Posts tagged ‘Nashville Predators’

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

November 2, 2009

Weekend Notes and +/-

by Chelsea

Notes (DAL vs FLA):

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

SHR +/- (DAL vs FLA):

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

Notes (DAL @ NSH):

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

SHR +/- (DAL @ NSH):

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

October 27, 2009

Power Rankings Round Up

by Kristine

Dallas continues to move up the power rankings. Let’s take a look at why…

Actual rank: 9th in league; 6th in West; 3rd in Pacific.
Record: 5-2-4. L10: 5-2-3.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 14 this week; 13 last week. Snubbed by Team Canada at its Olympic orientation camp this past summer, Brad Richards has roared out of the gates with 13 points (3-10) and a plus-5 rating in nine games.“
Of Note: Anaheim at 22 this week; 20 last week. Here’s a deadly combo: 24th in offense and 27th in defense. So far, the balanced scoring we were supposed to see this season hasn’t materialized.”
My thoughts: There are plenty of people on the Stars roster with something to prove this season, and Richards is at the top of that list. Not only was he snubbed by Team Canada, he also has to carry the burden of a loaded contract and the pressure to follow up two less-than-healthy seasons. So far, he’s doing just fine proving the haters wrong. His offense is invaluable to the Stars, and the powerplay noticeably improves with him on the point. We all owe the unbalanced Ducks some thanks – for our win over them, and for Toronto’s win over them. The Leafs got their first win of the season versus them Monday night thanks to a hat trick from Nicklas Hagman, which means they won’t be coming into the AAC tomorrow night hungry for win #1.

The Hockey News
by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 11 this week; 15 last week. Marty Turco starting to hit his stride.
Of Note: Toronto at 30 this week; 30 last week. Maybe return of goalie Jonas Gustavsson can help right ship.
My thoughts: The three power ranking writers rarely agree on many things, but one thing they unanimously have been in agreement on this season is that the Maple Leafs are the league’s worst team. THN published their rankings yesterday, which means they correctly predicted Gustavsson’s return being beneficial to the team (he was in net when they beat the Ducks). With The Monster and his Leafs rolling into town tomorrow night, it’s starting to look like Dallas vs Toronto will be a goalie showdown more than anything. I predict fairly even save percentages, but with the Stars vastly out-shooting the Leafs. If THN is right, and Turco is hitting his stride at the same time our offense is finding its feet, the Stars are on their way to becoming quite the threat in the West.

TSN
Stars: 6 this week; 11 last week. Youth is being served in Dallas, too, as three of their scoring wingers — Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Jamie Benn — are all under 25. Key Injuries: C Mike Modano (ribs), D Matt Niskanen (head).”
Of Note: Buffalo at 1 this week; 6 last week. Starting goaltender Ryan Miller has yet to lose in regulation and his strong play backstops a Sabres team that may not be finishing enough, but is carrying the play, outshooting the opposition by double figures five times already. Key Injuries: None.
My thoughts: No, that is not a typo. TSN – notorious for Canadian team favoritism – has Dallas at 6th and Buffalo at 1st this week. They make a very valid point about the Stars; if it weren’t for our youth (qualifying that as TSN did, with players under 25) scoring, we would be less 17 goals and 27 assists. It’s also interesting to note that every single player under the age of 25 on the Stars roster has recorded at least one assist so far this season. Regardless of our explosion of youth scoring, the other rankers seem a little reluctant to jump on the Dallas bandwagon. TSN seems to be fully on board, which is fun, but a little odd. Last season I was continually frustrated with their lack of faith in the team. It’s nice to see them getting a bit of attention from the Canadian media. As for the Sabres, they’re sitting pretty at 3rd in the East with a 6-1-1 record so far. I chose to feature them for two reasons: they’re a team not named the Penguins who hold the first spot in a ranking, and they were in 6th last week. Can the Stars follow their lead and continue to move up?

In that vein, let’s look at the upcoming schedule. Our next three opponents are Toronto, Florida, and Nashville. If you average out the three power rankings, they are currently at 30th, 28th, and 27th respectively. The Stars are, on average, at 10th right now. On paper, we have the next six points in the bag. However, with Ott suspended until the Nashville game and a few big names already battling injuries, it would be a mistake to go into any of these games over-confident.

In any case, it’s exciting to watch the Stars move up the rankings this season after spending all last season watching them plummet. October is wrapping up, and it’s so nice to say “it’s been 10 games already” instead of “it’s only 10 games…”! Now they just have to keep getting wins and gathering points, and prove to ESPN and The Hockey News why TSN is on their bandwagon.

