Posts tagged ‘Phoenix Coyotes’

November 11, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

The big word in the power rankings this week is “goals.” Let’s see why…

Actual rank: 12th in league; 8th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 7-4-6. L10: 4-3-3.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 13 this week; 13 last week. “Marc Crawford’s group is producing goals: 3.18 per game, eighth in the NHL.
Of Note: Montreal at 19 this week; 18 last week. “Win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, lose one. …
My thoughts: The Stars can score… Or can they? They started off the season scoring at least four goals in almost every game, but have scored only two goals in each of their last four games. They’re not quite at the “win one, lose one, win one, lose one” pace the Habs are at (and the Stars were at most of last season), but they will be if they don’t rediscover their offensive prowess. With their next three games on the road – two of which are against Pacific teams – they need to really get their legs moving and hope that more pucks start finding the back of the net.

TSN
Stars:
14 this week; 11 last week. “Goals are suddenly at a premium in Big D, as they’ve managed eight in the last four games, after scoring 21 in the previous five. Key Injuries: LW James Neal (groin).
Of Note: San Jose at 1 this week; 1 last week. “Eight straight games without a regulation loss, the Sharks get to keep top spot for another week and the forecast gets even better now that Joe Pavelski has returned to anchor the second line. Key Injuries: D Rob Blake (shoulder), RW Devin Setoguchi (leg).
My thoughts: See? Even TSN has noticed that our goal scoring has dropped considerably lately. The Sharks are not afraid to get the puck on net, averaging 31.5 SOG/game. However, they’re also allowing 29.3 SOG/game. Maybe the biggest key for this game will be just to get the puck to the net and see what happens. The Stars do love breaking win streaks (remember the first Calgary game this season?) almost as much as they love being the underdogs.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 19 this time; 11 last time. “Brad Richards has recorded a point in every game he’s played except two this season.
Of Note: Detroit at 15 this time; 21 last time. “Speaking of banged up teams, Red Wings lose another body as Jason Williams sustains broken leg.
My thoughts: I love when we lose eight places but the comment is something positive. On the opposite side, the Wings jumped up six places but the comment is about an injury. What gives, THN? I think what they mean is “Brad Richards is recording points, but the Stars are not.” I honestly don’t have much to say about dropping so far down except that it doesn’t surprise me. One handful of less-than-stellar games and plenty of people go back to discrediting the Stars. I think they’d be sitting on top the division and people would still be waiting for them to fall.

I guess overall I’m a little frustrated. The Stars are having trouble finiding consistency, which makes it easy to forget that they’re still at a .588 point percentage for the season. Regardless, I get discouraged when I see them losing to teams they should be able to easily beat (ahem, Minnesota), and it seems like the power rankers feel the same way. They moved down 3 at TSN, 8 at THN, and somehow stayed the same at ESPN. They’re also ranked highest at ESPN (13th), and lowest at THN (19th). They play the Sharks and Coyotes before the next rankings come out, which could mean a big jump (if they beat at least one of them) or a big fall (if they lose to both). My bold prediction: They manage a win against the Sharks, but turn around and trip over Tippett’s Yotes.

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November 3, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

After a somewhat dismal group of games to close out October, let’s see what the media is saying about the Stars this week.

Actual rank: 10th in league; 6th in West; 4th in Pacific.
Record: 6-3-5. L10: 5-3-2.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 13 this week; 14 last week. Backup netminder (at least in theory) Alex Auld drew back-to-back starts in losses to Florida and Nashville as the Stars continue underwhelming (2-2-2) play at home.”
Of Note: Phoenix at 6 this week; 16 last week. The Coyotes continue to prove they are for real with three straight wins, and Ilya Bryzgalov continues to shine in goal. (He’s allowed just 25 goals in 13 games.)”
My thoughts: Underwhelming is one way to put it. You could also substitute “pathetic” or “uninspired” and be okay. For a team that had a 16-19-6 road record last season, the Stars are winning road games they should not be winning – and losing home games they should not be losing. This season’s 4-1-3 road record is definitely better than 2-2-2 at home, but the L5 of 2-1-2 isn’t stellar. No matter where they play, the Stars need to pick it up. Having a goalie with a breakout season like Bryzgalov would go a long way towards that, but so would some solid defense and consistent special teams. Sound familiar?

TSN
Stars:
6 this week; 11 last week. With four points in the last four games, Fabian Brunnstrom is starting to contribute offensively, giving the Stars all kinds of depth up front. Now, they just need Marty Turco to get over his illness, because he’s been much better than Alex Auld so far this season. Key Injuries: G Marty Turco (flu).”
Of Note: Boston at 20 this week; 20 last week. Not the Bruins handle the man advantage much better, going 2-for-36 (5.6%) over the last 11 games, a trend that might prompt a change in power play personnel, like getting Dennis Wideman back on the first unit in place of Derek Morris, for example. Key Injuries: C Marc Savard (foot), LW Milan Lucic (finger).
My thoughts: Finally, Fabian Brunnstrom gets some credit. Everyone is so busy talking about Holy Cow Jamie Benn that they’re overlooking the fact that Bunny has quietly accumulated six assists and a goal so far. It’s also nice to hear that our starting goalie has been better than our backup goalie this season, considering that’s kind of how it should be. Turco’s been a bit shaky at times, giving up goals at critical times, but his overall game is much better than it was last season. So far he’s got a .917 sv%. More importantly, he’s sitting with a 2.26 GAA in front of a team that’s scoring 3.43 goals per game on average. That’s behind only Calgary, Washington, and Philly, in case you were wondering. It helps that, unlike the mighty Bruins, the Stars are occassionally managing to score on their PPs. With Brad Richards back and healthy, our middle-of-the-league power play should improve. As long as that happens, and Turco keeps up the good work, the Stars should also continue to improve.

Yahoo by Ross McKeon
Stars: 16 this time; 17 last time. “Marty Turco is off to a better start this season than last. You don’t think it has anything to do with it being a contract year, do ya?”
Of Note: Colorado at 2 this time; 30 last time. “Best story of the early season, bar none. Craig Anderson is emerging as a star in goal. And if you haven’t gotten a glimpse of teen-aged rookies Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene you really are missing something.”
My thoughts: Another ranking, another talk of our goaltending. Turco needs to have a big year, but more than that, the Stars need Turco to have a big year. Of course, Turco being off to a better start this year than last doesn’t say much, considering he started last year with 29 goals against in his first eight games. At least this year, he has a viable backup in Alex Auld (who I still believe in despite his rocky back-to-back starts last week). Meanwhile, Colorado has in Craig Anderson what we wish we could have in Turco, as Anderson has been leading the surprise charge to first place in the West for the Avs.

Overall, despite a less than stellar handful of games to close out the start of the season, the media seems to be remaining pretty optomistic about the Stars. It has been an encouraging first month. They have points in 11 of their first 14 – points that could be very valuable when the playoff crunch rolls around. For November, I’m hoping they start picking up those points in regulation instead of giving away points in a good third of the games they play. As much as the points we’ve gained in OT losses could help us in the final crunch, the points we’ve given to other teams could hurt us. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

At time of publication, The Hockey News had yet to update their power rankings for the week.

October 6, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Hockey games that mean something are finally back, and that means so are power rankings that mean basically nothing. I’ll be updating every Tuesday with a look at what the experts think of the Stars, as well as other teams around the league. Let’s see where we rank as the season kicks off…

Actual rank: 19th in league; 9th in West; 3rd in Pacific.
Record: 0-0-1. L10: 0-0-1.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun
Stars: 25 this week; 26 last week. “The blue line is a concern, but there’s not a lot of money to spend.
Of Note: St Louis at 4 this week; 12 last week. “Can’t wait for that season opener at the Scottrade Center. Just hope the roof doesn’t collapse from all the noise. A great market finally gets a team worth cheering for. Talk about a statement with two season-opening wins in Stockholm over the mighty Red Wings.
My thoughts: If even ESPN is worried about it, you know there’s some cause for concern. A Cup contender needs to have at least one of two things: a strong blueline, or an elite goalie. At this point, we definitely don’t have one and we’re twiddling our thumbs while we wait to see if we have the other. Our young guns on the line are constantly improving, but mistakes happen. When they do, Turco needs to be there as our final defense – and he wasn’t last season. As for the Blues, they have the honor of being the biggest jump this week – from 12th to 4th. They’ve got some very talented offensive players rising through their ranks in TJ Oshie and Patrik Berglund, and they added former Star Darryl Sydor to their blueline. Syd joins fellow former Stars BJ Crombeen and Brad Winchester, who give the Blues some grit. They’re definitely a team to be aware of this season. Finally, it’s interesting to note that this is week 2 of ESPN’s power rankings for this season, and they started the Stars at 26th. Wonder where we’ll be ranked this time next month?

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 18 this week; n/a last week. “Wonder what James Neal’s high-end output is; 35 goals, maybe?
Of Note: L.A. Kings at 27 this week; n/a last week. “Super sophomore Drew Doughty scores two points, but is a minus-2 in opening 6-3 loss to Coyotes.”
My thoughts: It’s Neal vs Doughty in the Pacific Division Battle Of The Sophomores, and James Neal is winning. His two goals and even plus/minus bests Doughty’s goal, assist, and -2 plus/minus. On Saturday, Neal reminded us why we loved him as a rookie: he missed an easy open net, banged a few bodies into the boards, and nailed an impossible shot that went straight to the back of the net. Twice. We saw the same thing last season. He gets frustrated and uses it as motivation. With that kind of attitude, 35 goals does seem like a reasonable thing to aim for (pun barely intended). As for Doughty and the Kings, here’s hoping they’re not quite the Cup contender the buzz made them out to be during pre-season.

Yahoo by Ross McKeon
Stars: 17 this week; n/a  last week. “Firing Dave Tippett was a big mistake. Dallas’ loss is Phoenix’s gain. And wouldn’t the Stars be shocked to have the Coyotes finish ahead of them? Just might happen. Either way, Dallas isn’t going to make the top eight in the West for the second straight year. And it’ll be Marty Turco’s last season in Big D.
Of Note: Phoenix at 20 this week; n/a last week. “Watch out here. Everyone thinks the disaster off the ice will make the Coyotes an easy mark. Not so. Dave Tippett is a solid coach who knows the Pacific Division very well. Phoenix is going to surprise even if they don’t finish in the top eight.
My thoughts: Yahoo is new to my round-ups this season. I both agree and disagree with them on their assessment of the Stars. I do think this may well be Turco’s last year – unless he is a maker of miracles and plays Vezina-level hockey all season – but I’m optimistic enough to believe we’ll finish in the top eight. And the reason I believe that is because I think firing Tippett was exactly the right move. It’s hard to judge with just one regular season game under our belts, but so far the Stars seem motivated and cohesive under Crawford. They’re working harder than they have in years, and I think it’ll pay off. As for Phoenix, maybe Tippett is their gain, but Tippett needs to take a more open approach to developing his youth than he ever did in Dallas. Phoenix is a young team, and Tipp prefers to coach older, more experienced players. It remains to be seen if that will be a problem there like it was here. Either way, Phoenix vs Dallas might become a bigger rivalry now than it has been in the past.

So let’s see here. Yahoo has us highest, at 17th. THN has us at 18th, and ESPN has us at a lowly 25th. Clearly, the expectations going into this season are low, at least from the media. I can’t say I’m too torn up about this; the Stars love being the underdogs, and this gives them a chance to blow some socks off. And if they come out of the gate flailing instead of swinging, nobody will be disappointed. Really, it’s a win-win (but fingers crossed for swinging).

At time of publication, Andrew’s and TSN had yet to update their power rankings. I’ll update this post with them as they come out.

April 11, 2009

SHR +/- “OMG Are We Really That Far Behind?” Catch-up

by Chelsea

When the Stars were pretty much eliminated (and then officially eliminated), we kinda went “so what’s the plan for the blog in the postseason, then?” and basically fell asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, we’ve also sorely neglected our duties (like the +/-) for the end of the regular season.

On that note, here are the +/-s for the large handful of games we were missing.


