley:
+2 for the assist, -1 for making us all very nervous during the 25:47 he was on the ice; +1
Brenden Morrow:
+3 for each goal; +6
Jamie Benn:
+3 for the goal, +1 concern/pity point; +4
James Neal:
-1 for that timid waste of a shootout attempt; -1
Steve Ott:
+2 for the assist, -1 for more pointless penalties; +1
Kari Lehtonen:
+1 for stealing a point for the Stars and +2 for stealing the second point with a stellar shootout performance; +3
Mike Ribeiro:
+2 for each assist, +1 for his “starry cranium”, and +1 for shootout awesomeness; +6
Brad Richards:
+2 for each assist; +4

January 29, 2009

Game Review – 1/27/09 (DAL vs ATL)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Atlanta Thrashers came to town in for the first time in a number of years, and were greeted by a very sparse crowd. Thanks to some especially icy weather, most Stars fans were confined to their couches and TVs. 

With both teams fully rested after the All-Star break, it seemed like both would give a good show, despite what the standings implied. 

Stephane Robidas returned from his weekend stint in Montreal sans face cage, mentioning that the probably-permanent metal plate in his jaw made it stronger than it had been before. 

Besides Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov, the only still-injured Stars are Fabian Brunnstrom, Landon Wilson, and Steve Ott. Brunnstrom was recently assigned to the Manitoba Moose for a few days, after which he’ll be returning to the Stars’ lineup finally. Wilson’s still nursing a rib injury and there’s been no timetable set for his return. Ott, of course, has been playing, but as far as we’ve heard as not been cleared to fight with his still-healing hand. 

Mark Parrish was scratched for Chris Conner, apparently because he’s coming down with the flu. Get well soon, Parrish!

A couple of nice streaks coming into this game that are worth noting: Marty Turco entered the contest with a career record of 5-0-0 against Atlanta, and Thrasher superstar Ilya Kovalchuk had never scored a goal against Dallas in the 7 times he’d faced them. 

The first period started, the teams meeting each other’s shots, hits, and puck battle wins. However, it became clear which team wanted it more when Jere Lehtinen displayed some unexpected creativity in putting the puck behind fellow-Finn and Thrashers netminder Kari Lehtonen. 

Right off the bat, the Ott-Ribeiro-Lehtinen line had the same energy that made them such a force in the Panthers game (Ribeiro with a hat trick, Ott and Lehtinen each with an assist) and it once again paid off. Only 3:48 into the first, Ott stole the puck from a Thrasher and fed it up to Ribeiro, who threw it haphazardly towards Lehtonen. Lehtonen made the save, but the puck bounced up into the chest of Jere Lehtinen and he bumped it down into the net. 

The call on the ice was a goal, and the call stood despite further review. 

There had been some question from us about why the Thrashers have had such a rough season. It seemed to us that they had more than enough talent and an experienced if unproven coach. However, when instead of rallying after the Dallas goal, they followed it with a string of giveaways and penalties, the picture was a little clearer.

When two Thrashers took penalties within 30 seconds of each other, they all but gift-wrapped another goal for the Stars. However, the power play only managed a few shots on goal, and soon it was at even strength again. 

Marty Turco positively robbed Kovalchuk of the game-tying goal at 13:14 after he was left unattended in front of the net, making a sharp and much-appreciated save to hold Dallas’ lead.

Atlanta got their first power play when Krys Barch took a penalty at 15:07 for holding, but nearly surrendered a short-handed goal to Loui Eriksson. 

The first period ended 1-0 Dallas. 

Second period began.

In the first few seconds, the official raised his arm to signify a delayed penalty against the Thrashers. However, the Stars maintained possession as Ribeiro’s line struck yet again.

Ribeiro displayed some stickhandling wizardry to keep the puck away from the Thrashers, helped by Lehtinen, long enough to complete a pass down low to Trevor Daley. As Ott moved in front of the crease and shook off Rich Peverley, Daley slid the puck out in front. Ott buried it in the net at 00:28, negating the penalty before it was ever enforced. 


With the game set at 2-0, it became a good old-fashioned goalie showdown. Lehtonen on one end, fighting to keep the game within reach for his struggling team and Turco on the other, fighting to seal his team’s second consecutive win.

Lehtonen finished the second period by backing his team through two penalty kills, holding them within reach of the Stars two-goal lead. His team didn’t produce much offense, though, testing Turco with only 6 shots.

Second period ended, third period started.

The final period of the game would prove to be a test for both teams. For the Thrashers, the third is typically when they stepped up their game. For the Stars, a game with two strong periods to start usually ended in disappointment. 

Each team took a penalty in the third, but Atlanta finally managed to turn the momentum in their favor. Turco was peppered with more shots (13) in the third period than he’d faced in the entire first and second (12). This was mainly thanks to the heroic netminding of Kari Lehtonen, who blanked the Stars continually. Meanwhile, the rest of the Thrashers looked a little lazy with the puck.

Plenty of Stars fans will remember the game against the Avalanche in which it seemed Turco might get his first shut out of the season in a 1-0 game, only to let in a goal with less than a minute on the clock and put the game all the way to a shootout.

The Thrashers looked to create a similar situation when they pulled their goalie and put the pressure on the Stars. Turco responded by shutting it down and making a number of big in-close saves to claim his first shut out win of the season.

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game, in order: Turco, Ott, Lehtonen
  • Turco made 25 saves on 25 shots. Ott ended with a goal and an assist. Lehtonen made 31 saves on 33 shots.
  • The Stars outshot the Thrashers 33-25. 
  • Ribeiro’s two assists give him seven points in his last four games.
  • Conclusion: After a run that saw every game ended in overtime or a shootout, the Stars have now won their last two in regulation. Turco’s shutout and the team’s ability to stand up consistently in front of him were also a nice change. Can they reach that illusive 3-game win streak against Detroit?

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: one for embracing his physical side; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for tying for the team lead in +/- with +2; +1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +3
Mike Modano: one for leading in takeaways; +1
Toby Petersen: minus-one for returning to his low-impact ways; -1
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and one for tying for the team lead in +/-;  +4
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for leading the team in hits, and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +7
Marty Turco: three for the shut out and one for winning it; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +5