Posts tagged ‘Mikko Koivu’

November 27, 2008

Game Review – 11/26/08 (DAL at MIN)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars were in Minnesota to face the Wild for the second time this season. The first we met, backup Tobias Stephan played and was only scored on during the Wild PP in a 4-2 Stars win. That game was a big win, as the Wild had yet to be beaten in regulation and sported an unbeaten PK. Neither of those records escaped unscathed. 

Tonight, the Stars and Wild met again, this time with still-struggling Marty Turco in the pipes. It was a bit of a homecoming for Dallas’ Matt Niskanen, Mark Parrish, and Toby Petersen, who are all Minnesota-born. Niskanen, having been good against the Wild in the past, resumed his spot in exchange for Doug Janik being scratched. 

Game started at 7:00 PM CT.

Scoring nearly opened with a shot from Mikko Koivu that rang off the post. It’d be the first of many unlucky moments for Koivu. 

I was taking notes during this game, and the first one was here, at 3:30. A quote from Razor, “And Niskanen- why not shoot it?” Yes, that’s right, Niskanen got brave with the puck.

The second note was at about 6:00, when Neal caught an airborne puck at a weird angle and managed to pass it to Avery, who… completely didn’t see it until it was behind him and the Wild had it. Erg, Avery.

But, anyway. Scoring actually opened at 8:41, courtesy of James Neal. Brad Richards unintentionally began the play when he shot the puck towards the net and it bounced off the skates of Martin Skoula. He had possibly the two best people to back him up, though; Loui Eriksson grabbed the loose puck, deftly protecting it from James Sheppard long enough to pass it to a net-crashing Neal. Neal’s speedy wrister beat Backstrom and put us on the board. 

This moment was important for many reasons. It was Neal’s first career goal in an away game, good to get that out of the way, and the Stars have a very strong record this season for when they score first (6-2-1). 

However, the Wild came back with a vengeance, destroying the Stars lead in a matter of minutes. 

At 9:49, Eric Belanger scored on a rebound from Brent Burns and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Blame goes partially to Sergei Zubov and Darryl Sydor, who (respectively) wandered out of position and weren’t able to claim the loose puck.

Then, at 12:45, on a Wild power play (can thank Landon Wilson for that one, having gotten an interference minor at 11:05), Owen Nolan broke the newly-made tie. That play was just sloppy all-around, with Turco committing to the wrong shooter and Stephane Robidas unable to cover his mistake. Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen got the assists.   

The official had us all referring to our rule books when, at 13:26, he called a face-off violation penalty on Andrew Brunette. Razor seemed surprised, saying, “It was a new rule a couple years ago and I’ve never seen it called.” Ralph agreed that he’d never seen it called either. 

The power play did not result in a goal, but it had good points from Neal (who I noted as being “all over the puck”) and Sean Avery (who Razor noted as creating a “wonderful disruption” in the crease). Also, not long afterwards, Niskanen got a highlight-worthy hit in when he smeared Benoit Pouliot across the boards. 

Neal and Parrish both did their bests to cram the puck in behind Backstrom, but the period ended 2-1 Wild.

Second period…

Started off painfully. Brunette, seemingly to make up for his face-off issues earlier, tipped a shot from Skoula past Turco at 1:06. Nobody saw it coming, except maybe Brunette. Eric Belanger with the second assist.

A minute later, 6’8” 260 lb Derek Boogaard did his best to squish 5’11” 190 lb Robidas into the boards. Robidas, us at SHR, and Krys Barch all took offense at this. Barch shoved Boogaard in the side of the head as he rose from the hit, Robidas gave him a shove in the back, and Boogaard challenged Barch to a scrum. Despite being 6” shorter and 30 lbs lighter, Barch accepted. He dealt with the size difference by clinging to Boogaard’s jersey and holding on for his life while his kidney got tenderized by an enormous fist. Better that than his brains, though.

Both got five for fighting, and Boogaard got an extra two for elbowing. 

Once that PP was killed off without a SOG, the Wild got one of their own when Toby Petersen took a hooking minor at 6:01.