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 14, 2009

Power Ranking Round-Up

by Chelsea

With the first road trip out of the season out of the way, it’s time to see how the people-in-the-know around the league are feeling about the Stars.

Actual rank: 17th in league; 9th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 1-0-3. L10: 1-0-3.

ESPN by Scott Burnside
Stars: 18 this week; 25 last week. “The Stars are undefeated in regulation and beat up on the Flames and backup Curtis McElhinney. Sophomore James Neal is off to a good start with three goals and an assist.”
Of Note: Toronto at 30 this week; 28 last week. “Easily the worst team in the NHL right now. No goaltending. Can’t kill penalties. Aren’t even that tough. Ouch.”
My thoughts: The bad thing about dropping three points in three shootout losses? …Well, dropping three points in three shootouts. But the good thing about it? Technically, the Stars are undefeated right now. The only other team in the league to be without a regulation loss so far is Buffalo. Of course, losing three times in post-regulation play versus winning three times is a little different. The Stars are going to have to work on a few details of their game if they want to start picking up the full two points. One major detail they can relax a little bit about is the backup situation. Alex Auld carried the team to their one win – and The Monster’s problems in Toronto have us appreciating Auld that much more. He’s already been placed on IR, leaving the Leafs with a struggling Vesa Toskala in net and the second-worst penalty kill in the league (behind only – you guessed it – the Stars).

The Hockey News
by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 19 this week; 18 last week. “Wonder if Fabian Brunnstrom will just fade into oblivion.”
Of Note: Nashville at 18 this week; 16 last week. “Continued production from Patric Hornqvist would help paltry offense.”
My thoughts: As much as it pains me, I think we’re all kind of wondering that about Fabian Brunnstrom. I heard a rumor that spoke of the Stars using him as trade bait for a puck-moving defenseman and in some ways, that makes sense. Send him somewhere else before he gets a reputation as being a free-agent bust; use him while he still has some trade value. He also doesn’t seem to fit into the line-up the way fellow sophomore James Neal or rookie Jamie Benn do. You also have to wonder if he would be farther along in his development if he had been playing somewhere else (like Detroit). Maybe he’s a bust, maybe he’s having trouble adjusting, or maybe the Stars just aren’t the best fit for him. I think he has extraordinary potential, but I’m not sure he can reach it in Dallas. As for Nashville, let’s keep our fingers crossed that their “paltry offense” keeps ticking right along, at least through tonight. They’ve scored six goals in their four games, which averages out to a league-worst 1.5 per game. The Stars are scoring 3.5 times per game on average. If the trends continue, tonight’s game against them ought to have a good outcome.

TSN
Stars: 17 this week; 21 last week. “The Stars are playing strong defensively, giving up just 24.5 shots per game, so they would fare better if G Marty Turco can improve on his .880 save percentage.Key Injuries: C Mike Modano (ribs). “
Of Note: Detroit at 19 this week; 3 last week. “A sluggish enough start to the season is now compounded by the injury to Johan Franzen. For a Wings team that was already dealing with the loss of Marian Hossa in the offseason, they’ll have to find some new sources of offence to make up for the 74 goals that Hossa and Franzen tallied last season. Key Injuries: RW Johan Franzen (knee).”
My thoughts: How ironic, that the Stars are playing strong defensivley in an offensive-minded system when they couldn’t block shots to save their lives in a defensive system. TSN is the only site this week to mention Turco’s struggles. Some people have said it’s only three games, give him a chance to work through it – but really, isn’t it a season and three games now? I thought the off-season was his chance to work through it. I don’t know where the Marty Turco of old has run off to, but he is no longer in Dallas. That being said, much has been made of our absolutely awful PK this season. The Stars are playing great defense on even strength, but as soon as they go a man down, they’re getting scored on. Chels made a BOLD PREDICTION in her game review of the Vancouver game that involves changing up the personnel on the ice during our penalty kills. That may be the solution here. In the meantime, Detroit at 19? Two spots below the Stars? Ouch. They may be missing some offensive stars, but I don’t think that makes them so much weaker of a team that they should be dropped 16 spots this week. Detroit always finds a way to win, and I think it would be a mistake to let your guard down when it comes to this team. They’ve been a powerhouse team for years, and that isn’t going to change now.