3/24/09 – DAL vs VAN:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: one for sticking up for Turco; +1
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal; +3
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: two for having a ridiculous 7 takeaways and 0 giveaways; +2
Mark Fistric: two for the assist but minus-one for his exceptionaly careless penalty; +1
Steve Ott: minus-two for acting like a thug instead of helping his team; -2
Marty Turco: minus-two for not helping his teammates out and making only 17 saves on 21 shots; -2
Steve Begin: two for the assist; +2


3/26/09 – DAL vs LAK:

Stephane Robidas: one for playing 27:01 to pick up Daley’s slack when he went out; +1
Trevor Daley: one 😦 point for getting injured; +1
Krys Barch: one for standing up for Daley and one 😦 point for getting hurt in the process; +2
Landon Wilson: two for getting nine really solid hits; +2
Jere Lehtinen: one for the shootout goal; +1
Mark Fistric: two for a really solid game; +2
Marty Turco: three for pitching a shutout and earning the team a point, but minus-one for an iffy shootout performance that lost them the other point; +2


3/28/09 – DAL vs FLA

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: 😦 ; +1
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal; +3
Brendan Morrison: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and two for not having any giveaways for the sixth game in a row; +4
Chris Conner: three for the goal; +3
Mark Fistric: 😦 ; +1
Steve Ott: two for the assist but minus-two for continuing to act like a thug; +0
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for the assist, but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +4


3/30/09 – DAL at PHX:

Dan Jancevski: one welcometoDallas! point; +1
Matt Niskanen: two for each assist; +4
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Andrew Hutchinson: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Garrett Stafford: two for each assist and one welcometoDallas! point; +5
Darryl Sydor: three for the goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +5


3/31/09 – DAL at LAK:

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Brendan Morrison: three for each goal; +6
James Neal: minus-one for being overrated; -1
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchinson: one for the solid game; +1
Steve Ott: two for each assist; +4
Marty Turco: one for playing decently; +1
Steve Begin: one for getting six hits; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, one for style, but minus-one for STILL stinking at faceoffs; +3


4/02/09 – DAL at CGY:

Matt Niskanen: one for learning how to get more than one (probably accidental) hit in a game and one for leading the team in shots on goal; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for a decent showing; +1
Joel Lundqvist: two for the assist: +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for scoring the team’s only goal and one for style; +4


4/04/09 – DAL vs STL

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: three for the goal and one for saving the game in the third period; +4
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal; +6
Tom Wandell: two for each assist; +4
Chris Conner: minus-one for being the only one with a -2; -1
Steve Ott: three for the goal and one for not being thug-Ott anymore; +4
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and one for being an impressive +4; +3
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2


4/07/09 – DAL at MIN:

Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Ivan Vishnevskiy: one welcometoDallas! point; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist but minus-one for really really stinking at faceoffs; +1
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


4/09/09 – DAL at COL:

Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Tom Wandell: one for improving at faceoffs; +1
Mark Fistric: two for the assist; +2
Mark Parrish: three for the goal; +3
Ivan Vishnevskiy: two for the assist and one for having a wicked shot from the point; +3
Mike Ribeiro: one for that shootout goal and one for style; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


4/10/09 – DAL at ANA:

Last-game-of-the-season special edition.

