Posts tagged ‘Players’

March 19, 2009

Game Review – 3/17/09 (DAL at VAN) and 3/18/09 (DAL at CGY)

by Kristine


I’m going to try to keep this simple. We lost both these games, and there’s been a lot of talk about why that is. The blame game can be played in many ways here. You could start back at the beginning, and blame Hull for signing Avery. You could also blame Avery for being Avery and not fitting in. You could blame Turco for his world of suck earlier in the season. You could blame Tippett for not keeping lines together. You could blame Jackson for not upgrading our blue line at the trade deadline. If you really wanted to, you could put some blame on Fabian Brunnstrom for not being willing to spend a year in the minors. You could put a bit of blame on Matt Niskanen for being young and not as solid defensively as he could be. Actually if you’re going to go that far, you could probably find some blame to put on just about every single player on the ice and most of the office to boot.

Here’s the thing. It’s just not that simple. You can’t boil it down to “the season sucked because of this player or that person.” It’s been a huge combination of things. Did Avery’s signing contribute to the problems? Yes, I think that’s been made clear. Did Turco’s bad season hurt? Obviously it did. Beyond that, Tippett has done the best he can with the one thing that’s made the biggest impact: injuries.

Look at this list of players who are currently injured: Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Mike Modano, Brad Richards, Steve Begin, Brian Sutherby, Toby Petersen. Four huge names, two important grit guys, and Petersen. Going back in time, add to that list players who have spent (relatively) significant amounts of time injured: Jere Lehtinen, Steve Ott, Stephane Robidas, Fabian Brunnstrom, Landon Wilson, Joel Lundqvist, Mark Parrish. Another impressive list. In fact, it would almost be easier to name the players who have been healthy this season. Off the top of my head? Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, Krys Barch, and our young D. Oh, and Sydor and Morrison. Chris Conner has been healthy, but he would be in the AHL if we weren’t so short on bodies. Same with Hutchinson as he’s been scratched for ages now. Is it any wonder we’ve been losing? Ribs and Loui are fantastic but as we’ve seen lately, they can’t be expected to carry the entire team for the rest of the season.

Because we’ve been battling the Injury Gods all season, the pressure has been on Tippett to keep the playoff dream alive. His solution has been to play intense, playoff-level hockey since about the end of December, and we’re starting to see the result of that. The Stars are exhausted. The past few weeks have been proof of that. Sure, we’ve won the odd game here and there and yes, players are still having great nights here and there. But overall, they look worn out and beaten down. I don’t blame them one bit. I will admit that I do somewhat blame Tippett for pushing them until they have nothing left to give, although I do understand why he did it. He was doing his best to keep his team running, and for a while it worked. The Stars went on that great run in January and early February, but within a few weeks were back to losing. Richards breaking his wrist seemed to be the metaphorical nail in the tire and they’ve been deflating ever since.

There are eleven games left in this season. If the Stars make the playoffs, that’s another at least four games. Can they continue to play at the level they’ve been playing at for that long? I don’t believe they can. Mike Ribeiro and Stephane Robidas are playing nearly 30 minutes a night, and it shows. Mike Modano is out with a lower body injury after the Vancouver game, and I’m sure his injury is made worse by the total fatigue his body must be experiencing. Same with Sutherby leaving last night’s game. How much longer until Robi, Ribs, and Loui push themselves too far and wind up on our laundry list of injured players? We can offer sacrifices and prayers to the Injury Gods all we want, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see them hurt.

The Stars are in 10th in the West now. At this point, take the pressure off. Stop playing the high level of hockey, let the young guys take bigger minutes and rest the top line guys, and see what happens. I would think the health of the team would more important than making the playoffs, especially if you’re making them with a roster that reads like an AHL team’s anyway.

SHR +/-:

DAL at VAN (3/1709)
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one pity point for playing almost half the game with an exhausting 27:35; +2
Matt Niskanen: one for leading in SOG and one for a very solid game; +2
Mike Modano: two for the assist but minus one for the team-high four giveaways; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, one for the two huge takeaways in the first and one for having a very good game overall; +5
Chris Conner: two for the assist and one for being willing to hit when nobody else is; +3
Jere Lehtinen: one yay you’re back point and one for making magic with anyone and everyone; +2
Mark Fistric: one for playing a very physical game; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal, one for leading in hits with five and one for drawing penalties left and right even if nobody could capitalize on the PP; +5
Marty Turco: one for making some huge saves at critical times; +1
Steve Begin: one for winning a team-best 40% of his faceoffs and two pity points for that huge hit he took; +3
Darryl Sydor: one for the solid game; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist, one for playing almost half the game with 27:19, and one pity point for how exhausted he must be; +3