So let’s review. Once again, the Stars don’t crack the top 15 on any list. All three sites rank us about the same: TSN at 17, ESPN at 18, and THN at 19. Tonight’s game against Nashville will be a big one. Nobody seems very worried about our offense this season, and for once nobody is worrying about our blueline. The main concerns, in the media and locally, are Turco and our league-worst PK. Big problems, to be sure, but hopefully nothing that some hard work and creative thinking won’t fix.

October 4, 2009

Game Review – 10/03/09 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game Reviews are back! Because games are back! Because the season has started! Finally!

Game:

The Stars opened their season at home against the Nashville Predators and the Opening Night roster held a few surprises, especially for anyone who hadn’t been keeping up with training camp. Two rookies made the final cut: Jamie Benn, playing RW with Morrow and Ribeiro, and Tom Wandell, centering the fourth line with Barch and Brunnstrom. Mark Fistric, expected to finally get his first full year in the NHL, was a healthy scratch for newcomer Jeff Woywitka. Jere Lehtinen (injured) and Brian Sutherby (healthy scratch) did not play either.

Anyone that made it to both the Battle of the Stars and Opening Night might have noticed that the Texas Stars put on a better show when announcing the players, complete with flares and flames. The Dallas Stars just… stuck their Ice Girls on the ice and had them wave their poms around. Woo.

Anyway, eventually the puck dropped and the Predators started playing. The Stars found themselves on the PK and then scored on before two minutes had even passed, at which point it seemed to sink in that the season had started and it was time to play hockey.

Something worth noting: Wandell featured on the first PK unit for most of the night, and looked very good. His unit (with Modano, Robidas, and Skrastins) seemed to push the play to the perimeter and force the Predators into puck battles, while the second/third one (with Ott and Petersen) allowed more plays to develop before managing to break them up.

Though they outshot (14-9) Nashville and were handed a full minute of 5-on-3, the Stars were unable to capitalize and left the first period down 1-0.

Perhaps the most important play of the game for the Stars came about five minutes into the second period, when Sullivan threw the puck past a very floppy Marty Turco to put the Predators up 2-0.

This is important because this was the point last season when the Stars tended to crumble. Turco didn’t look sharp, they had missed out on a few golden opportunities (Ribeiro hit the post only a minute earlier on a chance to tie it), and nothing seemed to be going past Ellis.

Maybe it was having Morrow back, or because it was the first game of the season, or thanks to Crawford’s aggressive system, but Dallas responded admirably to the challenge. With half a game left to play, they dug in and put on the pressure.

Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist got a shot off at 15:46 from 57 feet out. In the following four minutes, the Stars limited the Predators to a single missed shot, while their only two shots were blocked  and never reached Ellis. It was Brunnstrom, flying down the wing, who finally cracked the defense and got a shot on net at 19:48 in the second. The rebound popped out in front of the net to James Neal, who scored in an Orr-like fashion with only 10 seconds left.

The third period started with the Stars racking up takeaways, shots on goal, and hits. Morrow drew a hi-sticking penalty 3:45, and it was during the following power play that the Dallas pressure finally paid off.

Only 15 seconds into the PK, Ellis attempted to clear the puck up the center of the ice. Eriksson, ever attentive, flew through the slot and nearly took it right off his stick. In his hurry to get it out of danger, Ellis flung the puck straight to Neal, who did not hesitate to tie the game.

For the next 8-9 minutes, Ellis made up for his fumble by pulling his team through two more Stars PPs and holding the tie while Dallas pushed for the win. It wasn’t until nearly 13 minutes into the third period that the Predators even got another shot on goal.

As overtime neared, the officiating got a little iffy, handing Richards a slashing penalty (really?) at 19:25 in the third.

The Stars hung on until 1:14 in OT, when it was evened out by a hooking call on Martin Erat.

If the call on Richards wasn’t frustrating enough, the officials really blew it in overtime when they managed to rob Neal of hat trick and the Stars of a win. They mistakenly assumed Ellis had the puck and blew the play dead far too quickly. In reality, the puck was free, and Neal had jumped on it and shoveled it into the net.

