Posts tagged ‘New Jersey Devils’

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?

March 21, 2009

NHL Overall Team +/- Examination

by Kristine

The Stars take on the Sharks tonight, but before they do I’d just like to point something out. Everyone knows that +/- doesn’t tell the whole story. However, I think it does tell some of the story. For example, check out what you find when you compare the overall team +/- score for the top five and bottom five teams in the league, with the Stars thrown in the middle…

1. DET   +177
2. SJS   +112
3. BOS   +281
4. NJD   +218
5. WSH   +110

21. DAL   -40

26. PHX    -163
27. COL   -188
28. ATL   -93
29. TBL   -148
30. NYI   -220

Obviously a team’s overall +/- is more related to the success of the team than people may realize.

Last season the Stars ended +85 and 8th in the league. In an even more drastic change, Colorado ended +73 and 10th in the league. First place Detroit ended +235 and last place Tampa ended -148. 21st place went to the Cancucks, who finished the season with a +2. Of course, there are anomonlies, almost entirely on the negative side – the Sharks finished second in the league last season, but with a -3; the Oilers finished with a horrid -156 but managed to pull 19th place overall. However, the basic trend is that the higher in the standings a team is, the better its plus-minus is going to be, and vice versa. So is having a strong team plus-minus the key to regular season success? I don’t claim to know for sure either way, but it’s an interesting stat to take into account.

January 5, 2009

Game Review – 1/03/09 (DAL at EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

So, this being an important two points against a struggling team, Kristine and I went and filled up on junk food so we’d be properly excited for what promised to be a good ol’ fashioned buttwhooping.

I mean, they’ve got some of the worst PK problems in the league. What better way to get a boost on our struggling power play, right?

Sutherby accompanied Richards and Eriksson on the starting line, with Daley and Robidas paired up again as the starting defense. 

The rest of the lines were the same (29-63-37, 18-9-26, 13-17-22), as were the defensive pairings (5-55, 2-27) with Janik and Vishnevskiy both scratched again.

While it made perfect sense for Tobias Stephan to be in net (it was the first game of a back-to-back pair, Turco absolutely fails at playing back-to-back, Turco plays well against the Canucks, and Turco had let in 7 goals to the Oilers the two times he’d faced them already this season), Tippett is determined to ride Turco through his 35-game slump. At what point does it stop being a rideoutable slump, again? 

Seriously. It’s been 35 games almost, and he still has the barely-worse stats than his backup goalie, who is 1-2-0 and has been thrown in three games that were already lost. If you’d like to play the “well, Stephan’s only been in six games!” card, that’s fine, just give me time to find my “Turco’s had over thirty to fix his stats and hasn’t” card. 

Point made? Stephan should have started.

While it was pretty clear that the Stars were not playing to the same caliber that they had during the game against New Jersey, it was also clear that the heart was there. 

The puck dropped, and three minutes later, so did the gloves. 

It was Krys Barch, of course, about to take on two guys (Stortini and Strudwick apparently didn’t want to share, both lining up for a go at him.) Strudwick got his gloves off first, so the two of them had a go. Barch apparently scrapped his “fists up, chin in, hit with the hand holding the jersey” style for something more like “grab with the left, Barch smash! with the right” and it worked out alright. The guys traded solid punches for about a minute before the officials broke it up.

Play had barely continued when Shawn Horcoff got two minutes for hooking at 5:24. It was the first of many power plays spent circling around neutral ice. 

At 8:07, Dustin Penner* challanged Landon Wilson to a fight by smacking him in the face with his glove still on. Wilson attempted to oblige, but before he could, Penner grabbed him by the collar of his jersey and forced him very awkwardly to the ice.

*Penner joins the Club of the Hated now, so he can take a seat between Tootoo and Alfredsson if he can get Sidney Crosby to scoot over.

Wilson looked visible shaken by the “fight” and did not play in the rest of the game, having possibly suffered a head injury in the fall.

 Maybe it was concern for their teammate distracting the Stars or the sudden energy shift in favor of the Oilers, but they managed to crack Turco on only their second shot of the game at 8:41.

All they basically had to do was speed through center ice and fire a fast snap shot. Fast being the only excuse Turco had for not catching it, because he wasn’t exactly screened. The goal was scored by Erik Cole and assisted by Sam Gagner and Lubomir Visnovsky. 

If that wasn’t disheartening enough, the Oilers got one more shot off, and then scored on their next. Yeah, that’s every other shot going in.

This time it was Sheldon Souray, who split the defensemen going into the slot and elevated the puck over Turco when he dropped to block the bottom of the net. It really just seemed like bad judgement all over the ice that created that one.

The goal was at 9:37 and assists went to Horcoff and Liam Reddox. 

Dallas tried to rally back, getting some timely power plays at 10:07, 12:22, and 18:55 when Ladislav Smid went off for roughing, goaltender Dwayne Roloson (served by Smid) got a minor for slashing, and Gilbert Brule got called for interference.

They spent the first two dancing around in the neutral zone and the third was negated by Jere Lehtinen getting two minutes for goalkeeper interference at 19:21.

The period ended 2-0 Oilers, despite the sloppy play that led to a good handful of Edmonton penalties.

The second period started, and it looked for a few minutes like the Stars might rally for a big comeback. 

Unfortunately, at 3:19, Grossman took a penalty for holding that put the Oilers on a power play. Then, a few minutes after his penalty expired, Robidas took his own two minutes for holding (6:50), effectively killing any momentum the team was trying to produce.

At 7:23, Penner picked up the rebound of Souray’s shot from the point and put it in the net behind a sprawling Turco. Horcoff got the second assist.

Now down 3-0, with their goaltender struggling, the Stars pretty much crumbled. Gone were the effective players we’d seen on NYE, replaced with a messy bunch that could barely hold onto the puck when they managed to gain possession. 

James Neal seemed determined to shoulder the team, being the only Star to get any shots on goal in the five minutes following the third Edmonton goal. 

When Penner got a minor for holding the stick, and the Stars only managed to get two shots off in the entire power play, the supposed comeback pulled further out of reach. Finally, as the period wound down, the team picked up the pace.

Neal was rewarded for his determination (as he usually is, because few things can successfully come between James Neal and whatever it is he’s determined to do) with barely two minutes left in the second period.

When Jere Lehtinen fired a shot from the point that found its way through traffic and off Roloson, the loose rebound was quickly retrieved by Neal, who then lobbed it into the net. Andrew Hutchinson was originally credited with the only assist, but it’s since been changed to Lehtinen. 

Just when it looked like all the fun in the second was over, Barch belatedly took Stortini’s offer to have a go with only 16 seconds left in the period.

They threw the gloves off right off the faceoff, with Barch getting a big hit in early that knocked Stortini’s helmet off. The fight continued for a good minute until the officials stepped in, neither player getting an actual win.

Both got five minutes for fighting, plus ten minute misconducts. Still don’t know why they got the extra 10, so if anyone knows, please feel free to explain.

The second ended 3-1 Oilers, with the Stars looking to hold off Edmonton while scoring 2 more goals in the last period of play.

Third period started.

Smid and Sutherby got simultaneous roughings at 2:05.

About five minutes in, Ethan Moreau escaped past Robidas for a breakaway that was pokechecked by a diving Turco. The rebound probably would have gotten pushed into the open net as Turco scrambled to recover, but Trevor Daley was there to clear to safety.  

When the third reached the halfway mark without any proper scoring chances generated by Dallas, and given the tone of the first two periods, it was pretty clear that the game would not be won without a little luck.

Luck was, unfortunately, not on our side.

When Daley took a penalty for holding at 12:38, the Oilers turned up their offense, pressuring Turco with traffic but only getting one clear shot on net. Only six seconds after the penalty expired, Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson set up Andrew Cogliano, who was left completely unattended in front of the net. At 14:44, the game slipped to 4-1, which proved to be too much for the faltering Stars. 

