Posts tagged ‘Razor’

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

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January 3, 2009

Favorite Razorisms of 2008

by Chelsea

If you’ve ever listened to the other team’s broadcast, or watched a game that doesn’t involve the Stars, you’ve probably spent half the time wishing you had Ralph and Razor instead of those homers who don’t know what they’re talking about. Sure, some other teams do have good play-by-play or color commentary guys, but they just never seem to compare. 

What better way to remember some of our favorite moments from 2008 than through the voices of the duo that was there through it all?

Because this blog is new and written by people with bad memory, all of the ones in this post are actually from the 2008 part of the 08-09 season. If anyone has some of their own favorites, say from the end of 07-08, they should absolutely contribute!

—–

After the Stars lost their first two games of their late-October, early-November road trip:
– “Your special teams (powerplay and penalty killing) are the electrical. Right now – they aren’t up to code and are probably a fire hazard.” – Razor, in an analogy about how the team is a house in need of repair.
 

From the 12/02/08 game against the Calgary Flames:
-“That’s an elbow-rectomy.” – Razor, after Chris Conner had his face introduced to someone’s elbow for about the fifth time in that game.
 

From the 12/13/08 game against the Nashville Predators:
– “Left hand larcenous glove grab of the highest order!” – Razor, after Tobias Stephan made a highlight reel glove save.
 

After it was announced Sean Avery would not be returning to the Stars:
– “For this hockey team, the 08-09 Stars, the guy was like a skating, swaggering, insolent, Gucci-labeled case of necrotizing fasciitis.” – Razor, in why Avery was so toxic to the team.  
 

From the 12/23/08 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs:
– “Steve, Santa’s not going to come to your door if you keep that up.” – Razor, while the camera was on a very smug Steve Ott, who’d just successfully agitated a Leaf into taking a penalty
 – “Nik Hagman tried to pull a Ribeiro on Ribeiro, and it didn’t work” – Ralph, after Niklas Hagman tried to puckhandle around Mike Ribeiro unsuccessfully.

I don’t have the direct quote, but Razor telling Ric Renner that his hair looks like something out of a boy band also absolutely belongs on this list. 

—–

The Stars have their first game of 2009 tonight against the Oilers, in Edmonton. Ought to be a good showing, with both teams well rested and fighting to climb into playoff spot territory. Here’s to great start (and another great year of Ralph and Razor)!

December 31, 2008

Game Review – 12/23/08 (DAL at TOR)

by Chelsea

Game:

Both the Leafs and the Stars had seen improvement in the recent stretch of games, and despite goaltender struggles, and both looked to continue building that success.

Playing in Toronto was a bit of a homecoming for a handful of Stars players. Trevor Daley grew up there. James Neal hails from nearby Whitby and Krys Barch from nearby Hamilton.

The starting group for Dallas featured both Neal and Daley, a bit of a gift from head coach Dave Tippett. Neal was on the top line with Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, and Daley was paired up with Stephane Robidas. Marty Turco started in net.

An early fight between Krys Barch and Andre Deveaux, only 2:51 into the game, set the energy level for the Dallas Stars. Clearly, Deveaux was prepared for Barch, reverse-jerseying him to steal the win, but it hardly worked to discourage the feisty enforcer, who would show up later for round two.

While they each took their five minutes, James Neal opened the scoring when he stole Daley’s rebound from Vesa Toskala with his skate as he crashed the crease and kicked it up to his stick. Before Toskala could react, the puck had been tossed behind him and into the net, putting the Leafs down at a very fixable 1-0.

That clarification is important, because it wasn’t really all that fixable for long.

The goal came at 3:23, with assists from Trevor Daley and Jere Lehtinen.

The next goal came only five minutes later.

This time it was Steve Ott to light the lamp, at 8:55. He’d camped out in the crease, apparently invisible to Toskala, who moved out of his way to cover a possible Ribeiro shot. Ribeiro passed it to Ott instead, who threw it in a fairly open net.

The Leafs just continued to fall apart from there.

A handful of hits and giveaways led to Fabian Brunnstrom demonstrating the power of an impressive solo effort.

At 10:45, he forced his way to the front of the net after collecting a dropped pass from Ott, protecting the puck with his leg as he swept through the offensive zone. Brunnstrom crashed the net, flying across the crease and flinging the puck in behind Toskala.

The assists went to Steve Ott and Stephane Robidas.

Ott, absolutely on fire, drew a roughing penalty from Deveaux at 13:38 after he declined a fight (due to his healing hand) and turned around and laid out one of his teammates. The Stars went on power play for the first time in the game.

During the PP, Stephane Robidas and Brad Richards manned the points, passing the puck back and forth looking for a shooting lane. Richards found one, releasing a slap shot too fast for Toskala to get a piece of.

Mike Modano got the second assist.

Mikhail Grabovski took two minutes for elbowing at 15:21, but the score remained the same, and the rest of the period went by without incident. Dallas went into the first intermission up 4-0.

Second period.

If you thought the Leafs would get an earful during intermission and come back on fire, you were wrong.

It only took 3:45 into the second period for the Stars to continue their goal-scoring onslaught.

This time it was thanks to the perseverance of Krys Barch, down on his knees in front of the opposing crease, as he forced the puck into the net around a sprawled Toskala.

He was assisted by Landon Wilson and Trevor Daley.

The game continued uneventfully for seven minutes, the pace appearing to slowly move in favor of the Leafs. However, that wasn’t actually the case.

Despite being up by five goals at this point, the Stars went on the attack again halfway through the second. This one came from Mike Ribeiro, with a goal very similar to Ott’s; he camped out in the slot, and waited for a pass to catch Toskala out of position. He was assisted by Wilson and Niskanen.

As if being down 6-0 wasn’t bad enough (or enough like being in a real live video game), the Stars scored again barely a minute later.

It was James Neal again.

Toskala, poorly recovering from a save, was not even close to being able to stop Neal as he shoveled the loose rebound into the net. Grossman and Lehtinen got the assists.

At this point, Toskala was pulled and replaced by Curtis Joseph.

The Leafs finally regained their footing after this goal, and I say finally because it was getting really pathetic for them and the pity was ruining the excitement of winning a game by 7 goals.

It was Toronto who scored the last goal of the period, with a fast shot from Jason Blake that beat Turco on the glove side.

Dominic Moore and Tomas Kaberle got the assists.

Second period ended. Razor asked Neal during intermission if he considered a hat trick when he already had two goals, and Neal admitted that he was in fact thinking about it.

Third period started.

The Leafs, sorta determined to try and climb out of a 7-1 hole and gaining a little momentum off discovering that Marty Turco was not in fact a solid wall, came out with energy similar to what they showed at the beginning of the first period.

And by that, we mean violent energy.

This time it was only 1:57 in when Deveaux and Barch dropped the gloves for another round.

Barch was better prepared, despite basically getting mugged at the beginning of the fight, and ended up forcing Deveaux to call for the refs to break it up. Even then, Barch wouldn’t let go. Nice rematch there.

James Neal took two minutes for hooking at 3:14.

Midway through the third, the Leafs managed to score their second and final goal, with a nice play from Deveaux and Stempniak to set up Mikhail Grabovski.