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading in hits and two for having stepped up big-time as a physical stay-at-home defenseman; +3
Stephane Robidas: one 😦 point for having not gotten to play the last few games of the season, two for carrying the entire defense on his shoulders all year, and one for escaping this season with his nose intact; +4
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for finally showing that he can play without his training wheels (Sydor); +3
Trevor Daley: one 😦 point for having not gotten to play the last few games of the season and one for stepping into the #2 role nicely; +2
Mike Modano: two for his age-defying efforts at the beginning of the season and one don’t-end-your-career-this-way-please point; +3
Brenden Morrow: five points for how ridiculously sorry we are that the Stars didn’t push their season far enough to allow Morrow to come back and play; +5
Brendan Morrison: one thankyou point for stepping up and scoring PPGs when nobody else could; +1
Krys Barch: one 😦 point for missing the last games of the season and two for being the trustworthy (and frightful) Stars cop; +3
Sean Avery: one thankyou point for finding somewhere really far from Dallas and staying there, but minus-six for sticking us with half of that bloated contract and getting what he wanted in the end anyway; -5
Toby Petersen: one 😦 point for having missed the last few games of the season; +1
James Neal: minus-one point for the mixture of severe tunnel-vision (“puckpuckpuckpuckpuck”) and ego (“RAHHH I’M JAMES NEAL”) that lead to him being less-than-effective as the season went on but two determination points for having still tried; +1
Brian Sutherby: two points for coming onto the team from a rival, being willing to work hard, and making a place for himself; +2
Loui Eriksson: one for ending the season on a thirteen-game streak of not having a single giveaway, two for leading the team in goals and for being the 3o-goal-scorer we needed when Morrow went out, one for leading the team in +/-, and one for escaping injury and not missing a single game all season; +5
Landon Wilson: two for being dependable, stepping up as someone who gave 100% when the rest of the team looked mentally exhausted, and putting up with getting scratched way too often; +2
Tom Wandell: one for being a Swedish rockstar; +1
Chris Conner: one for constantly creating chances with his surprising speed; +1
Jere Lehtinen: one for leading the team with 8 shots on goal, one for being the Legendary Leaping Lehtinen, and two please-please-please-take-a-hometown-discount-because-we’d-cry-if-the-Stars-let-you-go points; +4
Andrew Hutchinson: two thankyou points for going from healthy scratch to dependable veteran when Robidas and Daley went out, and doing it admirably; +2
Mark Fistric: one for coming back up from the AHL as the hard-hitting defenseman we all remembered from last year’s playoffs and one for not backing his butt up into Turco’s face as a “defensive maneuver” anymore; +2
Steve Ott: three for each goal, two for the assist, one for the highly-entertaining clip of him sitting on the bench making faces at the Ducks through the plexiglass, and two for growing into a better player and leader; +11
Tobias Stephan: two 😦 points for ending up as the #3 goalie and not getting a decent chance to prove himself because Tippett is stubborn and used Stephan’s career to make a point which is dumb and we could rant about it all day but won’t, two hopeful points for moving on from the Stars after this season, and one sad goodbye point; +5
Marty Turco: minus-one for apparently going from a good shootout goalie to a super-impatient flop-across-the-crease one, minus-two for being Mr. Inconsistent all season, but one for taking responsibility for it, two for his strong play in the middle of the season, and one for showing enough flashes of awesome that we’re reminded there’s still an All-Star under there somewhere; +1
Mark Parrish: two for seeming to have an unbeatable optimistic attitude and two because we have a feeling he won’t be around next season and would be very very sad to see him go; +4
Joel Lundqvist: one 😦 point for having not really come back from his shoulder injury as the Lundqvist we remembered from last season and two because we’re worried Sutherby stole his spot and we’d be very sad to see him go; +3
Phillipe Boucher: two because he is awesome even if he has to play for the Penguins; +2
BJ Crombeen: yaayyyy at least one of our rookies gets a chance at the Cup this season; +2
Steve Begin: two points for sacrificing himself on the PK every night and being a very solid player for the Stars; +2
Darryl Sydor: one 😦 point because he missed the last period of the season, another because his future with the Stars is so uncertain, and one for being Niskanen and then Vishnevskiy’s training wheels; +3
Sergei Zubov: three pleeeeasseee-take-a-hometown-discount-and-come-back-next-season-our-PP-needs-you-so-bad points; +3
Ivan Vishnevskiy: two for the assist and one for looking a little bit like a baby Zubov out there; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist, minus-one for the dumb penalties, one for leading the team in points and matching his assists from last year, and one for (thankfully!!) not missing a single game all season; +5
Brad Richards: one 😦 point for the tragic comedy that is his injury situation, one for being an important player when he was playing, and one for proving us wrong about his importance by showing us what happens to the team when he’s not there; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for ending the season by playing impressive hockey and showing everyone a preview of what they can look forward to next season; +6

March 30, 2009

Tobias Stephan In Net Tonight

by Kristine

Mike Heika is reporting that Tobias Stephan will be getting the start tonight. The game is airing nationally on Versus, which – let’s face it – is a little bit scary. It’s a chance for Stephan to prove himself, and for the Stars to stop their slide. However, everyone knows that the Yotes have had our number this season. If the Stars win, it will be huge.

Heika’s report on Stephan, the defensive pairings, and the line combos for tonight’s game can be found here.

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.

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.

February 12, 2009

Game Review 2/11/09 – (DAL vs PHX)

by Chelsea

When All Else Fails, Juggle Lines:

 
“Dude. What’re you doing?”
“I’m taking a faceoff.”
“Seriously?”
“Coach told me I’m centering this line.”
“You’re joking. Tipp?”
“You’ll be on his left wing, and I’m trying Turco out on his right.”
Turco “But I haven’t played anything other than goalie in over twenty years.”
“Yeah, but over 50% of players surveyed thought you’d be the goaltender best suited to play forward-“
Turco “Alright, alright, I get it. Let me take this goalie gear off?”
Tippett “No time! Just trade sticks with Petersen there so he can get in net.”
Petersen  
“So in Swedish it’s..?”
Idiotiskt.
“Right… idiotiskt. This is idiotiskt.”
“Ja.”