The final five minutes passed uneventfully, and it ended in a pretty painful loss of a valuable two points for the Stars.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Cole, Roloson, Souray
  • Neal’s goal was his 13th of the season, tying him for first among rookies with Boston’s Blake Wheeler.
  • Turco let in 4 goals on 19 shots for a sv% of .789, his worst since the 6-2 loss to San Jose on November 28th.
  • The loss was Richards’ 600th game, which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment; he played 21:15, had no points, and finished -1. 
  • Dallas outshot its opponent for the fifth game in a row, this time by a margin of 39-19.
  • Conclusion: Someone apparently forgot to tell the Stars that they were playing in the first of their two back-to-back games, not the second. They looked lethargic and apathetic for the most part, despite the efforts to build momentum from players like Neal and Barch. 

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for tying for the lead in hits but minus-two for the dumb penalty; -1
Stephane Robidas: minus-two for the dumb penalty; -2
Trevor Daley: minus-two for the dumb penalty; -2
Mike Modano: minus-one for not stepping up when the team needed a leader; -1
Krys Barch: one for each fight and one for not losing either; +3
James Neal: three for the goal, one for determination, and one for playing like the rest of the team should have been; +5
Brian Sutherby: one for tying for the lead in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: one for leading the team in SOG; +1
Landon Wilson: one for the fight and three alarm-points for making us realize how badly we want him to be uninjured; +4
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for not stepping up when the team needed a leader; -1
Brad Richards: minus-one for not stepping up and minus-one for leading in giveaways; -2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for being surprisingly sorely missed on that Ott-Ribeiro line; +1

January 1, 2009

Game Review – 12/31/08 (DAL vs NJD)

by Chelsea

Game:

While the highlight of the night may have been Craig Ludwig grabbing Renner by the face and force-feeding him silly string, we’re still very proud of our Dallas Stars.

They faced the New Jersey Devils, who looked to spoil the Stars’ New Year’s Eve with a repeat of that awful 5-0 domination earlier in the season. This time, however, the team had a sold-out American Airlines Center backing them up, and were looking to end 2008 with a big win.

The game started at 7:30, and initially, it looked like we were the ones who’d just played the night before. The Stars came out a bit flat-footed, struggling to keep up with some surprisingly energetic Devils. 

Zach Parise, the team-leader for New Jersey in goals, assists, points, +/-, PPGs, and SOGs, registered the game’s first shot on goal, testing Turco early.

He was then hit multiple times by Stephane Robidas. A warning, perhaps? 

From there, the both teams shot and hit at each other to no avail. 

At 4:03, Mike Modano was called for tripping, and went to serve his two minutes in the box. The Devils power play, headed by ex-Star and New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner, did more hitting than shooting, and Dallas escaped unscathed. 

Turco had a bit of an accident around seven minutes in, when he went to play the puck but had it poked away by John Madden, who then tried to sweep it in behind him. Fortunately, he hit the side of the net.

Landon Wilson bumped into Bobby Holik at 9:18, and Holik spun around and fell to the ice. While we understand that Wilson is pretty big and can easily knock people over, Holik happens to be an inch taller and ten pounds heavier. It’s possible that he has the worst balance of any hockey player ever, but we’re still not buying what he’s selling.

This incident gave the Devils another power play, as Wilson was called for interference. Langenbrunner got a shot off this time, and was promptly flattened by Robidas.

This and an untimely shift change led to Trevor Daley and Loui Eriksson streaking down the ice towards Jersey goalie Scott Clemmensen. Daley passed the puck between the only two Devils defenders to Eriksson, who fired a wicked wrist shot from the faceoff circle to Clemmensen’s left. The puck was in the net before he could even get his glove up. 

Eriksson’s 19th goal (also known as the team’s first shorthanded tally of the season) came at 10:09 and was assisted by Daley and Brad Richards.

The Devils pushed back, going on the attack at every opportunity, and finally managed to produce some offense as the first period clock wound down.

As the New Jersey announcer was busy wrongly calling Matt Niskanen “Nishkanen”, Brian Gionta moved to screen Turco, keeping him from stopping Mike Mottau’s wrist shot from the top of the slot. The goal, at 17:30, was assisted by Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta.

Soon after the Devils managed to tie the game, they were given a good chance to take the lead by the whistle-happy officials.

This time it was Stephane Robidas, who apparently was tripped/forced to the ice/fell and managed to hook Langenbrunner right before/on the way down/as he sat on the ice looking confused. He was escorted to the box at 18:10.