At 6:20, the game nearly slipped out of reach when a shot from Koivu snapped across Turco’s crossbar and set off the goal light. However, the officials went to review the goal for such a lengthy amount of time that, when Wild momentum had been effectively lost when they returned with the no-goal verdict. Turns out, the puck went from crossbar to pipe and out again without ever crossing the goal line. 

With the tiniest bit of momentum offered, the Stars grabbed on and refused to let go. The penalty was otherwise killed and Turco reacted with what appeared to be a new determination; three goals were enough for one game. 

Around 12:15, Nicklas Grossman did one of his “I am taller and can force you to the ice on your back with one shove” upendings that we love so much. But then, at 15:29, he grabbed someone for a holding minor and put the Stars on PK again.

That PK almost ended badly, with a flurry of action in front of Turco, but he did his job well, and 17:30 James Neal emerged from the scramble alone with the puck.

As he crossed center ice, it looked like Neal would get some help from Grossman as he emerged from the “sin bin”, but he instead went straight to the bench. By the time he got to the Minnesota blue line, it was him, Bergeron, Kim Johnsson, and Cal Clutterbuck. Neal’s sheer determination led him to do something we’ve been sorely lacking- instead of waiting for his teammates, he risked a shot. Backstrom blocked the shot, but as Neal, Bergeron, and Clutterbuck closed in on the rebound, it was knocked into the net.


Looking closer, you can see that it was apparently Bergeron who offered a solid surface for the puck to deflect off of and into the net. You can also see Backstrom staring at the goal he thought he stopped. Whoopsies. 

Goal was counted at 17:40 to an unassisted Neal, since it would be cruel and backwards to give the assist to a member of the team he scored against. 

Then Barch hit Clutterbuck which made Pouliot mad so he roughed Barch and got a penalty.

During the PK, a clearing attempt bounced off Neal’s hand, and he retreated to the bench to have it looked at. He resumed play shortly after, so everything seems alright, but… Ott played out a game with a broken hand. Hopefully this time, no news is good news.

Dallas ended the period down one, but as Razor put it, “They’re behind, but they’re in this.”

Favorite quote in the entire game came from Razor, naturally, at the beginning of the third:

“The big puck-pursuing puppy, James Neal.”


I concur.

Avery went offside for probably the 10th time in the game, and when the official whistled him, he started to argue it. Really? Going to debate about whether or not you were offside? Annnnyway.

Koivu was thwarted for the third time in the game when he was joined by a teammate in a 2-on-1 rush against Robidas towards the Dallas net. Robidas used his classic dive ‘n’ slide to great effect, and they were unable to score. 

He was thwarted a fourth time soon after, in a mishap that had Turco stumbling against his net and knocking it loose, followed by some flopping save attempts and a Koivu goal. Because of the net not being off its moorings, the goal was automatically nullified. 

Between the two no-goals, Neal’s persistent rushes to the net, and some general good luck, the Stars constructed a momentous third, the likes of which not seen since last season’s playoffs. 

Neal proved his defensive worth as well, saving Dallas from a possibly game-ending Minnesota goal with his attentiveness and quick reflexes. 


Then, in one swift move, Brad Richards dispatched rumors that he’s entirely unable to put a puck in a fairly open net while simultaneously tying the game. He escaped from the corner behind Backstrom’s net with the puck, patiently waited for the defenseman and goalie in his way to drop to block any low shots, and shot it into the top corner very nicely. Loui Eriksson and Landon Wilson got assists. 3-3 at 8:30 in the third.

Mike Ribeiro and James Neal both nearly got tie-breaking goals, but that right would eventually go to our team leading goal scorer. 

At 13:00, Robidas blasted a shot through a mess of bodies, including that of Loui Eriksson, who tipped it in to give the Stars their first lead since ten minutes into the first period. They’d successfully dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole, and only had to keep the Wild from pushing the game into overtime.

It certainly helped that Brent Burns slashed Avery at 17:13 and spent 2/3 of the game’s remainder tucked safely away in the penalty box. The Stars didn’t score, but kept the Wild from an empty net assault until the final thirty seconds. Turco finished out the game with some important saves, and somehow, a roughing penalty at 20:00 against someone who was nowhere near him. I dunno.