A small incident at 11:30 left Steve Ott and Pavel Kubina each with minor penalties (roughing and hi-sticking).

At 17:20, Jonas Frogren got two minutes for holding, setting up a very determined James Neal with a perfect opportunity for getting that third goal.

You could see the other Stars trying to help Neal get his hat trick, occasionally force-feeding him the puck instead of taking the shot themselves.

He finally went for it, rushing in and trying a shot from the upper part of the faceoff circle to Joseph’s right. It went in, and at 18:34 in the third, James Neal got his first career hat trick.

Andrew Hutchinson and Marty Turco assisted.

The game ended as an 8-2 blowout in favor of the Stars.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Neal, Robidas, Daley
  • Neal and Daley each took their game star twirls on the ice after the game for their hometown fans.
  • Turco stopped 20 of 22 shots for a .909 sv%
  • This game was the debut of Brian Sutherby, acquired from the Ducks.
  • Neal’s hat trick came on the 10th anniversary of Mike Modano’s fifth career hat trick, which also happened in Toronto against the Leafs.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom’s goal turned out to be the game winner, his 4th of the season.
  • 15 Stars had points in the game, including 8 players with a multi-point night.
  • Conclusion: It was a great start to the holidays, an unfortunate loss for the Leafs, and overall a much-needed boost in points, stats, and confidence.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist but minus-one for the negative +/-: +1
Stephane Robidas: two for each assist and one for leading the team in +/-: +5
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: two for each assist and one for leading the team in blocked shots; +5
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Krys Barch: three for the goal, one for each fight, and one for leading the team in hits; +6
James Neal: three for each goal, one for determination, and one for leading the team in SOG; +11
Brian Sutherby: one for a solid debut; +1
Landon Wilson: two for each assist; +4
Jere Lehtinen: two for each assist; +4
Andrew Hutchinson: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for the assist, and two for being a fired-up ball of energy for the entire game; +7
Marty Turco: two for the assist and two for a good game; +4
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5

November 27, 2008

Game Review – 11/26/08 (DAL at MIN)

by Chelsea

Game:

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

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

Game started at 7:00 PM CT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second period…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I concur.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

SHR +/-:

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

November 23, 2008

Game Review – 11/22/08 (DAL vs ANA)

by Chelsea

No game review for the Hawks game, because the only part of that game that ended up really mattering was something that happened in the last six minutes. No need to write out just how badly it the game went.

Game:

Last night, the Stars faced the Anaheim Ducks for the second time this season and the first time at home. The puck dropped at 7:00 PM CT. This was probably the first time since opening night that the crowd rose to their feet when the Stars starting line/defense was announced, which was really nice to see.

Our starting line was Neal-Ribeiro-Avery, with Grossman-Zubov on D. In net for the Stars was Marty Turco, while Anaheim started their backup goalie, Jonas Hiller.

The first period was on fire. That’s what I love about playing the Ducks- no matter how bad things have been, its always Duck Season when Anaheim rolls into town. I didn’t do the exact math, but I think there were the first 3 minutes and a minute or so in between penalties without someone in the box, but for the other 15 minutes of the first, there was always someone in one of the penalty boxes.

It all kicked off at 2:50, when Ryan Getzlaf took two minutes for cross checking Sean Avery. I can only imagine what Avery was saying to get him worked up so quickly. Before that PP even finished, Avery got into it with Steve Montador. After some angry shuffling, Montador came away with 2 minutes for roughing, and Avery matched that but also got 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct (served by Mark Parrish). So, at 4:40, we switched from PP to PK.

PK = not so hot. At 5:37, Corey Perry exploited Turco’s inability to plug the 5-hole for a quick power play goal, putting them up 1-0. To this I say (with considerable disgust), “Averryyyy.”

Another reason I love Krys Barch: he hates stupid 80’s wrestler mustaches just as much as I do! Only two seconds after the Ducks scored, Barch tried his best to wipe that ugly facial hair right off George Parros, using his fists.

Unfortunately, Parros is something of a monster (6’5”, 231 lbs) and got a few solid hits in with Barch in no position to retaliate. The only real hit Barch got in, though, happened to be hard enough to send Parros to the ice. I’d call it a draw.

Both got 5 minute fighting majors.

Landon Wilson, 33-year-old son of Stars associate coach Rick Wilson, was dressed for the Stars after having been called up after Morrow’s hugely unfortunate injury. He wore #22 and the first thing he did as a Star was get a hooking minor. I think at this point (6:03 in the first) we had Avery, Barch, Parrish, and Wilson in the box. The Ducks box had Parros and Montador.

Things went fairly smoothly for a bit here, teams doing the usual hitting, PKing, and puck scrambling. Then, Avery got out of the box. It took him less than five minutes to get back in it.

At 12:10, Avery was able to get an actual fight in, against Chris Kunitz (who later got a cheap shot in at Avery’s helmet as he skated to the bench, which Avery rightly ignored). The fight was pretty much a draw, but Avery got the last laugh when he grabbed Kunitz by the face to force him to the ice.

And another pair of five-minute fightings.

Kristine turned to me around here somewhere and said, “Now it’s Ott’s turn.”

Mike Modano always seems to get jealous of people in the penalty box, as he once again trips someone to go take a sit-down with a teammate (only 13 seconds after the fight). Luckily, this didn’t put us down by two men like it did last time he pulled this stunt. I laugh a little at how Mo must have felt, sitting in the penalty box with Sean Avery.

Killed that penalty off, and got a power play of our own when Bret Hedican took a hooking on Toby Petersen (who I am absolutely convinced should be a defenseman, not a center) at 15:47.

This next part was funny for two reasons. One, because Kristine absolutely called it. Two, because of how startled 210 lb Montador looked when 193 lb Ott turned around after slamming him into the boards and shoved him.

For such an exciting start, the fight itself kind of sucked. They basically wrapped their arms around each other and skated in a circle. Razor cracked a joke about Tom Bergeron (from Dancing with the Stars) showing up. Sorry Otter, but that one was a draw too.

More fighting majors distributed.

Got a power play at the end of the period when Travis Moen elbowed a Star at 19:19.

And that’s how the first ended, with 46 minutes in penalties between the two teams.

The second started with good momentum, seeing as we were on a power play for the first 80 seconds. Then we got a short two-man advantage.  At 00:46, Brett Festerling got two minutes for hooking, giving the Stars a full 30 seconds of 5-on-3 followed by 90 of 5-on-4.

The Ducks killed off the PP until Loui Eriksson got a minor interference at 1:16 (right as our 5-on-3 ended) that evened it out to 4-on-4. I think. Either way, the only good thing to come of that penalty mess was a good scoring chance from Ribeiro that was unfortunately stopped by Hiller.

To add to the penalty mess, Chris Pronger was all, like, “Oooh, interference, that looks like funnn.” so he totally copied Loui and got 2 for interfering on Sean Avery, ’cause, like, everybody wants a piece of Aves.