The Stars were not able to contain the power play this time, as David Clarkson redirected a centering shot past Turco and into the net. 

So we see that while lines have many uses (like organizing crowds and certain types of dances), they don’t work very well for defending in hockey.

The tie was broken at 19:36, and the assists went to Dainius Zubrus and Brian Gionta.

First period ended 2-1 Devils.

Second period started.

A minute in, and the Devils looked like they were coming in from the first with dangerous momentum. Gionta got a shot in on goal and Zubrus picked up the rebound, but Turco made a tremendous save to freeze the puck and hold the game within reach. 

Those would be the only two SOG that the Devils would have for the second period. To emphasize and rephrase, they got two shots on goal in the first minute, and none for the following 19 minutes. The Stars, meanwhile, would produce a hearty 19 for the period.

Barch, Petersen, and Grossman spent the next minute ruthlessly pounding the life out of the Devils, getting five solid hits between them in the 60-second span. 

Then it was Mike Ribeiro’s turn. He started his shift at 4:01, set the pace for it with a hit on Paul Martin, outskated every Devil who came near him, and stayed out when his line changed to center Barch and Wilson on their shift. His unstoppable energy and stick handling set up the Stars to tie the game.

Ribeiro claimed the puck behind the net by shaking off Madden, played a quick passing game with Barch, and then sent a pass between the legs of Bryce Salvador out in front of the net to Wilson. Topping the play off at 5:39, Wilson shoveled the puck past Clemmensen to make it a 2-2 game.

He just about mauled Ribeiro in celebration. Ribeiro responded by mauling Barch. 

It’s a good thing that people don’t celebrate this way outside of hockey, or there’d probably be a lot of violent misunderstandings.

Steve Ott, meanwhile, was spending his shifts skating around running his mouth and squashing people. This started to really get on the Devils’ nerves, which may have something to do with the penalty Holik got at 8:26 for hooking him.

This put the Stars on their first man advantage of the evening.

Now, we were alerted before the game about Mark Parrish and how much he enjoyed scoring against the Devils. In fact, he actually had more career points than any other Star against New Jersey, with 15 goals and 9 assists for 24 points in 37 games. Coupled with the reminder that three of his four goals came on the power play, it seemed almost inevitable that he would score.

He did not disappoint. A hectic assault on the net lead to Richards getting his stick on a shot from Robidas and a scramble for the following rebound. Parrish got there first, sliding the puck between the goalie and the defenseman who was helping play goalie to break the tie at 9:58.

Not really sure why Clemmensen was out of his crease or why Jay Leach was in it, but their mistake worked very nicely for the Stars. Not to mention for Parrish, whose relief at having scored his first goal since November was almost tangible. 

Andy Greene got two minutes for hooking at 10:40, but they killed off that penalty.

At 18:47, the Devils crashed the net again, but more literally this time. Clarkson went flying into Turco, wiping himself, our netminder, and our net out in one clumsy move. Someone scored during the mayhem, but the goal was obviously and immediately disallowed, due to the fact that Clarkson was still laying on Turco and the net was dislodged. 

The consequential goalie interference penalty and the penalty Martin got at 19:37 for blatantly cross checking Neal across the numbers gave the Stars a 5-on-3 to end the second period.

Second period ended. Ric Renner sprayed Ludwig with silly string during intermission, and we all thought Ludy was about to properly strangle him.

Third period started.

Naturally, the entire power play passed with a bunch of swirling the puck around the offensive zone but nobody managing to score. 

Clemmensen came out with some big saves for his team, stopping a string of shots from players like Mike Modano, Brad Richards, and Jere Lehtinen. It was very annoying.

Andrew Hutchinson got a minor for holding at 8:01, but the Stars held on to their small lead, limiting the Devils to only one shot on goal for the entire two minutes.

The third period consisted of 26 shots on goal and 23 hits between the two teams, including a nearly-disastrous breakaway. 

About 17 minutes into the third, a pass through the neutral zone sprung Elias with a perfect opportunity to tie the game. Entering the Dallas zone ahead of lone defenseman Stephane Robidas, he charged in against Turco and tried to score five-hole. The puck slipped between Turco’s knees, but he “squeezed the pads”, hoped for the best, and managed to stop what would have been a morale- and lead-ruining goal.

