Posts tagged ‘Sean Avery’

March 19, 2009

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

by Kristine

Games:

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

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March 18, 2009

Game Day News Links

by Kristine

To help you kill some time before the late-starting game tonight, here are a few links and stories from the past couple of days.

Our very own Loui Eriksson has been featured on Pierre LeBrun’s blog on ESPN.com. Thanks to Andrew’s for the link.

Also, if you missed it, check out this video of Loui on BaD Radio on The Ticket. Some of it is pure gold.

Richard Durrett at the Dallas Morning News reports that the first goal of the game last night has been changed. James Neal will now get credit for it. It is his 23rd of the season, putting him tied with Bobby Ryan for first in rookie scoring. The stats will be updated tonight, although it appears that NHL.com’s rookie page has already been updated.

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy has an article about Sean Avery and what the whole mess says about the Stars. It mostly just quotes Heika’s post about it, but it’s worth a look.

The Stars have announced another Dr Pepper StarCenter. This one will be at Craig Ranch in McKinney and is scheduled to open in October. The official release is here.

Finally, I’ll be hanging out on Twitter during the game tonight so feel free to join me over there!

March 3, 2009

Sean Avery is a Ranger Again

by Kristine

Andrews, Heika, and TSN all report that the Rangers have claimed Avery on re-entry waivers. Congratulations, NYR. Now he’s your mess and we can wash our hands of him for good.

March 2, 2009

Weekend Review

by Chelsea

It was a disappointing weekend for the Stars (and Stars fans), who saw the season’s longest homestand end with a pair of back-to-back losses. The typical game reviews for those losses are getting lumped together here in a fabulous fowl-filled Weekend Review! 

The Good:

Mike Ribeiro spent most of Saturday looking positively pissed. He came out with the kind of determination that it takes to win games, and tried his best to drag the team behind him as he collected two goals and an assist. It says a lot when a guy from the losing team gets first star of the game. After the loss, he still looked mad, going as far as to snap at a pushy reporter. Sure, it wasn’t very nice of him, but we’d rather he be mad enough to do something rather than take part in the rest of the team’s pity party.

Sunday’s story was Loui Eriksson, who scored the Stars’ lone goal in the 4-1 drubbing from the Penguins. It took Dallas 46 minutes to get on the board, and by then it was far too late. To look at this in a positive way: Loui displayed enough determination when the game was already lost to get the puck past a hot goaltender and somewhat salvage a deflated power play. Also, Loui scoring again is just good news, if it means he’s getting over the post-Richards growing pains.

It’s probably just coincidence that the season Hull upset hockey karma by signing Sean Avery, Dallas sees the loss of Morrow and Zubov for the entire season. It’s probably also coincidence that Jere Lehtinen, Fabian Brunnstrom, Brad Richards, Landon Wilson, Toby Petersen, and Steve Ott all missed/are missing big chunks of time with injury. And it’s probably also coincidence that Marty Turco has spent most of the season being some goalie that can’t play nearly as well as Marty Turco. And it’s probably just a coincidence that the Stars went from basement to playoff-possible following his removal from the team. Regardless, we’re taking the news that Avery has been put on recall waivers today and will be gone after 24 hours as very very good news. 

The Bad:

Trevor Daley passes Loui Eriksson the puck when he’s in a vulnerable position, and Eriksson gets smushed by Sheldon Brookbank. Daley tries to make up for it by fighting Brookbank and ends up with 17 penalty minutes. Ducks score on the following power play. 

Then Daley comes back and takes two more minor penalties in the game vs. Anaheim. His issues continue against Pittsburgh, and he left the weekend with 23 more PIM than he started with.

Evgeni Malkin introduced his elbow to Darryl Sydor’s head and got away with it. Seconds later, Krys Barch got called for holding, and Malkin scored on the power play.