The important thing is that the Wild did not score, and the Stars beat them 4-3 to claim a full 2 points and take a small step out of the league’s basement. 

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game (in order): Neal, Belanger, and Burns
  • Turco stopped 25 out of 28 shots, for a sv% of .892
  • The goals were the first career away goals for James Neal, whose previous 3 had all come in home games. They also marked his first career multi-point game.
  • Loui Eriksson now has 7 points in 5 games, with 10 goals and 7 assists for the 21 games this season. This is also known as “tied for 20th overall in the league for goals scored”, “on track for a 40-goal season”, and “five goals away from breaking his career best”. 
  • Someone please teach Avery the basics of the blue line, and how to properly cross it.
  • Jacques Lemaire might be a wonderful coach, but he’s a bit of a sore loser.
  • Goaltender Niklas Backstrom entered the match with a 44-0-3 career record when leading after the second period. He exited 44-1-3.  
  • For a team that’s been outscored 22-11 in the third period this season, the fact that the Stars outscored the Wild 2-0 in the third is hopefully a sign of positive change.
  • You can’t ignore, however, the fact that the Stars are now 0-16 on the PP for the last three games.
  • Stephane Robidas led the team in TOI, though Zubov and Daley were close behind.
  • Robidas also led in blocked shots, with 3. 
  • Daley led the team in +/- as a +4. Robidas was +3, and now leads the team in that regard as an overall +7.
  • James Neal led in SOG (5), though everyone but Fabian Brunnstrom had at least one.
  • Conclusion: Turco was good, but still had his share of costly mistakes. While a lot of this win can be attributed to luck, a good portion was also due to a change in attitude. Instead of giving up when they fell behind, the Stars finally showed a glimpse of how their team looks when rallied together.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for the strong +/- and blocked shots; +3
Matt Niskanen: one for a solid game; +1
Trevor Daley: two for impressive defense; +2
Krys Barch: one for standing up for Robidas, one for sheer bravery, one for the fight, but minus-one for losing it; +2
Sean Avery: one for crowding the crease but minus-one for all the offsides trouble; +0
James Neal: three for each goal, one for style, one for determination, and one for saving a goal; +9
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for each assist; +7
Landon Wilson: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for the phantom roughing penalty; +1
Mark Parrish: one for persistence; +1
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for trying too hard for pretty goals; -1
Brad Richards: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for finally ending in the +/- positive; +1

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November 26, 2008

Sidney Crosby is a Tool: SHR!’s View of the NHL

by Chelsea

With the Dallas Stars slumped in a 6-10-4 hole at the bottom of the league, we at SHR! felt it was time to stop being so introspective. We’ve picked, prodded, and yelled at everyone from the players to the owner, and now it’s time to move on (at least until the next game). Team bias aside, here’s how we feel about some other players across the league this season.

Note: All the links go to images, videos, and articles that we felt illustrated our feelings best. So please, don’t hesitate with the clicking. 
 

Sidney Crosby
First overall draft pick in 2005. Winner of the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Hart Memorial Trophy. 21 years old and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Led his team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and failed (despite his best efforts) to grow any semblance of a beard through the entire run. Also, he’s a total tool. In a meeting with a pair of original Penguins season ticket holders, Crosby responded to the couple’s enthusiasm with monotonous ‘Oh’s and ‘Okay’s. A 9-year-old can do your spinny move, Crosby. It doesn’t make you special or make up for the absolute lack of personality. Your own team’s fans call you “Cindy” for a reason.
 

Evgeni Malkin
Basically a slightly older, Russian, less dynamic version of Crosby. Since we’ve already determined that Crosby’s a tool, that means Malkin is too. Pity. He’s first in the league for assists right now, but sitting under that kind of stifling shadow, he’ll always be at the bottom of our books (especially when it comes to Russian players). Should he ever escape Sid and the Pens, we’ll be on the lookout for the much-anticipated reveal of his personality. Until then, though, no thanks.   
 