New Jersey went empty net with 00:53 in a last-ditch attempt to force overtime.

Turco’s save in the following onslaught left the puck loose in the corner, where Richards picked it up and carried it down into center ice. He shot it from there towards the empty net, where it went wide and around to the side. Eriksson showed up ahead of the Devils to grab the puck and toss it into the unguarded net at 19:19.

The goal was his 2nd of the game and 20th of the season, and was assisted by Richards.

The players basically skated in circles for the next forty seconds, and the game ended 4-2 Stars!

Ludwig repayed Renner the favor from earlier by grabbing him with one hand and holding him still while he covered him in silly string. A round of applause for Ludwig and whoever armed him with his own can of silly string. 

(photos by Matt Slocum)

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: Richards, Clemmensen, Eriksson
  • The game was Trevor Daley’s 300th career game.
  • It was the first time the Stars won their annual NYE game since 2002.
  • Marty Turco made 25 saves on 27 shots for a sv% of .926
  • Both teams scored on 1 of 4 power plays.
  • Conclusion: The big names (Richards, Turco, Ribeiro) acted like the big names, the young stars (Eriksson, Niskanen, Grossman, Neal) played like the young stars, and the hard workers (Parrish, Wilson, Barch, Ott) were rewarded for their hard work. It was the kind of win that a team can build a run on.

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: one for being a physical powerhouse; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one for leading in SOG, but minus-one for the penalty that the Devils scored on; +2
Matt Niskanen: one for a pretty solid defensive game; +1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for utilizing his speed; +3
Krys Barch: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: one for a solid game; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal, one for style, and one for reaching 20 goals; +8
Landon Wilson: three for the goal and one for the following celebration; +4
Jere Lehtinen: one for leading in takeaways; +1
Steve Ott: one for leading in hits again and two for being an awesome agitator; +3
Marty Turco: two for the big saves and one for the game-saving breakaway save; +3
Mark Parrish: three for the goal and one for determination; +4
Darryl Sydor: one for leading in blocked shots; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for the otherwise good game; +3
Brad Richards: two for each assist and one for setting up Loui for his 20th goal; +7 

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.

October 26, 2008

Super Saturday Results

by Kristine

New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers: 3-1 Flyers in OT
Flyers: 7 points (2-3-3) | Devils: 11 points (5-2-1)

Atlanta Thrashers at Boston Bruins: 5-4 Bruins
Bruins: 9 points (3-2-3) | Thrashers: 6 points (2-3-2)

Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs: 3-2 Leafs
Leafs: 9 points (3-2-3) | Sens: 4 points (2-4-1)

Anaheim Ducks at Montreal Canadiens: 6-4 Ducks
Ducks: 8 points (4-5-0) | Canadiens: 11 points (5-0-1)

Carolina Hurricanes at NY Islanders: 4-3 Hurricanes
Canes: 9 points (4-2-1) | Islanders: 4 points (2-4-0)

Pittsburgh Penguins at NY Rangers: 3-2 Rangers in a shootout
Rangers: 17 points (8-2-1) | Penguins: 12 points (5-2-2)

San Jose Sharks at Tampa Bay Lightning: 3-0 Sharks
Sharks: 14 points (7-2-0) | Lightning: 5 points (1-2-3)

LA Kings at Nashville Predators: 5-4 Predators
Preds: 8 points (4-4-0) | Kings: 6 points (3-3-0)

Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild: 2-1 Wild
Wild: 11 points (5-0-1) | Blue Jackets: 6 points (3-4-0)

Washington Capitals at Dallas Stars: 6-5 Caps in OT
Stars: 8 points (3-4-2) | Caps: 9 points (4-3-1)

Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks: 6-5 Wings in a shootout
Red Wings: 13 points (6-1-1) | Hawks: 9 points (3-2-3)

Florida Panthers at St Louis Blues: 4-0 Blues
Blues: 10 points (5-2-0) | Panthers: 8 points (4-3-0)