Now, this was the first game as alternate captain Stephane Robidas, and he stepped up nicely in the second after Festerling got a hit in on Mike Ribeiro (that I believe caused him to lose his helmet). Robidas, in return, introduced Festerling to both his shoulder and the boards. To add a little (probably unintended) insult, he stumbled over the attempting-to-rise Festerling without even seeming to notice he was there.

At about 11:20, both Brad Richards and Sergei Zubov nearly scored, and Fabian Brunnstrom nearly got the rebound. For someone who looks sorta timid when he’s on the ice, Bunny put in a heck of an effort that left him sitting in the crease- still trying to stuff the puck past Hiller.

A+ for persistence.

With the momentum strongly favoring the Stars, and Turco blocking everything sent his way to keep it at a 1-0 game, it was only a matter of time before someone’s golden opportunity produced a point.

It’d be Loui Eriksson, further cementing his current standing as team leading goal scorer, who popped a pretty one past Hiller. The play started with Marty Turco, who left his crease to retrieve the puck from behind his net and send it along the boards, where Trevor Daley picked it up. Daley hit the boosters and him and Eriksson zipped across center ice into Anaheim’s defensive zone. Daley veered left, Eriksson went right, Daley passed, and Eriksson caught it as he sailed past the crease for a swift backhand into the net.

Then Daley mauled Eriksson with a congratulatory hug.

Now, there’s something Neal did during this that was oddly reminiscent of a much-missed style of play that we used to see constantly from the Stars; he took the man, not the puck. As Turco’s pass whipped around the boards, Neal cut off the lone Duck in position to take the puck, and Daley was there to collect it as it slipped past.

Daley and Turco officially got the assists, but Neal’s move opened up the opportunity for Daley. So I’m going to credit him in our +/- for an assist anyway.

I nearly left my seat to go strangle Avery when he got another roughing penalty at 14:57 in the second, which led to a Corey Perry goal at 15:03. However, Turco apparently knocked the net off its moorings during the attempted save, and the goal was disallowed. The Ducks were understandably peeved, and Turco admitted that maybe it wasn’t the fairest call, but I’m sure Morrow was sitting somewhere feeling a little bit of retribution.

Right at the end of the period, Chris Pronger hooked Neal, giving the Stars a full two minutes of PP to start the third on.

Third period, again started with a brief 5-on-3 thanks to Scott Niedermayer getting an interference penalty at 00:38. For probably the third or fourth time this season, the Stars failed to score on a prime two man advantage opportunity. They got maybe two SOG during the PP.

Tis the season of double penalties, apparently. Quiet giant Nicklas Grossman got a little rowdy and took it out on Ryan Getzlaf. They tried to duel it out and both got slashing penalties. Grossman got a good shove in on Getzlaf before they were separated, though.

The last eight minutes of regulation were tense and energetic but still ended 1-1. OT was even more tense and energetic but those five minutes ended 1-1 as well.

Shootout! I hate shootouts. I predicted Ribeiro, Eriksson, and Modano for the shooters. It was actually Richards, Zubov, and Ribeiro.

Richards scored, hoorah, but after Turco let in a goal from Perry, it was up to Zubov and Ribeiro. Zubov had some fancy skating, but ended up sending the puck right to Hiller. Ribeiro tried a fancy between the legs move again, but just missed. Getzlaf was last for the Ducks, and he correctly predicted Turco’s movements enough to win the shootout 2-1 Ducks. That ended the game 2-1 Ducks as well. The standing points also were distributed 2-1 in favor of the Ducks.

One point > zero points, but one point =/= enough to climb out of the cellar.

Notes:

  • The three game stars (in order): Hiller, Getzlaf, Daley
  • Turco stopped 23 of 24 shots for a .958 sv% despite having started by letting in the first Duck shot of the game.
  • The Ducks ended with 12 penalties for a total of 33 minutes. The Stars had 10 penalties and 29 minutes.
  • Sean Avery led the Stars in PIM for the game, with 11.
  • Sergei Zubov led in TOI, with 31:49.
  • Mike Modano tanked in the faceoff circle with only 38% wins (8 out of 22). Best was Mike Ribeiro, who won 10 in 8 for 56%.
  • Modano and Robidas led in SOG, with 4 each.
  • Matt Niskanen was scratched for Doug Janik, who clocked in for 7:57 ice time.
  • Steve Ott led in hits (5) and Trevor Daley in blocked shots (3).
  • In the four games that have gone into OT this season, the Stars have won 0 of them.
  • Conclusion: I saw nearly 60 minutes of (to borrow Robidas’ term) work ethic from every Star. Turco was impressive, but is getting predictable with his 5-hole issues. This team has too much respect for Morrow to not pull together for his sake. My money’s on finally seeing a winning streak soon.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for throwing his weight around against the Ducks; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for continuing to prove himself worthy of the ‘A’; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for leading in blocked shots; +3
Mike Modano: minus-one for getting so easily knocked off the puck all night; -1
Brenden Morrow: 😦 ; +1
Krys Barch: one for the fight; +1
Sean Avery: minus-one for each of the stupid penalties and one for the fight; -2
James Neal: two for the assist and one for having a strong overall game; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: one for the fight, one for leading in hits, and one for leading in takeaways; +3
Marty Turco: two for the assist, two for a fairly solid game, but minus-one for getting bested by a backup in a shootout; +3
Sergei Zubov: one for being a machine, albeit a slightly rusty one; +1
Mike Ribeiro: one for the fancy shootout move but minus-one for not scoring on it; +0
Brad Richards: two for scoring on the shootout; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for having one of his best games since his debut, despite not getting any points to show for it; +2

Off Ice +/-:

Trevor Daley: one for a funny “60 seconds with…” during intermission; +1
Mark Parrish: two for being surprisingly friendly at Friday’s practice; +2
Brad Richards: minus-two for being so incredibly mopey so consistently that we’ve stopped feeling concerned and started feeling annoyed at his pessimistic pouting; -2

November 1, 2008

Game Review – 10/31/08 (DAL at CHI)

by Chelsea

Game:

The short version.

No Brad Richards, out day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Started out just about even with fighting for the puck.

Stars score first, with Loui Eriksson getting his fifth of the season.

First Hawk PP of the game and they score on a very very well-screened Stephan.

Stephan turned around and some big saves at the end of the period, but still gave one up to Patrick Kane.

First ends 2-1 Blackhawks.

Lots of both teams doing lots of nothing impressive for over five minutes.

Lovely moves from Stephan (poke checking the puck), Barch (collecting the puck and sending it to center ice), and Ott (grabbing the puck and stealing away for a breakaway goal). During this, Ben “Swings Hockey Stick at Players Instead of Puck” Eager slashed Robidas, sending him to the ice and getting a faceful of Ott. Robi was alright, though.

Watched a 5-on-3 in our favor slip by without any shots on goal.

Gave up the tie, not to regain it. Period ends 3-2 Blackhawks.

Note here that the absence of Brad Richards cost us more than the presence of Brad Richards. It took away winger Ott, replacing him with center Ott. Winger Ott was able to push the net and have a high-scoring center to back him up. Center Ott has to stabilize a line of Sean Avery and Chris Conner, instead of doing what he does best. So, Richards, I sincerely hope you had a good reason for missing this game, and that you don’t miss any more.