DAL at CGY (3/18/09)
Nicklas Grossman: one for doing the most banging in corners with four hits; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for tying for most SOG with three; +3
Matt Niskanen: one for tying for most SOG with three and one for being strong on the PK; +2
Trevor Daley: one for leading in TOI with 24:47, one for tying for most SOG with three, and one for thinking quickly enough to give Turco his stick and take Ott’s for himself; +3
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal, but minus one for leading the team with three giveaways and minus-one for winning only 27% of his faceoffs; +1
Krys Barch: one because I’d rather have him in the lineup than certain others; +1
James Neal: minus-one for coming off a great game and doing absolutely nothing; -1
Brian Sutherby: one for winning 50% of his faceoffs when nobody else could win any and one “please don’t be hurt” point; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for tying for most blocked shots with four; +3
Mark Fistric: one for being the only D to end in the positive and one for upending Olli Jokinen in front of the net; +2
Steve Ott: one for the fight, one for not losing it, but minus-one for picking it to begin with; +1
Marty Turco: one for not sucking; +1
Darryl Sydor: one for tying for most blocked shots with four; +1

December 30, 2008

Brunnstrom and Lundqvist on Retroactive IR

by Kristine

Fabian Brunnstrom (officially lower body, probably left ankle or foot) and Joel Lundqvist (fractured scalpula) were placed on Injured Reserve today, both retroactive to the dates of their respective injuries. That means Lundqvist is eligbile to come back as soon as he is ready, and Brunnstrom is eligible to return January 3. However, when asked today at practice, Brunnstrom told a fan that he’s looking at another two weeks out of the line-up. That would put his return date around January 13. The official press release is here.

This is somewhat discouraging news. It’s hard to see our poor Stars still fighting injuries when we had a mostly full, relatively healthy roster just last week.

December 29, 2008

Matt Niskanen Is A Good Sport

by Kristine

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of updates. We’re doing our best to keep up, but it’s been a crazy few weeks in the SHR world. I worked every day in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, then there were the holidays, and then the 26th was Chelsea’s birthday. We made sure it was appropriately hockey-filled by throwing Chels a surprise Stars-themed party, but first we had an outing to  the Stars practice in Frisco. It was our older sisters’ first time to watch practice and meet any of the players, and they seemed to have a blast. We ran into Myra, Hubs, and the Kid and did the autograph line with them. Myra has a good write-up of it on her blog so I won’t go into it much. However, I have to give Matt Niskanen five off-ice points for being such a good sport. I asked him to sign and write “Happy Birthday Chelsea” in a birthday card for Chels, and he was a sweetheart about it, making sure he spelled her name right. Much to Chelsea’s mortification, I also asked him to draw her a picture. He laughed, commented that he wasn’t much of an artist, and drew a great little hi-sticking stick man. Thanks, Nisky!

The front of the card said Its your birthday!!! I got you a card!!!

The front of the card said "It's your birthday!!! I got you a card!!!"

December 21, 2008

Round-Up: Sad News for Brassard

by Kristine

On a quick (and sad) note, rookie Derick Brassard, who got his ass royally handed to him by James Neal this past Thursday night, probably has to have shoulder surgery as a result of the fight.

Blue Jackets blog Puck-rakers reports that Brassard dislocated his shoulder in the mismatch and an MRI shows it to be a “substantial injury.”

As excited as I was to see our rookie cream their rookie, I feel really bad that Brassard is probably going to miss the rest of his rookie season because of it. Although it’s a two-edged sword, because it was dumb of him to pick the fight in the first place, I wish the only thing he had hurt was his ego.

This is also bad news for the Blue Jackets, because without Brassard, they have virtually no depth through center. The roster freeze prevents them from making any moves at the moment, and their GM seems hesitant to make those moves anyway. It will be interesting to see how they perform without their stand-out rookie slash top line center.

So, to recap: Neal may have single-handedly ruined a kid’s season (which is a shame), taught him a very painful lesson (sticking up for teammates is well and good in the right time and place but only if you can actually fight and you’re not fighting somebody who will annihilate you because you’re challenging them after a perfectly clean and legal hit – whew!), and blown up the outlook for an entire team. Talk about a hell of a first NHL fight.

In other Stars-related news, guess who leads the entire league in even-strength goals? Our very own King Loui! He has 16, while Hossa and Kessel have 15 each, and Carter and Setoguchi both have 14. That aside, he’s had some other impressive career highs and milestones so far this season. He’s notched a six-game point streak, two career-high point games (3 points per), and his first hat trick. He tied his previous season goal record (14) in just 30 games and broke it in 31. He’s seventh overall in the league for goals and second for shooting percentage. He only has 4 PIM and is at +4 overall. Conclusion? He’s hot like Hansel right now. 😉

Finally, last night was our Secret Santa Christmas party with Myra, Jen, Caitlin, and Cat and her roommate. We watched the Ottawa game – which was, for the record, wholly unsatisfying – and exchanged not-so-Secret Santa gifts. We had a great time talking hockey with you ladies, and a huge thanks to Myra for hosting us!