Buffalo Sabres at Colorado Avalanche: 2-1 Avalanche in a shootout
Avalanche: 10 points (5-3-0) | Sabres: 14 points (6-0-2)

Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks: 6-3 Canucks
Canucks: 8 points (4-4-0) | Oilers: 8 points (4-2-0)

Calgary Flames at Phoenix Coyotes: 4-1 Flames
Flames: 9 points (4-3-1) | Coyotes: 6 points (3-3-0)

Super Saturday killed my DVR. Literally – not only did it not record any of the games because it got overwhelmed, it also deleted everything I had not protected. So. There’s that. There’s also the facts that Stars are back to sloppy hockey (boo) and that Chels and I met Jen from the Shootout at the game tonight (yay!!). Chels is working on the game review right now, and tomorrow we’re headed to Frisco to watch the Stars hopefully get their act together in practice. Catch you later, loyal fans…

October 24, 2008

Tonight’s NHL Wins/Losses

by Kristine

New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets: 3-1 Rangers
Rangers: 15 points (7-2-1) | Blue Jackets: 6 points (3-4-0)

Anaheim Ducks vs Ottawa Senators: 4-3 Ducks
Ducks: 6 points (3-5-0) | Sens: 4 points (2-4-1)

Philadephia Flyers at New Jersey Devils: 6-3 Flyers (Beautiful that the Flyers’ first W of the season means a L for the Devils and a considerable hit on Martin “Fatso” Brodeur’s stats.)
Flyers: 5 points (1-3-3) | Devils: 10 points (5-2-0)

Atlanta Thrashers at Detroit Red Wings: 5-3 Red Wings
Red Wings: 11 points (5-1-1) | Thrashers: 6 points (2-3-2)

San Jose Sharks at Florida Panthers: 4-3 Panthers
Panthers: 8 points (4-3-0) | Sharks: 12 points (6-2-0)

LA Kings at St Louis Blues: 4-0 Kings
Kings: 6 points (3-3-0) | Blues: 8 points (4-2-0)

October 24, 2008

Stars Media Update

by Chelsea

For those of you that do not check for new media constantly:

On StarsVision:
Three new videos in “The Locker Room” – Les Jackson on NHL Live, Stick With Reading Rally, Mike Ribeiro [highlight reel].
One new video in “Bob Sturm TV” – Bob Sturm in the press box.

On NHL.com, Mike Ribeiro is currently the Scotiabank number one star, making him 15th of the season. Fabian Brunnstrom is 5th of the season.

According the the NHL.com poll, almost 30% of hockey fans plan to watch every single game tomorrow. That’s a lot of people with a lot of TVs.

Some pictures from the game against the Islanders:

How he got up there is what I want to know. Or better yet, why?

How he got up there is what I want to know. Or better yet, why?

Islanders fans, lack thereof.

Minnie and Ribbons. Also shown: Islanders fans, lack thereof.

Head on over to Andrew’s Star Page for the newest Morrow-BaD segment. +2 off ice points for his honesty about Avery.

The Sign Girls have pictures of all their (old and new) signs up, with descriptions.  I love… pretty much all of them. 😉

A good laugh: Flyers just whipped the Devils in a 6-3 win for Philly. Go Flyers!

Tomorrow: Stars vs Caps!
Tonight: Expect an NHL standings update from Kristine.

October 23, 2008

Game Review – 10/22/08 (DAL at NJD)

by Chelsea

Game:

Nobody wants to read a six-page saga about how the Dallas Stars got royally stomped for the fourth time this season. We’re 2-4-1. We let in over 4 goals a game on average. We’ll give you two goals for every ten shots you get on us, folks.

Note that this is not hitting the panic button. This is all just the facts. We could still leave the first ten games at 5-4-1, best case scenario, and that wouldn’t be too bad.