Stars outshot their opponents 54-41 over the two games, and still lost 8-4. This could be partially attributed to Marty Turco being mentally asleep, as he let in 4 goals on 18 shots against the Ducks. When he got a break Sunday, the Stars responded by giving backup Tobias Stephan little to no support. 

Fabian Brunnstrom ended the Ducks game having not gotten a point in his last four games, and with an even +/- in that span, despite putting out tremendous effort during the homestand. He was benched on Sunday. This didn’t really explain why James Neal, who has had no points in his last 7 games, is a -5 in his last four, and whose overconfidence led directly to at least one goal, still got to play.

The Ugly:

Steve Ott pisses off the entire Anaheim team, who responded with a good ol’ fashioned mugging after the final buzzer. The Stars kinda half-heartedly tried to help out. After the game, Robidas seemed extremely sorry for having let Moen beat Ott’s face in, but Modano seemed to think Ott should have known better than to pick the fight in the first place.

Then, Sunday against the Penguins, Malkin gets away unchallenged with a headshot on Sydor. While you’d expect someone to come to the defense of their veteran player, nobody rose to the occasion. After the game, Sydor seemed rather appalled at the lack of camaraderie as he held an ice pack to the back of his head.

The Stars went into a 6-game homestand sitting on top of a playoff-hopeful log jam. They won their first game… and then went on their worst losing streak of the year to finish it up. 2 out of a possible 12 points saw them straight to the bottom of that log jam.

SHR +/-:

Stéphane Robidas: two for the assist, one for playing a ridiculous 30:05 Saturday, but minus-one for apparent exhaustion that lead to poor defense Sunday; +2
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal and one for actually utilizing his size; +4
Trevor Daley: minus-three for the very bad weekend but one for at least trying to make up for his mistake by defending Eriksson; -2
Mike Modano: two for the assist but minus-one for his complete lack of impact against the Ducks; +1
James Neal: minus-three because we are just fed up with his nonchalant overconfident attitude and bazillion turnovers; -3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist and one for actually having a good game Saturday; +3
Mark Fistric: two for getting 13 hits in the two games; +2
Steve Ott: two for each assist but minus-one for the stupidity surrounding his suspension; +3
Tobias Stephan: one for a valiant effort; +1
Marty Turco: minus-two for urrrggg not this againnnn; -2
Steve Bégin: two welcome-to-the-team points; +2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and one for showing that veteran leadership everyone keeps talking about; +3
Mike Ribeiro: three for each goal, two for the assist, and one for having 10 shots on goal and 5 hits over the two games; +9
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for effort and one spite point because he really shouldn’t have been benched over Neal; +2

February 10, 2009

Sean Avery is Closer to Being a Ranger Again

by Kristine

As the Sean Avery Saga continues, Mike Heika and Andrew’s report that Avery has officially been assigned to the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, the Hartford Wolf Pack. This should surprise absolutely nobody who has been keeping even a guarded eye on this story. As soon as the news that Avery was almost done with his therapy hit the internet, and Dallas placed him on waivers almost immediately after his release from treatment, rumors began circling and predictions began popping up that the Wolf Pack would be the most likely place to find him in the following weeks. Avery clearing waivers on Monday added fuel to that fire, and today hockey journalists around the country were proven right. Is the next step the same one every thinks it is? Is a Ranger homecoming in the works for Sean Avery? It does seem that way.

The official release is here.

February 8, 2009

Game Review – 2/03/09 (DAL vs CGY)

by Chelsea

Mr. Clever Clown Holds A Meeting: 

 It was a typical morning in Calgary, and Mr. Clever Clown and his teammates were preparing for their hockey game that night. Some sort of inspiration struck Mr. Clever Clown and he called over cameras and reporters and media and press until their attention was all his. 

His teammates and coach didn’t know what to expected as they gathered around, only that Mr. Clever Clown had previously displayed a penchant for troublesome behavior. As all tuned in for his impromptu press conference, he shocked his audience with a most vulgar phrase. 