December 14, 2008

Stars Aquire Sutherby from Pacific Rival

by Kristine

The Stars have acquired Brian Sutherby from the Anaheim Ducks at the cost of a conditional sixth-round 2010 draft pick and prospect David McIntyre.

Andrew’s scouting report has this to say about the new Star…

Gritty, physical forward with good size. Can play agitator role. Not afraid to drop the gloves when necessary. Plays primarily center but also plays wing. Considered a sound defensive forward and effective penalty killer. Limited offensive skills. Primarily a checking line center.

As DMN’s Mike Heika points out, it doesn’t seem like Sutherby brings a lot to the table that we need. Ott, Lundqvist, and Petersen already fill that role (when they’re healthy). In my opinion, it’s just another low-impact trade that brings in yet another spare part.

December 5, 2008

Sean Avery Needs Professional Help

by Kristine

Sean Avery has been suspended for six games, retroactive to Tuesday’s game, but the real story here is this…

Avery also agreed to seek professional anger-management evaluation and, if necessary, structured counseling in light of his pattern of behavior, which the NHL has deemed unacceptable and antisocial. press release

You know, I’ve been saying for a while now that his behavior at times really reminds me of somebody with antisocial personality disorder. The Mayo Clinic defines APD as “a type of chronic mental illness in which [a person’s] ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are dysfunctional.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

In any case, I’m a lot less interested in the league’s action than I am in seeing what the Stars decide. As I’m sure you’ve heard, they were trying to send him to the minors even before Tuesday’s SloppyGate, and the Moose already didn’t want him. In light of that, and the comments being made by the Stars Brass and veterans, it seems inevitable that Avery’s time as a Dallas Star is very, very limited. I’m going on the record now with my prediction: by the time his suspension is over – the last game of it is December 13 – the Stars will have found a way to get rid of him.

Update: Oh snap. In one of the more surprising turn of events so far, Tracey Myers has this quote from Brett Hull, about Avery needing professional help: “That was brought up by him. He made the phone call.” It’s easy to see why he might make that call. Imagine that you’ve got this image of yourself. You think you’re liked by the teams you play or have played for, that people see you as annoying to play against but still skilled, that you’re funny, and so on. Then this comes out, and you find out that people you play with are irritated by you instead of amused, that you really only have a job because you’re buddies with a GM who was willing to take a chance (and who is now fed up), and that a minor league team wouldn’t take you. I imagine the large disconnect would send at least some message through.

November 30, 2008

Stars Trade for Hutchinson, Lose Tukonen

by Kristine

The Stars announced today that they have traded prospect Lauri Tukonen in exchange for Tamba Bay minor league defenseman Andrew Hutchinson.

The internets seem confused about this trade. What does Hutchinson bring to our team other than a body on the bench? According to Andrew’s, “Good size and long reach help him defend well, but he can struggle with positioning.” Doesn’t that pretty much sum up our D already? And shouldn’t we be getting somebody who is good with positioning, to fill in one of our team’s many gaps?

Another sore point is that we could’ve had Hutchinson for nothing as recently as Thursday or Friday – he was on waivers up until then. Instead, we waited until today and lost another prospect. Are monkeys running these things? We messed up with Janik way back in the beginning by losing a draft pick for somebody we originally got for free, we gave Crombeen away to St Louis for nothing, and we waited too long to get Hutchinson and end up having to make a trade instead of just picking him up off waivers. It doesn’t seem like the most effective way to build a hockey team, and I question whether or not any of these trades are really going to end up benefitting us. If there is a long-term plan in effect here, I’m not seeing it.

What this seems to come down to is desperation. We might be losing Zubie to injury again, so we need another defensemen in the line-up. That part makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why we keep picking up other team’s rejects. Tampa had Hutchinson in the minors. Sydor was getting zero ice time in Pittsburgh. Parrish had his contract bought out by the Wild. Janik was on waivers for the Hawks when we picked him up the first time. Even way back in summer, Avery became a free agent because – to put it simply – the Rangers didn’t want him on their team enough to resign him. Have any of these players really bought a lot to our team? We’ve lost our voices talking about what Avery does or does not bring to the team, so I won’t get into that here. Parrish has been the most productive of the remaining four; I don’t see the other three becoming vital cogs in the Stars machine, at least this season. The only reason I can think of for why we’re adding people to our team who don’t make a big impact is desperation, a mindset of “we need somebody and we need somebody now, so who can we get ASAP?” This goes right back around to the long-term plan and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be one.