So, since nobody needs a play-by-play on how we sailed right into a 5-0 loss, the quick version:

  1. Stars in New Jersey for the second of three road trip games, against the Devils.
  2. 1:59 into the first, ex-Star and Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner scores on Marty Turco. Assists to Zach Parise and Travis Zajac.
  3. We all go “ooh, that happened Monday, we’ll be fine!”
  4. Despite less-than-stellar defense, Turco holds us at 1-0.
  5. Second period, at 9:05, John Madden gets a way-too easy shot in past Turco. Assists to Paul Martin and Jay Pandolfo.
  6. A minute later at 10:17, Madden scores again on Turco. Assists to Bryce Salvador and Brian Gionta.
  7. Turco gets pulled. Goes to the bench and looks like someone that needs a tub of ice cream and some time in the corner to talk himself through this.
  8. Tobias Stephan is put in and finishes the second with some great saves on some nasty shots and rebounds.
  9. Third period and we’re all like “oh this sucks, what is our defense doing besides standing there looking sad?”
  10. At 9:49 in the second, Zach Parise scores on Stephan. Assists to Andy Greene and Travis Zajac.
  11. At 10:42, Stephan gets partially screened and David Clarkson scores. Assists to Andy Greene and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.
  12. We try kinda hard and get some good chances, but the Devils had good defense and the puck rarely reached Martin Brodeur, who claimed a shutout that I do not feel he particularly earned.
  13. Stars leave feeling incredibly bad, Tippett gripes about the goaltending, Modano feels slow, Turco is embarrassed, and Morrow wants to help Turco out by having better defense.
Notes:
  • Instead of the usual notes, I’m going to flood you with opinions because I miss watching Stars games. These players are not our Stars, and I want them to return our Stars to us. I explain.
  • I think they’re just trying too hard. I think the Stars came into this season with too high of expectations on them, and they’re all trying to be everything to meet these expectations. Let’s not forget that we earned our spot on the near-top by each player working hard at whatever they’re best at. If we can get that through our struggling Stars’ heads, I bet we’ll be fine.
  • Also, it won’t hurt to get Lehtinen back in the lineup, which should be soon.
  • Another also: Martin Brodeur is overrated. If I had a hate-list, he would be sitting comfortably at the top, right next to Jordin Tootoo.
  • Conclusion: The Stars sucked as a team, but not necessarily as individuals. Tomorrow night’s game against the Islanders will show us one thing for sure – when at rock-bottom, do the Stars rally and win or play frantic and sloppy?
Official SHR +/-:
Stephane Robidas: two for leading in hits with six; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for being the only d-man that stood out as not playing badly; +2
Trevor Daley: minus-two for letting the Devils score on an undefended Stephan despite being right beside said Devil; -2
Brenden Morrow: one for acting like a d-man and blocking a few shots; +1
Krys Barch: one for looking silly and scary all at once in a confrontation with some Devils; +1
Sean Avery: two for the opportunity and shot on goal he earned, one for handling the confrontations from the Devils well, and minus-two for otherwise being too timid to do anything but make a lot of noise; +1
Toby Petersen: two for the diving save that kept away a nasty rebound; +2
James Neal: one for being there even when the rebound wasn’t; +1
Loui Eriksson: one for having two takeaways; +1
Jere Lehtinen: we need you! come back, please; +1
Mark Fistric: minus-two for thinking that standing around the general area of the goalie keeps pucks from going in and minus-one for each giveaway; -4
Tobias Stephan: minus-one for the goal he maybe could have stopped, minus-one for not protecting all his rebounds, and three for the ten much-needed saves he did make; +1
Marty Turco: minus-three for the poor goaltending and two for the saves he made; -1
Philippe Boucher: two for honestly trying; +2
BJ Crombeen: one for having one of the best almost-goals in the game, two for the fight, minus-one for the fight being stupid; +2
Sergei Zubov: we need you too! +1
Mike Ribeiro: one for playing better than we’d seen him play this season, one for the nice breakaway, and one for dominating faceoffs at 73%; +3
October 22, 2008

Quick Pre-Game Post

by Chelsea

So tonight’s game is a big match-up. We’ve got Avery against Brodeur, for one, but the biggest point to be made here is that we haven’t beat the Devils in Jersey since 2000. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we can keep up the momentum we gained in Monday’s game and get another win. Either way, Chelsea will be doing a game review tonight or first thing tomorrow.

Also, on a more personal note…

Dear Ric Renner,
Your hair is awful. It could use a cut and color.
Sincerely,
the SHR Girls