Second intermission. Interview with Barch:

Razor: “Any bad blood still dripping over from that very fractious preseason game in Dallas?”
Barch, with a laugh: “Oh you always hate everybody you play against. There’s bad blood everywhere”

Barch is absolutely underrated, not to mention funny.

Third period was just fail. That 3-2 hole grew to 5-2 completely unanswered. Morrow got a stupid penalty for giving a Blackhawk a big friendly hug. He must have done his spin thing, because they didn’t score. The only player not really being frowned upon for sloppy play, though? Tobias Stephan. Despite plenty of scoring chances in the end, the final score was 5-2.

Notes:

  • Three stars were all Blackhawks.
  • The special teams for the Stars were pathetic. 0/7 on the PP.
  • Stephan stopped 27 in 32 shots for a .844 sv%. He also got an assist on the Ott goal, his first NHL point ever.
  • The game was the 500th for Stephane Robidas, who was a Blackhawk for 45 games in 03-04. Good to have him back.
  • I think Barch needs more ice time. He played 7 minutes, got an assist, blocked a shot, and had two hits. Imagine what he could do with a full 20 minutes.
  • Conclusion: Not the team that played Wednesday. If you happen to see that team, please redirect them to Boston by tomorrow night.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for good defense and one for the wrestler move he pulled on a ‘Hawk; +3
Stephane Robidas: two for taking a nasty hit and not even leaving the ice, minus-one for his mess-up on the fifth goal; +1
Matt Niskanen: minus-two for bad defense and one for being speedy; -1
Trevor Daley: minus-two for spending 23 minutes doing nothing but allowing goals; -2
Brenden Morrow: two for the assist; +2
Krys Barch: two for the assist, one for the interview, and one for being underrated; +4
Sean Avery: two for trying hard and getting targeted for it, minus-one for failing at faceoffs; +1
Toby Petersen: waste of space; -1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for trying to kick Eager’s butt repeatedly, one for style, and one for “igniting passion”; +7
Tobias Stephan: three for making many big saves, two for the assist, one for style, and minus-two for letting his stats get destroyed; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: minus-two for acting like Sidney Crosby and hiding in the back with an undisclosed injury when he was needed on the ice; -2

October 27, 2008

Mr. Monday: Brenden Morrow

by Chelsea

Best known as our captain, Brenden Morrow’s rise through our SHR +/- came largely from points he earned off ice. Not to be mistaken, though, he’s also only 2 on ice points behind Robidas and Modano (tied for first). Combined, he’s at 42 points, second only to Robidas (who will not be Mr. Monday yet, because there’s already a post about him here and well… we figure he’ll be at the top of the list for awhile.)

There’s a lot of common knowledge about Morrow, like the fact that he claimed his captaincy straight from Modano himself. He spent most of his time with the Stars going by “Mini-Mo” or “Minnie”, which I’m sure he’ll always appreciate. He’s got himself a big new house, a pretty blond wife, an adorable daughter, and a new set of twins. In late 2006, during a game against the Blackhawks, opponent Radim Vrbata accidentally skated over his right wrist. Two tendons were severed, and it was questioned if he’d ever play hockey again. However, warrior that he is, Morrow returned with wrist guards and determination and now plays on the top line with “hockey gangsta” Mike Ribeiro.

I rather liked Razor’s recap of the skate-wrist incident,

We were in Chicago right after Christmas and Radim Vrbata of the Hawks attempted to jump over a prone Morrow during the game. As he did his skate blade sliced across his wrist. Morrow leapt to his feet and bolted for the Stars dressing room in excruciating pain. The pain was so bad he reportedly bit clean through his jersey.

The injury was repaired, and over the half season he spent on IR the wrist healed, but when he returned to play he was forced to deal with a sort of “skate-phobia”.

He admitted to fearing blades at times in games and it even disrupted his sleep patterns.

Thankfully he says he’s over it now, but in the last months of the 06-07 season it was occupying his thoughts and dreams.

Speaking of injuries, did anyone besides Kristine and me catch Morrow’s magical rubber arm in last season’s playoffs? I forget the game, but he basically tried to check someone, missed, bounced off the boards, and landed on his arm in a way that we were sure that it was either A) broken or B) out for the season. And yet… he finished out the game and claimed it “looked worse than it felt”. Magic!

But, yeah. We’re all glad that he’s healthy now, of course, and hope to see him stay that way for a long, long time.

How about some Morrow videos? Granted, any true Morrow-lover has probably already seen these, but I think they’re always good for rewatching.

  • Morrow brings us “cheesy rebound”.
  • Morrow mangles Michalek.
  • Morrow is bigger than Matt Damon.
  • Morrow is injured, unbalanced, and fiesty.
  • Morrow experiences exhaustion-fueled uninhibited joy.
  • Morrow and Sean Avery have something in common.
  • Morrow likes driving the Stars-decorated Expedition.
  • Morrow gets a good laugh at a dancing Flyers fan.
  • For those that want to do a little more digging: Brenden Morrow 1997 Entry Draft, Brenden Morrow Interview, Brenden Morrow 06-07 Highlights, and FSN Feature – Casino Night. Put these in the Stars Vision search box.
After watching these, I’m sure you’re hungry for some of the lesser known things about Brenden Morrow. If you did watch them, you now know that he likes karaoke, used to be a chunky kid, idolizes Brett Hull, thinks loogies are funny, and is otherwise easily amused.
But, what else?  Here are some interesting Q&A with Morrow, from a DMN piece in 2007:

DT: What is your usual routine to get ready for a game? Do you have some crazy superstitions before a big game?

Brenden Morrow: Two-hour nap, a little coffee and left before right with all my equipment. Those are my superstitions.

Robbie: Do you guys still play pranks on the new kids (tape on the skate blades, etc.)?

Brenden Morrow: When Marty was a rookie and I was in my second year, Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner (with help) took everything from our hotel room – beds, dressers, televisions, art work … even lightbulbs – and put it all in our bathroom at the team hotel in San Jose. We have always vowed to pass that prank down, but we haven’t done it yet. Maybe this year …

The rest is here.

In my personal experience, Morrow has always been very personable with his fans. The two times we’ve waited outside practice, he’s shown up happy to sign autographs. His weekly segment on BaD radio are always good for a listen – in the most recent one, he [very] reluctantly admitted that they had not in fact gone to dinner with Avery in New York, but did meet up with him later that night. He’s also admitted to his attention wandering a bit during penalty box time, asking if it was Bob and Dan he’d seen dressed up as vikings during the Oct 15th game (Dan was – dressed as a medieval knight, actually).

Sometimes, (see PIM this season below) Morrow’s frustration gets the better of him. After getting a goal disallowed because it bounced off his thumb and not his stick, provided us with this gem:

His disallowed goal, added to a previous call from the Toronto war room this season toward the Stars, prompted Morrow to say it was “the second horse**** call from Toronto this season.”