I’m doing my best not to judge Hutchinson without ever even seeing him play. I could be totally wrong about this. It just seems like a waste of time, energy, and prospects, and it’s frustrating to see the Stars Brass running things in a way that seems very haphazard.

October 14, 2008

Arnott Injured, Stars Win?

by Kristine

So according to various sources, Jason Arnott will not be playing in the next three Predators games due to injury. What does this mean for us? It means that our grudge match against the Preds tomorrow night will be against them minus one of their top scorers. And that, my friends, means that we may see our first regular season win. Talk about a thorn removed from our side. Although, if we do win, I don’t want to have to attribute it entirely to Arnott being MIA. Hopefully I’ll be able to say that it was mostly because we figured out how to gel as a team, and because our special teams managed to get with the program. I want the Stars to play beautiful hockey tomorrow night, and Arnott’s injury can just be a nice bonus.

Speaking of tomorrow night, word on the street is that Fabian Brunnstrom will be playing his first NHL game. Wouldn’t it be amazing if he scored? I don’t really expect him to – he’s learning our rink size, our way of playing hockey, so on and so forth – but it would mean that both of our rookies scored their first career goal in their first career game. I’m guessing that rarely, if never, happens. No pressure or anything, Bunny!

October 13, 2008

Practice Update via Andrew’s Page

by Kristine

The Stars were down to 12 forwards at practice Monday because Mike Ribeiro was out with an undisclosed injury. Coach Dave Tippett said there was a chance Ribeiro could practice Tuesday and he didn’t indicate that any missed games would be involved.

Jere Lehtinen did not practice today, but he did skate on his own before practice. He’ll be evaluated later to see if he could practice Tuesday, so his status for Wednesday is still up in the air.

Here’s how the lines looked for practice, which Tippett said was geared towards getting players to work together:


The defensive pairings were juggled with several different combinations used.

(via Mark)

Interesting line combos. I don’t know how I feel about pairing Mighty Mo with Louibot and Richards, mostly since I love his magic with Ribbons and doubt he could have that same chemistry with Richards. Then again, I don’t know who I would put there instead. I wonder how Mo feels about being on a line with two basically unproven (for us) players. Neal with Ott and Crombeen is also interesting. I can see that line doing some scoring. Not much to say about the Lunqvist-Petersen-Barch line.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m really hoping to see Lehtinen in the game on Wednesday. Maybe he can give us that spark we’ve been missing so far. Speaking of injured players, let’s cross our fingers that Ribeiro’s injury isn’t serious and that he’s on the ice tomorrow for practice.

Finally, a thought – if the rumors are true and Bunny does play Wednesday, and Ribeiro’s injury doesn’t keep him out, who will the healthy scratch be?

October 9, 2008

Sports Radio

by Chelsea

Brenden Morrow was on 104.1 The Ticket. Sadly, I missed all but the end. I did catch him saying that he felt Sergei Zubov would be back in the lineup sooner than expected. Yay, Zubie!

Now I’m listening to 103.3, off a tip from the Official Forums. Apparently, Mike Ribeiro is scheduled to be on at 2:40. It’s currently 2:35, and they’re talking about… football.

And just as I was going comatose, they announce that they’re done with football and will have Ribs after the commercial break.

Some interesting pieces from the interview:

When asked if any Dallas Stars travel with a bodyguard: “Ah.. no?”
This led to them talking about how hockey players don’t need bodyguards, because, really, who would challenge a hockey player?

When asked if he was offended by the term ‘scrappy’: “No, not really.”
Ribs apparently takes it as a compliment.

When asked about the fact they the Stars are no longer underdogs, and if they have to guard themselves from their own egos: “Well you have to… you cannot think about what you did last year and think it’s going to be as easy…”
Some nice paraphrasing, I know. Basically, Ribs was saying that they recognize it’ll still be a tough season and they’re going to focus on it one game at a time.

When asked about Sean Avery: “I think he’ll be good for the team… a lot of speed, a lot of talent. I think he’s fit in already. He’s a funny guy. He’s a different character.”
Ribs is going to teach Avery to like Prince concerts, or something. I lost what he was saying under the interviewers, who were talking over him a little bit.

Kind of a short interview. Not bad, though. The questions asked were a little lacking in the originality department, but Ribeiro did have some good answers for them.

The Stars site has a link to a Brenden Morrow interview on NHL Live (10/08/08).

It includes:
A funny chat about wanting to hit Sean Avery. Talking about the season schedule.  A little bit about the Morrow twins. Learning from the Detroit Red Wings. “You come in a little young and dumb”.

In other broadcasting news, Ralph and Razor have signed a new contract and will be with us until at least 2013-2014. This makes me (and probably anyone that’s every watched or listened to a Stars game) very very happy.