Alexander Ovechkin
Now here’s a Russian player we can get behind. Sure, he’s got aesthetics of a Cro-Magnon, but behind all that scruff is a highly-skilled someone with a real love of the sport. Known for exuberant goal celebrations, a goofy grin, incredible scoring ability, and a seemingly never-ending list of quirks, Ovechkin is credited with bringing much-needed personality and talent into the NHL. He was first overall in his draft year (2004) and, thanks to the lockout, ended up debuting versus Sidney Crosby, effectively stealing the Calder Memorial Trophy with a stunning 52 goal/106 point season. Really though, we mostly love him because he makes us laugh just about every time he gets in front of a camera or near a reporter. 


Alexander Semin
The “other” Alex is generally overshadowed by Alex Ovechkin, but we found that there’s a lot to like about this guy aside from his partner-in-crime. We first picked him up on our radar when this interview came out with him calling Crosby “nothing special”. Now, them’s fighting words. While the rest of the league took offense, we sat back and had a good laugh. The best part? Semin was sharing the top spot in league points with Malkin up until his injury, with 27 points in 16 games. Crosby, meanwhile, still only has 25 points in 20 games. Like Ovechkin, though, his obvious talent isn’t the main draw to us at SHR. We love him because, despite being here for 2 full years (5 if you include up to his first as a Capital) and obviously understanding English, he still insists on doing interviews in Russian using a translator. Or because he’s always laughing at seemingly nothing. Or because he does things like this during games. He’s infectious.

 

Brooks Laich (and Mike Green)
While he might not be as good of a goal scorer as Ovechkin (12 points in 21 games), Laich claims to challenge him in the “ladies man” department. We may not necessarily agree with that, but we will agree that he’s a funny and well-spoken guy. Green is included because he shares the spotlight with Laich in some fun adventures with Caps Cribs. In the end, Laich won out because (okay, not ALL bias aside) he’s from Saskatchewan and so is Brenden Morrow, and he unsurprisingly reminds us a little bit of our beloved captain. 


Jason Arnott
An ex-Star, he proved to be a major pain in the derriere so far this season. Captaining the Nashville Predators, he got two goals and one assist in the only time he’s played us in 08-09. We lost that game 3-1. From our understanding, he was that kind of ache for Stars fans even when he was a Star, his antics making him more trouble than he was worth. Still, he’s earned his spot as captain for his new team, and we were openly alarmed the night he suffered a neck strain on a frightful collision that left him motionless on the ice for over five minutes. Glad he’s alright, and looking forward to despising him again come our match-up in December.
 

Jordan Tootoo
We respectfully dislike Arnott, because he’s got the potential to put us in some statistical pain. We just outright hate Tootoo, because he’s got the potential to put us in some unnecessarily excessive physical pain. His nicknames range from “Tutu” to “Toots” and they all remind us of how he likes to suckerpunch people with his gloves on. We think words like “vile,” “scum,” and “cowardly” describe him best. He’s been accused of biting people, running injured players, diving, faking innocence, and otherwise shaming the sport. We might be holding a grudge, but rightfully so. This man has no and has earned no respect. 
 

Henrik Lundqvist
Twin of Stars forward Joel Lundqvist, Henrik is the goaltender for the New York Rangers. While we may not care much for that team, Lundqvist stands alone as our favored Eastern goalie. He currently sports a .926 sv%, good for seventh best in the league, and a GAA (2.09) that’s good for fifth best. When his team needs a big player, he makes big saves, and when he can’t do that, he doesn’t throw a fit when he gets pulled from the game. He’s a class act with style that should make Sean Avery jealous, but… well, he doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously. 


Martin Brodeur
A good part of why we like Lundqvist is that he’s escaped the kind of snobbery that seems to drip off other Eastern goalies, particularly Brodeur. He could be the best netminder ever to set foot on ice, or the worst, and it wouldn’t matter to us with an attitude like that. When someone in the league does something he doesn’t like (see Avery, arm-waving), he gripes about it until the rules are changed in his favor. And when other goaltenders began exploiting equipment size rules, Brodeur stubbornly insisted on wearing the old, smaller sizes. Good for him, but then he turned around and complained that other goalies had an unfair advantage. Wait, what? His game wasn’t even suffering from this “injustice”, and he still forced another rule change about it. Its amazing that there’s still a goalie trapezoid, all things considered.
 