OT turned into a shootout. Ellis stood strong while Turco got a little floppy, Crawford put out some questionable shooters (injured Modano and not-so-great-at-shootouts Eriksson over Morrow, Benn, or Ott?), and the Predators skated away with the extra point.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ellis, Arnott, Neal
  • The Stars outshot the Predators 40-26. Brad Richards led the team with 8 SOG.
  • Dallas had an impressive 20 takeaways, compared to Nashville’s 7. The only skaters not credited with at least one were Barch, Neal, Ott, and Richards. Matt Niskanen led the team with 4.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom looked pretty good. He was the only player to end up a +1 and assisted on Neal’s first goal.
  • Surprisingly, Loui Eriksson ended up with no points and the only player to be a -1.
  • Morrow looked a little rusty and Benn looked a little disoriented at times (including one point where he couldn’t find the puck despite it being right at his feet), but overall that line was solid.
  • The Stars struggled on faceoffs, only winning 30 out of 67.
  • Stephane Robidas caught J.P. Dumont with his head down in the first period with a hit that removed him from the game entirely. However, the Tennessean is reporting that he was not seriously injured.
  • Conclusion: We expected the Stars to spend a few games adjusting to Crawford’s new system, breaking old habits and implementing new ones. It really only took them about half a period before they started to click as a team, and overall the effort was really impressive. There were some impressive, well-planned rushes that were a nice change from Tippett’s dump and (try to) chase.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: one for the hit on J.P. Dumont and one for showing so much concern when he realized he was hurt; +2
Matt Niskanen: one each for confidence and competence and one for holding his own on special teams; +3
Trevor Daley: one for utilizing his speed well; +1
Mike Modano: one pity point for getting hurt already; +1
Brenden Morrow: one big happy WELCOME BACK! point; +1
Jamie Benn: one congrats! you’re playing with big kids now! point; +1
James Neal: three for each goal, one for his lost hat trick, and one for reminding us how awesome he is; +8
Loui Eriksson: one for being good in puck battles, one for forcing the Ellis turnover, but minus-one for being the only Stars player to finish a -1; +1
Tom Wandell: one for being great on the PK and one for the SH breakaway with Skrastins; +2
Steve Ott: one for not gooning it up; +1
Alex Auld: one for getting all excited during the shootout; +1
Marty Turco: two for looking considerably better than last season but minus-one for losing it towards the end of the shootout; +1
Karlis Skrastins: one for pleasantly surprising us and one for the SH breakaway with Wandell; +2
Mike Ribeiro: one for scoring in the shootout; +1
Brad Richards: two for the assist, one for leading in shots with 8, and one for having hair; +4
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for being the only player to end with a +1; +3

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.

December 15, 2008

Game Review – 12/13/08 (DAL at NSH)

by Chelsea

Okay, sort of.

Due to Tobias Stephan getting his first start since Halloween, and because writing about getting shut out hurts the brain, we’re going to do a goalie study instead.

The Washington Capitals are having a bit of goalie controversy, what with Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson both pushing for the top spot. Common consensus is that Johnson deserves it, and Caps blog Japer’s Rink had this nifty idea to graph out Johnson’s sv% and GAA.

Tobias Stephan hasn’t even gotten 10 NHL appearances under his belt, so there’s no chance of actual goalie controversy in Dallas, but his fine showing in a sad loss raised his stats above Turco’s. Curious about the consistency of our own netminders, I stole JR’s idea and made my own (much less fancy) graphs.

Marty Turco                                    Tobias Stephan

For someone that is supposedly improving, Turco has had horrible consistency for GA/G, especially in the last handful of games. 1 goal allowed one night and then 4 allowed in the next, twice in a row? Is it a question of the team’s inconsistency rubbing off on Turco’s stats, or the other way around?

Because Turco does have 20 more games than Stephan, I graphed out the Sv% for his first six as well, to compare it more accurately.

Given that half of Stephan’s appearances came in the middle of games, when Turco was pulled, and he was left to hold the fort for a team that always struggles when Turco is playing badly… his graphs look surprisingly consistent in comparison.

For those that maybe aren’t visual learners, some numbers:

Out of Turco’s 26 appearances, only 10 times has he posted a sv% over .900.

Stephan has 3 out of 6 times.

Out of Turco’s remaining 16 appearances, 2 were .800 and 4 were under that.

Stephan has 1 that was .800 and none under.

To rephrase:

Turco posted NHL-caliber numbers 1.66 times for every bad game he had.

Stephan did very well 3 times for every bad game he had.

Is this enough basis to say “toss Turco, start Stephan!”? Not exactly. Is it enough to suggest he’s earned a start more than once a month? Absolutely. Anyone that saw his go-go gadget glove save against the Predators is likely to agree.

Since none of the pictures from the most recent Dallas vs Nashville game are very team-flattering, how about a vintage shot instead? Comes with complimentary cow.

December 12, 2008

Thursday’s NHL Results

by Kristine

For a summary of the wins and losses from Thursday’s games, including team points, continue reading by clicking the link below.

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