 

SHR +/-:

Matt Niskanen: one for trying to clean up Sydor’s mess; +1
Mike Modano: minus-one for having 4 GV, minus-two for being completely unable to finish on some prime scoring chances, but one for trying anyway; -2
Krys Barch: one for the fight, two for dominating it, and one for good timing in picking it; +4
Brian Sutherby: one for the.. scuffle, minus-one for losing it, and minus-one for the dumb penalty; -1
Steve Ott: one for delivering 6 hits; +1
Marty Turco: two for solid effort; +2
Joel Lundqvist: one for delivering 6 hits; +1
Darryl Sydor: minus-one for prodding delicately at the Coyote with the puck instead of trying to take the man or said puck, and minus-two for the goal that was scored immediately after; -3
Mike Ribeiro: one for delivering 6 hits; +1
Brad Richards: one for leading in SOG with 8; +1
Fabian Brunnstrom: one yay! point for not being too hurt to play; +1

January 27, 2009

Game Day Update

by Kristine

Now that the excitement of the All-Star Game has died down, it’s back to business for the Stars. The biggest news of the day comes from Andrew’s, who reports that Fabian Brunnstrom will be playing a few games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) and is expected back in the lineup this weekend at Columbus. Great news! Bunny brings a certain spark to games that we feel has been missing since he’s been out. It’s interesting that he’s being sent down for a few games when they were so adamant about not sending him down at the beginning of the season, but it will be good for him to get up to speed and get his game legs back before he returns at the NHL level. Not to mention he’ll be in good hands – the Moose are second in the entire AHL, behind only Washington’s farm team the Hershey Bears and down by only one point.

On to tonight. It’s a big game day if you look at the standings. A lot of the games involve teams we are currently battling with for that elusive 8th seed – not surprising when you consider almost the entire West is in the running for it. First up, Columbus takes on Detroit. It wouldn’t do us many favors for Detroit to win, because we play them Thursday. However, not only do we play the Blue Jackets this weekend, they’re also currently sitting one spot above us with 49 points. So they need to lose more than Detroit needs to lose. Next up, Minnesota hosts Toronto tonight. Obviously, the Leafs need to win this one. Minnesota is 9th in the West with 49 points. Later in the night, San Jose will be paying the Avalanche a visit. Even though the Sharks are in our division, we have no real hope of catching up to them; the Avalanche, however, are 12th with 47 points. The Stars, for the record, also have 47 points and have played two fewer games than the Avs, winning us the 11th spot in the West. While the Sharks and Avs fight it out, the Oilers will be taking on the Sabres. The Oil is another team battling for a playoff spot, only they’re fighting to keep theirs. They’re 6th in the West with 51 points, but 7th and 8th place Canucks and Ducks also have 51 points. A loss tonight would keep them within reach for the Stars. Finally, in the biggest lose-lose of the night, the Coyotes are hosting the Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. Both teams are in playoff seeds as it stands now. The Coyotes are 5th with 53 points and the Ducks are 8th with 51 points. If anything, it would be most beneficial to the Stars for the Coyotes to win as they are at least a little farther ahead already and thus a little harder to catch up to.

Now for the Big Ifs. If we win tonight, and if the Jackets and the Wild both lose, the Stars will be tied with them for 49 points. As we have fewer games than both of them, that would put us at 9th place, and one win out of the playoffs. Continuing hypothetically, if the teams that need to lose continue to lose, and the Stars beat Detroit on Thursday, we’ll have 51 points and fewer games than Edmonton, Vancouver, and Anaheim – landing us firmly in the 6th spot. So now that we know what needs to happen short-term for the Stars to claim their playoff seed, it’s time to tidy up your shrines and start making offerings to the hockey gods.  You can start by asking for a win tonight at the AAC. Go Stars!

January 11, 2009

Game Review – 1/10/09 (DAL at PHX)

by Chelsea

Game:

Thanks to some serious lack of offense, we were treated to basically three hours of Ralph and Razor’s Goalie Exhibition.

On one end of the rink was Ilya Bryzgalov, claimed off waivers from Anaheim in November 2007.