Patrick Kane (and Jonathon Toews)
Neither of them appear to have hit puberty yet, but they both do their best to carry the Blackhawks on their shoulders in an unfortunate Crosby-like trend. Since when are a pair of 20-year-olds responsible enough to lead a professional hockey team? 
Also like Sidney Crosby, Kane can’t grow a beard. He said here that he wasn’t going to shave, but we saw him in Dallas 10 days later and can attest to the fact that his facial hair was still MIA. When it comes to the ‘Hawks, we’d rather see more of the pranksters, Adam Burish and Patrick Sharp, and less of the pranked. 


Chris Chelios (and the Red Wings)
If schooling the Stars and the Penguins in last year’s playoffs wasn’t enough proof, the Red Wings walked off with the Stanley Cup and the respect of the entire league. Their skill level, style of play, and ability to win has brought us to this conclusion: the Wings are animatronic hockey players. A good example of this is Chris Chelios, who has been functioning in the NHL for longer than players like Crosby or Ovechkin have been alive. We reckon that he’s due for an oil change soon. We’re not sure where Detroit picked up such sophisticated technology (the same place they get their dead octopuses, maybe?), but we’ll bet that they’re powered with Energizer batteries. 


Braydon Coburn
Rolled out of bed, got misdirected by a hurricane, wandered through a prison, and finally made it to the Flyer’s headshot photoshoot. At least, that’s what it looks like. At 6’5” and 220 lbs, we still think Coburn is probably the least-scary giant hockey monster we’ve ever not actually met. We credit this commercial for giving us that opinion, as he brought a surprising amount of natural charisma to make for a very endearing thirty seconds. Hockey commercials are usually funny because of the awful acting. This one was funny for just the opposite. 


Ryan Malone
Joining Coburn in the ranks of people we like because of their hockey commercials is Ryan Malone. To be honest, we don’t care if he DID take more money and fled his hometown to stink it up with the Lightning. He’s got better stats than Steven Stamkos right now, anyway. Besides, after seeing this, we suspect he was sick of being the only person with an outgoing personality on his team. Is it possible that a losing Lightning still beats a winning Penguins when rated on fun and humor? We hope so. 

 

Saku Koivu (and Mikko Koivu
A pair of Finnish hockey brothers, separated by nine years and a thousand miles, the Koivus are as charming as they come. Saku has been with the Canadiens since they drafted him in 1993, while Mikko has been for Minnesota since they drafted him in 2001. With both of them currently captaining their respective teams, it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll ever play on the same side in an NHL match-up. Older brother Saku gets the upperhand for us because of his battle with cancer, and our respect for him having overcome it. 

 

Marc Savard
There were a lot of Bruins competing for this spot, including Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Savard got it because of his antics in the game in which they played the Stars. Once again, bias aside, this was really our first impression of Bruins gameplay, and it left us with a bitter taste in our mouths. We fully understand how grating Avery must have been for him, but that gave Savard no excuse to push him into the fetal position and punch him in the head. We wouldn’t even wish that kind of circus on our rivals, which is why we hope the likes of Savard never becomes part of the Stars. 


Eric Staal (and Jordan and Marc and Jared)
Oh, the Staal brothers. Eric and Jordan already have hat tricks this season, and Marc… has only gotten four points in 24 games this season. That’s alright, though. Jared’s still stuck in the minors. We might not be fans of them as individuals per se, but as a group, they’re definitely fun to watch. Maybe we have a harder time loving them as individuals because it’s so hard to tell them apart when they aren’t wearing the colors of their respective teams. We’re even willing to excuse this little incident, because the mental image of hockey superstars wandering drunk on a highway harassing motorists is kind of funny. 

 

That’s all for our SCiaT: SVotN. Feel free to comment and add on to our conclusions, or remind us of heroes and villains that we may have left off the list.