While viewers quickly deciphered “sloppy seconds”, Commissioner Gary Bettman scrambled to shield his daughter from the statement as he mashed his “Insta-Suspension” panic button. The footage was promptly distributed across the internet, where his choice of words gained immediate infamy. Instead of playing in that evening’s game, Mr. Clever Clown was issued hockey’s version of a restraining order. Without his detrimental presence, his suddenly  ex-team thrived and persevered to a 3-1 win, signaling the start of their climb out of the league basement.

The Sans-Sean Era:

Though it was only a matter of days until word began to leak out about Sean Avery’s unwillingness to cooperate and be sociable with the team, his absence had a much more immediate effect. The Stars won their game in Calgary looking visibly relieved, the most notable play being that of goaltender Marty Turco. He made a season-high 36 saves to keep the Flames at only one goal, demonstrating a focus that we hadn’t seen since the spring playoff run.

The win marked the beginning of what we like to call the Sans-Sean Era. It bookmarked the beginning of their much-improved December month in which Dallas climbed out of the basement and back into playoff contention. More importantly, though, the Stars seemed to enjoy playing again. 

Though they started that game against the Flames on December 2nd in the lead, they reached a point early in the third in which the October or November Stars would have conceded momentum when the other team scored to tie the game. Instead, they dug in their heels and came out with the resolve needed to net another two goals and win the game 3-1. 

Now we see the end of the Sans-Sean Era as it closes with a mirror-image game against the Flames. The score again ended 3-1 in the Stars’ favor, and they again showed the resolve necessary to overcome what could have been a deflating goal and lock it down before they could score another. The win came at the end of a five-game win streak this time, almost exactly two months after the first one.

This time, instead of reading about Sean Avery’s suspension in the following days, Stars fans were reading about Avery’s release from his therapy program when it was announced that he’d be cleared to play and put on waivers. Instead of wondering whether his removal from the team would lead to improvement, they can look back on the results and know that it did. 

During the two months after the Avery incident, the Stars continued to improve, rising all the way out of the worst spot in the league into the top half. The constant line-shuffling has since stopped, and the current match-ups have built an impressive chemistry. Also impressive is the improved play of Turco, whose only goal against during the January 3rd Calgary game was during the Flames’ first power play. 

While it’s debatable whether or not it was actually Avery being a cancer removed or just the team bonding in the face of adversity, the fact is that he isn’t even being allowed to return and skate or work out with the team. That alone speaks volumes.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Turco, Kiprusoff, Richards
  • The Stars outshot the Flames 32-25. 
  • Jere Lehtinen, James Neal, and Brad Richards each scored. Richards and Neal each also had an assist. Loui Eriksson, Steve Ott, Matt Niskanen, and Mike Ribeiro all also had an assist.
  • Ribeiro, Ott, and Lehtinen all continued five-game point streaks.
  • The power play scored twice, going 2-for-5. The PK was 2-for-3.
  • Conclusion: No matter the reason or cause, the Stars are playing like Stars again. Jere Lehtinen is back to being healthy Lehtinen again. Steve Ott continued doing his best Brenden Morrow impression, filling in for him on the line that was so lethal in the spring. Turco has stopped impersonating Vesa Toskala and started acting like Turco again. Now the key is all in the consistency. 

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: one for delivering a second-best five hits; +1
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: one for winning 75% of his faceoffs; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for leading in SOG; +6
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for leading in blocked shots; +3 
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist and one for leading in hits; +3
Marty Turco: three for the good game; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for the assist, but minus-one for leading in GV; +4

January 17, 2009

SHR +/- Midseason Report

by Kristine

Now that the half-way mark of the season (the Monday game vs Detroit) has passed, and the SHR +/- has been updated to it, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at some trends and numbers.

Let’s start by looking at where everyone is at the 41 game mark.