And that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he had recently? According to Friday’s BaD Morrow show, he apparently saw another teammate chirping at an official and felt like jumping in. Silly Morrow, actin’ like a Neanderthal. We know he can do better! In fact…

This year, Morrow has played all nine games and registered 3 goals and 7 assists. He’s also put up a hefty 20 penalty minutes and gotten 31 shots on goal. Making the iffy assumption that this will be a consistent trend, his 2008-2009 season will look like this (in comparison to his 07-08 season):

82 games played (82).
27 goals (32).
63 assists (42).
90 points (74).
182 penalty minutes (105).
282 shots on goal (207).

Morrow’s never actually had a 90-point season with the NHL, so here’s hoping!

So, since I’m 30 minutes past the time I’d intended to publish this, it’s picture time!

When determined, Morrow manages look a bit like Kirk Cameron.

When determined, Morrow manages look a bit like Kirk Cameron.

Happy Morrow means happy fans.

Happy Morrow means happy fans.

And one from Kristines flickr collection.

And one from Kristine's flickr collection.

October 26, 2008

Game Review – 10/25/08 (DAL vs WSH)

by Chelsea

Game:

With all the teams in the NHL hitting the ice tonight, only half could walk away with a full two points. Unfortunately, the Stars were not in that half. Instead, we served as a playground for the Washington Capitals, ending their losing streak and sending them home with a new Russian record. But more on that later.

Kristine and I were there at the AAC to watch in person. Met up with Jen and Caitlin, who were very cool, before the game. It was lots of fun. 🙂 Wanted to meet up with the Sign Girls and Myra before the game as well, but ended up not having enough time. 😦 Another game, maybe?

As for the actual game, I thought the first ten minutes were very promising. There was an interruption seven minutes in when Sergei Fedorov took a penalty for slashing, but the power play didn’t prove to be efficient enough to produce points.

It wasn’t until 10:19 that someone scored, a moment easily remembered as “Oh my god, Sean Avery just did what?”. That’s right. Avery got his first goal as a Dallas Star, and first of the season. I’ll admit that I was impressed. BJ Crombeen fired a slap shot from the blue line, and when Caps goalie Jose Theodore didn’t cover his rebound, Sean Avery scooped it up and tossed it behind him into the net. Mike Modano got the other assist.

It was somewhere in here that we begun to notice that Stephane Robidas did not seem to like Alex Ovechkin. At all.  I did a little research and found no reason for it, but there it was. Robidas repeatedly putting Ovechkin into the boards with excessive force, and even a verbal confrontation between the two. It surprised me, as Robidas doesn’t much care for fist fights (see the last game against the Islanders).

So it only took about a minute after the Avery goal for the Capitals to take the wind completely out of our sails. Crombeen got a minor penalty for slashing at 11:14, and things felt like they slowly drifted downhill from there.

It was on that power play that Fedorov got his first goal of the night, a wrist shot with assists from Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. I did something I don’t usually do in writing the review, and that’s go back and watch the other team’s goal about five hundred times. I wanted to know whose fault this was. Turns out, the official replay is not so helpful. However, it looked to me like Nicklas Grossman allowed Semin to pass the puck to Fedorov, who had a clear shot at our Marty Turco. Brenden Morrow was also a little slow on the uptake, missing an opportunity to block the pass as well. That one I would not count against Turco.

Tied 1-1, we’d lost the only lead we’d take in the game. At 16:58, Capital Tomas Fleischmann broke the tie with help from teammate Michael Nylander. Again, I reviewed the replay. What I saw was this: Fabian Brunnstrom attempted to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but it got picked up by a Capital. Nylander gets it through the defensive zone and passed past Brunnstrom and Avery to Fleischmann. Turco was slow and unable to stop the puck from going in. I think that one can be attributed to both the absent defense but also to our goaltender.

At 19:15, Mike Green tripped up Morrow and got called on it by the officials. During that Dallas Stars power play, Brunnstrom apologized to us all for his slip-ups by scoring a tiemaker goal with ten seconds left in the first. It was like his third goal in his NHL debut; he was right in the netminder’s face, the angle was weird, the hole was small, the pass was nice, and the puck went in. Stephane Robidas and Sean Avery pitched in for the assists.

Went for a pretzel, hot cocoa, and hot dog in intermission and came back to hear Joel Lundqvist complaining about the election in Swedish. We wonder: Do the Swedes (or previously, Finnes) get to pick what they say in Swedish or does someone decide for them? Does Lundqvist really hate election-talk? Does Brunnstrom really have a Bikini Team?

The second period had a lot of Krys Barch in it. Early on, he nearly broke the tie by stuffing the puck in a wrap around attempt, but was blocked by Theodore. He proceeded to run over people until Trevor Daley smacked the puck into the Caps’ bench and got a delay of game penalty. Then he went away for awhile.

While he was chillin’ on the bench, the Stars successfully killed of a power play. Then they turned around and let Fedorov get his second goal of the night. This goal made him the record holder for Russian goal scoring with 470-something goals. Semin and Brooks Laich got the assists. Again, I reviewed it. Niskanen lost a possession battle on the boards, allowing the puck to go into the Stars defensive zone. Fistric did this “I skate backwards in front of you and think that’ll make you just hand over the puck you’re skating very quickly at my goaltender with” thing that he does instead of actually trying to stop the play’s progression. He did attempt to intercept his pass to Fedorov with a poke check, but failed. The pass got through, Fedorov sped past Philippe Boucher, and popped it behind Turco, who seemed to misjudge what Fedorov planned to do completely. I blame this largely on our defense and partially on Turco.

As if we weren’t already suffering from complete momentum drain as it was, it would get worse before it got better. The Stars managed to gain possession of the puck long enough to fire off a couple shots, but it was quickly returned to the back of Turco’s net. This time it was Fleischmann again, and again assisted by Nylander. This one was easy. Turco attempted to clear the puck, it went to Nylander, got picked up by Fleischmann. The only person between him and Turco was Boucher, who went down on one knee to try and block it but failed. Once again, I ask if Turco REALLY should have let this one in. It seemed to me like he was trying too hard and moved out of position too soon.

BJ Crombeen helped patch the 4-2 wound only a few seconds later at 15:55.  This was my favorite goal of the night. Mike Modano carried the puck into the offensive zone and dropped it to Daley. Daley carried it to the net (yes, the person a dropped pass was intended for got it!) and swept it across the crease to Crombeen, who beat out a Washington defenseman for a very nice tip-in.

In a slightly pathetic attempt to shift momentum, or possibly just out of frustration, Krys Barch returned to our attention here with a bang. He did so by taking on Donald Brashear in a fist fight that he really really lost. I’m a fan of Barch, and I was alarmed to see him skate off the ice completely, slightly bloodied, after this confrontation. Both parties got five minute fighting majors, which Barch served almost entirely somewhere else. I assume he was getting a bandaid.

Not to be outdone, Brenden Morrow tripped up Backstrom and took a breather in the penalty box at 18:10. I think he wanted to start the third in the penalty box with almost-lookalike Barch, and he would eventually get his wish. Meanwhile, the rest of the Stars killed off the penalty successfully.

At one point, the Capitals attacked the net so fiercely that it forced Turco to make several very big, sprawling saves, and drove Boucher into attack-mode. At the end of the second, he nearly got into it with Ovechkin, appearing to grab him by the face or neck and shoving him out of Turco’s crease. Officials jumped in before either could earn penalties.