On the other was Marty Turco, drafted, farmed, and raised to magnificence by the Stars.

While, at first glance, it was perfectly reasonable to expect a 3-2 game from the two goaltenders, the reality was that they’d built up walls between the pipes and dared someone to get something through. 

The first period was uneventful at best. There was only one penalty, a hooking minor called on Stephane Robidas at 19:35, and no scoring. James Neal and Loui Eriksson both had chances on Bryzgalov, but they were distance shots that he was able to get a piece of and hold the game scoreless.

The second period belonged to the goalies, though, and brought the audience to a single conclusion: these netminders would not soon be cracked, and whoever managed to get something by them would probably win the game.

Despite a myriad of penalties (Kyle Turris at 3:07, Robidas again at 6:08, and Steven Reinprecht at 18:31) and following power play opportunities, the game continued at a 0-0 tie.

Bryzgalov and Turco both came up big in the period, matching each other in big saves. When the Phoenix goalkeeper gobbled up a juicy rebound on the Stars PP, Turco raised the bid by shutting the door on a Martin Hanzal breakaway attempt. 

The second period ended scoreless, and during intermission we were treated to an interview with Steve Ott. He looked a little worn out, the blood on his jersey a testament to how hard the teams were going at each other, and assured Razor that getting a goal would make it all feel better.

Third period started, and we were treated to the climax of a great goaltender battle.

Turco began the challenge by shutting down the Coyotes power play after Trevor Daley got two minutes for holding at 5:52.

Bryzgalov responded by putting the lock on Loui Eriksson, who tried to redirect a centering feed into the net. 

At the other end of the ice, it was the Marty Turco show again, when he stopped an initial shot and let his rebound loose out in front. When Turris grabbed the puck and tried to put it in the open net, Turco absolutely robbed him with a larcenous glove save. 

The game went into overtime and out again with nobody scoring, giving shutouts to both goalies. It was Turco’s first of the season, and first road shutout in over 80 games.

The shootout was painful, as always. Richards, Lindstrom, and Eriksson were all stopped, but Mueller scored, putting the Coyotes up one after two rounds. Ribeiro scored in the third, utilizing his between-the-legs trick (and a bit of luck) to get the puck in the net. Turco stopped Jokinen with a steady glove save, putting the game in sudden death shootout mode.

Neal and Reinprecht both scored in round four.

Unfortunately, Modano tried his typical high glove side shot and was stopped, but Turris managed to fake out Turco with some forehand to backhand trickery, and Phoenix won the game 1-0.

Notes:

  • The three stars, in order: Bryzgalov, Turco, Turris
  • The shutout was Turco’s first in 46 games and 34th of his career.
  • Neal’s shootout goal was his second on his second career attempt. That’s 100%, or for the people that like comparing him to the Dallas captain, the exact same amount of goals and attempts as Brenden Morrow.
  • Joel Lundqvist returned to the lineup, on a line with Richards and Eriksson, and said after the game that he felt pretty good. 
  • Chris Conner and Doug Janik were the healthy scratches.
  • The Stars outshot the Coyotes 38-28 and won 57% of the faceoffs.
  • The Coyotes outhit the Stars, however, 36-20. 9 of those hits were from Neal and Ott alone.
  • Conclusion: Was it Bryzgalov just in the zone, or is there something wrong with our offense that makes good goalies look like great ones? The PP is struggling again and it’s almost starting to look like the Stars just can’t hit the net from any distance. Who cares if you outshoot the opponent every game if all 40 shots go straight to the goalie?

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for solid defense; +1
Stephane Robidas: minus-one for the dumb penalty but one for the penalty that saved a goal; +0
Matt Niskanen: one for solid defense; +1
Trevor Daley: minus-one for the dumb penalty; -1
Mike Modano: minus-one for lack of shootout creativity; -1
James Neal: one for the shootout goal, one for style, and one for leading in hits; +3
Loui Eriksson: one for leading in shots on goal and one for looking hurt on the bench but nearly scoring on the following shift; +2
Steve Ott: one for being energetic and fearless; +1
Marty Turco: four for the shutout, one for all the big saves, but minus-one for being easily tricked in the shootout; +4
Joel Lundqvist: two for being healthy and one for reminding us all why we need him; +3
Mike Ribeiro: one for the shootout goal; +1
Brad Richards: one for dominating in the faceoff circle; +1