Second intermission involved human bowling, a Razor-Boucher interview I couldn’t hear, cotton candy, and a bottle of water.

Stars started the third period at 4-3.

Barch returned looking nice and healthy and spent 10 seconds in the penalty box with Morrow. Probably picking up how-to-fight-right tips.

I’d been getting frustrated with Loui Eriksson by this point, as he seemed to be turning over the puck a lot. There’s no denying the play he made not even a minute into the period, though, when he tied the game up again for Dallas.

Mike Ribeiro had just finished melting the ice in the neutral zone with a sizzling dash into their offensive zone and took it behind the net to evade Washington’s defensemen. He ricocheted it out in front of the net, where Eriksson swept by and quickly shot it in past Theodore at 00:56.

Granted, it only took the Capitals a few minutes to answer. At 2:22, Tyler Sloan got a wrist shot past Turco, with assists from Viktor Kozlov and Ovechkin. Grossman tried multiple times to shake Washington off the puck, but was unsuccessful. In the end, both Turco and the puck went in the net.

The following ten minutes were very tense. They brought about a new nickname “Really Richards” because we kept finding ourselves going “Really, Richards?” every time he turned a puck over or made a bad pass or missed a pass or otherwise giftwrapped it for the Capitals. Also playing sloppy were Sean Avery and Fabian Brunnstrom, who kept falling down. There were penalties on Ovechkin and Semin, but Washington’s PK beat off our PP.

Then at 15:26, in our epic struggle to force overtime, Sean Avery stuck his stick in someone’s face and got a two minute for hi-sticking. If I’d been anywhere near the penalty box, I probably would have yelled at him. No joke.

Luckily, this time, our PK beat off their PP. Not only that, our PK had so much hustle that Toby Petersen managed a shorthanded breakaway. It was stopped, and both the play and the hustle continued.

Just when all hope seemed lost, Marty Turco (cough, finally) left the net and put on an extra attacker with a minute left to go. It didn’t take long. Veteran, all-star, superstar, rockstar Mike Modano came through big time at 19:03 when he received a pass from behind-the-net Morrow and shoveled it right in to tie the game 5-5. Oh, Mo, we love you so.

Regulation ended. Overtime began.

Stars had possession for maybe two minutes, getting a couple shots off. Then, Semin swept around Turco’s net with the puck, barely contested. Daley stood in his shooting lane, possibly screening Turco? and Semin got the game-winning goal. Boyd Gordon and Green got the assists.

Notes:

  • The game’s three stars, in order: Fedorov, Modano, Semin.
  • Marty Turco let in 6 goals on 30 shots for a bland .800 sv%. His total GAA is now stinking it up again at 4.26.
  • Robidas led the team in TOI with 27 minutes.
  • James Neal led in hits, with 5.
  • Mike Modano led in shots on goal (6) and +/- (+2)
  • Conclusion: Finishing with an OT loss seems to be describing our entire season so far. We try and try and yet something doesn’t connect right in the end. I think that the young defense is looking to Turco to lead them, and he’s not coming through. Time to test out Baby T yet?
Official SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: minus-two for being partially responsible for a goal and one for attempting to make up for it in the end; -1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for being the only defensemen who didn’t screw up in this game; +3
Matt Niskanen: minus-two for not playing well when we needed strong defense; -2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist, minus-two for some defensive stupidity, and one for the final hustle in the third; +1
Mike Modano: three for the goal, two for each assist, and one for forcing OT; +8
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist and one for having some nice hits; +5
Krys Barch: two for the fight, minus-one for losing it, and one for perseverance in the game; +2
Sean Avery: three for the goal, two for the assist, minus-two for sloppy play, and minus-two for getting a dumb penalty at a crucial time; +1
Toby Petersen: one for the breakaway: +1
James Neal: two for leading in hits, minus-one for some lame giveaways; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal, two for the assist, and minus-two for otherwise being sloppy; +3
Mark Fistric: one for showing a little improvement, minus-two for still playing like a giant oaf; -1
Marty Turco: three for the huge saves made during PK and minus-one for each bad goal he let in; -1
Philippe Boucher: three for the shots he blocked, minus-two for those he didn’t, and one for the confrontation with Ovechkin; +2
BJ Crombeen: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for being the best rookie out there; +6
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for not being sloppy; +3
Brad Richards: minus-two for sloppy, minus-one for losing so many faceoffs, and minus-one for having so little positive impact; -4
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, one for effort, minus-two for sloppy; +2

October 24, 2008

Game Review – 10/23/08 (DAL at NYI)

by Chelsea

Game:

Last night, everyone tuned in to watch the Dallas Stars take on the New York Islanders in New York for what would become (as Razor said) a public flogging of the Islanders.

I can tell you two reactions I had at the beginning of the game. One was “Why do the Islanders look like a barely-blue version of the Flyers?”. The other was “Morrow and Ribeiro together!!!!”

I never watch Islanders games, and was under the assumption that their jerseys were actually blue. Not “blue if you tilt your head and look closely” blue. But yeah, the fact that they finally reunited the best bromance to ever hit hockey overshadowed that a little. No, I’m not biased.

Anyway…

When Islander Kyle Okposo took a penalty for sandwiching Sean Avery between himself and another Islander with excessive force (read: roughing), we did something we hadn’t done in many games.

We scored in the first five minutes, on a power play. We took the lead and held on tight.

Rather, Loui Eriksson did, 3:30 into the first. Only his second of the season, Louibot took a nice feed from Ribeiro to produce a tip-in that slid right past New York goalie Dipietro.

Pausing here to note how extremely happy Loui looked after scoring. It was like a little kid on hockey Christmas. His happy (and his goal) made us happy.

It began to look like a one-goal game, with both teams playing well defensively and both netminders producing walls across the pipes. For ten minutes, nothing happened. Then at 14:13 Mike Ribeiro strode into their offensive zone and passed the puck across Dipietro to nobody, and for a moment I wondered if he was imagining hockey players, until Brenden Morrow came charging up to catch the pass and tip it in behind poor Ricky. Stephane Robidas got the other assist.

Anyone get chills and wonder if they’d traveled back in time to the 07-08 playoffs?

There was more celebration, Morrow said “Yeah!” or “Nice pass!” to Ribeiro and we all agreed entirely.

If you were thinking, “Wow! This just couldn’t get any better!” you’d be wrong.

At 16:22, Sean Bergenheim of the New York Islanders took a two-minute minor for holding. Once again, Stars were on power play. Once again, Loui Eriksson stepped in to capitalize where we need it most – special teams. At 18:22 (a second too late to be a PP goal, but the PP is definitely what fueled it), Mike Ribeiro once again proved to us all that his lack of impact before had merely been punishment for having separated him from captain Brenden Morrow. He earned his third assist in three goals in the first period when he again directed the puck to Eriksson, who backhanded it across the goal line and into the net.

That’s how the first ended. Islanders were in a 3-0 hole and Marty Turco had kept them there by stopping nine out of nine shots.

The first intermission came and went.

The Stars opened the first with a lovely 5-on-3… in the Islanders’ favor. Stephane Robidas took a minor for kneeing, and Sean Avery took two minors for roughing (James Neal to serve the second). The situation was something like this:

Robidas knees someone, who goes down in a fit of complaints and whining. A handful of his teammates jump Robi – who doesn’t much go for fights – so Sean Avery, Nicklas Grossman, and Brad Richards come tearing over to back him up. Two guys take on Avery, so Fabian Brunnstrom comes over and gently redirects one. Turco wanders by. An official emerges with Robidas while Grossman shoulders two guys at once.

In the end, one of our best penalty killers and our chirpiest agitator ended up together in the penalty box for a full two minutes. Only one of the Islanders suffered consequences, Bergenheim, who got two minutes for roughing also. We get a quick view of the box, where Avery is making a gesture to Robidas that suggests he was saying “It’s alright, I’m in here all the time!” while Robidas looks like he’s going to die a little with every passing second.

Again, to quote Ralph and Razor, this was quite possibly just what the Stars defense needed. They fought through the 5-on-3 as a team and came out successful.

There was a lot of confusion (at one point, Neal and Avery and Boucher were all in the box together?) when Philippe Boucher got a penalty at 2:40 for cross-checking. Furthering the confusion was a 4-on-4, when Mike Cromrie took a minor for too many men on the ice. In the end, we resumed evenhanded play still at 3-0.

It would be Bill Guerin who’d crack the 3-0 egg for the Islanders. He swept through the Stars defensive zone at 10:16 in the second and turned a pass from Bergenheim into a goal against Turco. The Stars, however, would soon retaliate.

Three minutes later at 13:05, Krys Barch claimed the game winning goal for Dallas when he converted some nice moves by the Ribeiro-Morrow pairing into another tally on the scoreboard. Ribeiro dropped the puck behind him, where Morrow picked it up and sent it to Barch. Before the Islanders had even registered the exchange, it was in the net.

Sean Bergenheim caved in to Avery’s incessant chirping once again at 17:32, getting himself another two minutes in the box for roughing. It was an opportunity that the Islanders surely regretted giving to the Stars. At 18:27, Mike Ribeiro FINALLY got a goal for himself. After getting an assist on each of the night’s four goals, he got his first goal of the season on the power play, off a set-up from Brenden Morrow and Mike Modano.

The second ended at 5-1.

In the second intermission, Mike Ribeiro took a moment to give an interview. In it, he said that he felt the 5-0 shutout loss was the best game he’d had personally, and that the change we saw in tonight’s game came from an attitude change. He explained that he’d been frustrated for awhile, and was able to put that aside to think positively. I’m thinking he should give a lecture on that to the rest of the Stars.

Also: Nice crazy hair, Ribs. Please don’t buzzcut it.

Third period was not as exciting for us in that we didn’t score. It was exciting in that Loui Eriksson kept almost scoring and we kept hoping for a hat trick. It was not exciting in that it only took Mark Fistric 2:02 to trip someone and get himself a minor penalty. It was exciting in that it gave us two minutes without having to watch Mark Fistric.

It was not exciting in that it was that power play that gave the Islanders their second goal. At 3:28, Mark Streit scored. Assists went to Trent Hunter and Doug Weight.

It continued to be both exciting and not exciting. Dough Weight was called for elbowing at 10:16, then Boucher for interference at 16:55, then Mark Streit at 17:34 for boarding. Neither teams scored on any of those power plays.

With three seconds left in the game, unfortunately marring Turco’s sv% for the night, Jon Sim scored for the Islanders to make it 5-3. Assists went to Mark Streit and Bruno Gervais.

Still, it was a great game, and gave the Stars another 2 points on the season standings. They’re coming home with an overall successful road trip, 2-1-0. Tomorrow, they face the Capitals here at the AAC.

Kristine and I will absolutely be there.

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game were, in order: Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow.
  • Turco made 24 saves on 27 shots for a .888 Sv%. His GAA is now 4.04.
  • Mike Ribeiro now once again leads the Stars in points, with 9 for the season. His 5-point game marked a career high.
  • Philippe Boucher led in ice time with 25 minutes and tied with Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas for shifts with 29.
  • Stephane Robidas led in hits, with 4.
  • Krys Barch took Islander Brendan Witt out of the game with a knee-to-knee collision. A shot to the Islander bench showed Witt in quite a bit of pain, and later he left the game completely. Best wishes to you, Witt.
  • The Stars once again led in faceoffs, winning 62%.
  • Conclusion: You know that feeling you get when you’ve been gone awhile and you’re headed back and catch a glimpse of your home town from a distance? That “aww, I’m almost home!” feeling? That’s what this game felt like.

Official SHR +/-:

Nicklass Grossman: two for backing up Robi in the conflict and minus-one for having a team-low of -2 in the +/-; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the hit and following conflict, minus-one for not fighting back really, two for the assist, and one for leading in hits; +4
Matt Niskanen: one for nice hustle; +1
Trevor Daley: two for good defense and two for the adorable kiss-on-the-helmet he gave Turco in the post-game congratulations; +4
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist, three for the goal, and two for being awesome on a line with Ribeiro again; +7
Krys Barch: three for the goal, one for the big hit, two for being fearless, and one for being incredibly versatile; +7
Sean Avery: one for each penalty drawn, two for keeping his cool again, two for backing up Robi, and minus-two for getting a double minor in backing up Robi; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal and two for looking incredibly happy for the entire game; +8
Marty Turco: three for awesome goaltending, three for big saves and staying calm under 5-on-3 pressure, and one for exchanging words with an old teammate; +7
Philippe Boucher: two for leading in SOG, one for leading in TOI and shifts, two for good defense, and one for blocking shots with weird body parts; +6
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for each assist, two for being awesome on a line with Morrow again, one for the interview, and one for style; +15

October 16, 2008

Game Review – 10/15/08 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game:

Last night, in what could be called a grudge match, we took on the Nashville Predators only four days after our 3-1 loss to them. This time, though, the Stars had the home turf advantage.

Our starting line was centered by Mike Modano, with James Neal and BJ Crombeen on his wings. Our starting defensemen were Matt Niskanen and Trevor Daley. And, of course, Marty Turco was in the net.

The puck dropped at 7:30, starting a nearly-scoreless first period. There was considerable struggle between the two teams, each fighting for possession for five minutes of uninterrupted play. When Greg Zanon (NSH) was called for hooking at 5:16, Dallas went on their first power play and almost produced their first goal. Stars captain Brenden Morrow was (apparently pushed) in the way of Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis, allowing for a goal by Loui Eriksson that was quickly reviewed and denied. No goal, and Morrow was given 2 minutes in the penalty box for goalie interference.

The Stars effectively killed off the following Predator power play. Then, it was our turn to go on power play when Shea Weber took a two minute for holding. No luck with that one either, though.

It was in the last minute of the first period, when Predator Patric Hornqvist got himself a holding penalty and put us on power play again. Modano won the faceoff, sending the puck to Ribeiro, who sent it to Robidas for a nice one-timer goal at 19:50.

And so ended the first period. I was hoping to win a signed puck, having correctly predicted that Robidas would get the night’s first goal. No luck, but yay for Robi anyway. Intermission involved more people dressed as beer taunting each other, and a moustache.

The second period was probably the most exciting second period we’ve seen so far this season. It had a wonderful start, with Mike Modano claiming the second goal of the night at 0:29. Rookies James Neal and BJ Crombeen got the assists.

The momentum of the game began to turn at 1:58, when Brenden Morrow took a penalty for elbowing. We all went “Really, elbowing?” and watched him take his walk of shame. Eight seconds before he’d be released from the box, Nashville’s Radek Bonk, with help from Martin Erat and Rich Peverley whipped past Daley and Niskanen to score on Turco.

Things worsened for the Stars when, at 9:04, the Predators scored again to tie the game. This one was an a career first for rookie Hornqvist, who was in his fourth NHL game. Assists were credited to Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

We got the first hat trick of the night when Brenden Morrow was sent to the box for a third and final time at 9:28, for hooking. I’m sure he was celebrating his penalty hat trick as he watched the team successfully kill off the Nashville power play.

Fellow SHR girl and I had only just finished noting how amazing it would be if Fabian Brunnstrom were to score in his NHL debut, following the footsteps of fellow rookie James Neal, when Brunnstrom (or as he’s affectionately known here, “Bunny”) showed us all why we’re glad that he didn’t choose Detroit.

At 11:45, Toby Petersen directed a perfect pass to Brunnstrom, who was unchallenged in front of Ellis. Brunnstrom tapped it in, breaking the 2-2 tie in our favor. Philippe Boucher got the other assist.

Two minutes later, at 13:50, Ryan Jones tied it up again. Ryan Suter and Rich Peverley got the assists.

In what would become an extremely-helpful trend, Brunnstrom once again broke the tie in favor of the Stars. At 14:13, not even three minutes after his first NHL goal, Brunnstrom scored again. This time, the assists came from Brad Richards, who passed the puck to Sean Avery, who sent it to Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom swooped in from the right of the net and popped it in past Ellis.

I think it was around here that I made a comment something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the Predators tied it so Bunny could come out and break it for a hat trick?” that earned me some not-nice glares for possibly jinxing the game. I was totally kidding, though. Besides, the second period ended without Nashville retaliating, at 4-3 Stars.

Daryl “Razor” Reaugh interviewed Brunnstrom during intermission, where he credited good passes and good timing for his two goals.

The third period started with more of the intense struggle we saw during the first two, each side piling on the penalties and neither scoring on the power play.

First was Shea Weber, who got two minutes for hooking at 1:09. Then, James Neal got his first NHL penalty at 4:36 for boarding (the guy did get his nose smashed into the glass, but it hardly seemed intentional). Toby Petersen joined him at 6:15 for another elbowing (“Really, elbowing?”). At 7:44, Shea Weber took another sit down in the box, this time for interference. Stephane Robidas tackled a Predator at 8:52 and got himself a holding penalty.

It wasn’t until after all this, at 10:59, that Nashville claimed a highly-disputable goal from under the highly-crowded Marty Turco. The official on the ice declared it a goal, but it was sent in for review. As even then they couldn’t figure out what happened to the puck, since there were about fifty people in Turco’s crease, they decided the call on the ice would stand. I might add here that Mark Fistric had about twenty chances to clear the puck from the crease, had he only realized that he was supposed to do more than stand there and get in the way. Ahem.

Goal was given to Martin Erat, with an assist from Ryan Jones.

When we passed the 15-minute mark into the third without breaking the tie, the word “overtime” traveled around the AAC in anxious murmurs. We wanted to win. We really, really wanted to win.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t delighted to see Brunnstrom hovering around the net again. We needed a tie breaker, big time.

At 16:35, Fabian Brunnstrom managed to do what only two others in NHL history had ever managed. He scored a hat trick in his NHL debut. Defenseman Nicklas Grossman delivered the puck along the boards to Brad Richards, who was behind the Nashville net. Richards, in a move of either desperation or trust, passed to Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom was in front of the net, but heavily covered by Radek Bonk (NSH) with barely room to make a move. Somehow, though, he still managed to elevate the puck and slip it in behind Ellis once again.

The crowd exploded into wild applause, and it rained hats. Fabian Brunnstrom celebrated and looked on as the Ice Girls cleaned up the ice, in what could be described as a happy shock. We cheered until we ran out of oxygen. Then we cheered more.

Brunnstrom almost broke the record for goals in an NHL game when he scored again, but he’d taken the shot right after an official had blown the whistle for stoppage of play.

Nashville called a time out here, giving us all a chance to sit in awe over Brunnstrom’s hat trick. They decided to pull their goalie and put out an extra attacker. We were not fazed.

At 19:56, Mike Modano collected the puck after a blocked attempt by the Predators to score. In true Modano fashion, he smacked it across our blue line, where it traveled uninhibited through center ice. As the Predators watched helplessly, the puck sailed with perfect accuracy into their open net. It was the icing on our victory cake.

The game ended 6-4 Stars.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Fabian Brunnstrom (DAL), Mike Modano (DAL), Martin Erat (NSH)
  • Marty Turco played the entire game, allowing 4 goals in 19 shots for an unimpressive .785 Sv%.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom played his NHL debut, getting a hat trick. The only two other players to ever achieve this were Alex Smart of the Montreal Canadiens (1943) and Real Cloutier of the Quebec Nordiques (1979).
  • Brenden Morrow led the team in penalty minutes with 6.
  • Mike Modano was quoted as saying that playing on a line with rookies James Neal and BJ Crombeen rubbed off on him, “Sometimes youth can energize us old guys.”
  • Only three Stars were in the +/- negative for the game; Mike Ribeiro, Krys Barch, and Loui Eriksson.
  • Joel Lundqvist led the team in hits, with 8.
  • Stephane Robidas was the shift and ice time leader, with 26 shifts and 25 minutes.
  • Conclusion: The Stars finally started looking more like the team we saw in the playoffs, with a few exceptions – where’s the skill we’ve come to expect from Turco and Ribeiro?
Official SHR +/-:
Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist and two for good defense; +4
Stephane Robidas: three for the goal and two for good defense; +5
Matt Niskanen: three for having Turco’s back and good defense; +3
Trevor Daley: one for having Turco’s back; +1
Mike Modano: three for each goal, two for the assist, and two for style; +8
Brenden Morrow: two for the assist and minus-one for the penalty that NSH scored on the PP of; +1
Sean Avery: two for the assist, one for hitting someone that hit Brunnstrom, minus-four for sloppyness; -1
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist and one for energizing Modano; +3
Mark Fistric: minus-two for sloppy defense and minus-two for repeated skate-bys; -4
Marty Turco: two for some good saves and minus-two for seeming otherwise off his game again; +0
Joel Lundqvist: two for leading in hits; +2
Philippe Boucher: two for the assist and two for good defense; +4
BJ Crombeen: two for the assist and one for energizing Modano; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for each assist and one for leading in faceoff %; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for each goal and two for beautiful gameplay; +11
Off-Ice:
Mike Ribeiro: one for tossing a puck over the glass to a fan after the skate around before the game; +1
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for his interview and one for keeping the three pucks of his hat trick (see pic); +2

Bunny and his hat trick pucks