Skater +/- Skater +/- Skater +/-
Grossman +37 Eriksson +98 Parrish +27
Robidas +76 Wilson +25 Lundqvist +16
Niskanen +42 Wandell +6 Boucher +31
Daley +52 Conner +14 Janik +8
Modano +76 Lehtinen +21 Crombeen +26
Morrow +57 Hutchinson +6 Sydor +7
Barch +52 Fistric 0 Zubov +18
Avery -42 Ott +49 Ribeiro +94
Petersen +24 Stephan +23 Richards +67
Neal +85 Janik +8 Brunnstrom +53
Sutherby +3 Turco +46

Obviously, some players have been way outshining others. Some big names – Mike Ribeiro, Stephane Robidas, Mike Modano, and Brad Richards – sit at or near the top, like you would expect. The top also holds a few surprises, with Loui Eriksson holding down the top spot and James Neal breaking into the top 5 early and staying there.

While the top ten or so spots in our plus/minus seem to be pretty accurate, the bottom is a little bit harder to judge. It’s kind of cluttered by people who were call-ups or are no longer Stars, like Tom Wandell or BJ Crombeen. It also doesn’t take into account injured players like Jere Lehtinen, Sergei Zubov, and Joel Lunqvist. If you take away those people, and only count players who are currently playing or have played more than ten games with us, the picture becomes a bit more clear. Darryl Sydor has only earned 7 points with us, Doug Janik is at + 8, and Andrew Hutchinson is +6. Toby Peteresen, at +24, has the lowest +/- to games played ratio. These numbers are fairly on par with our actual feelings about the players.

If you divide number of games with a negative +/- update by total games with updates (since not every player earns or loses points in every game), three players come out with 0%: Brenden Morrow, Fabian Brunnstrom, and Crombeen. Morrow and Brunnstrom each had 17 updates, and Crombeen had 10, and none of them earned negative marks in any of them. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Eriksson comes out on top after that, with only 1 of 26 updates in the negative (a -1 on Dec 12 for “struggling offensively and defensively), for 3.8%. The other players to wind up with less than 10% of their updates as negatives are Krys Barch (5%), Robidas (7%), Neal (8%), and Landon Wilson (10%). On the other end of the spectrum, and again no surprise, 56% of Sean Avery’s updates were negative. After him is Marty Turco, with 28% of his 32 updates being negatives. The only other players to end up with 25% or more of their updates being in the negative are Nicklas Grossman (25%) and Sydor (27%).

Loui Eriksson had a hot streak from October 22 to December 2, earning at least one point in sixteen straight games. The only person to come close to that is Ribeiro, with positive points in twelve games from October 18 to November 15. Eriksson has earned more than five points in seven of his 26 updates, and joins Neal, Mark Parrish, Richards, and Brunnstrom as the only players to earn more than 10 points in one game, with each of them earning 11 points once.

However, the record for most points earned in one game goes to Mike Ribeiro, who earned 15 points October 23 against the Islanders. It’s worth noting that while most of the players with 11 points earned them via hat tricks, Ribbons earned his 15 via one goal, a few assists, style, and being awesome with Morrow. The record for most points taken away in one game goes to Avery, who lost 50 points on December 2. Actually, he technically lost them last night, when we decided that his current -12 did not match up with our feelings about him. He had previously and initially lost 20 for the comment and the following stupidity, and yesterday we assigned him -15 for treating the Stars badly before the comment and -15 for ruining the Stars while he was here. Both are retroactive to the day of the comment, making him -50 for that day. Hey, it’s our plus/minus – we can adjust as we see fit. 😉 Aside from that debacle, the most points we’ve taken away in one game was 6, also from – shocking! – Sean Avery. If you pretend he was never a Star, which we like to do anyway, the most we’ve ever taken away in one game was four. That has happened to multiple players, multiple times. Obviously we’re much more generous for people who do good things than we are anxious to take points away from people.

It’s interesting to note that nobody has hit 100 points yet, although Eriksson is only two points away and Ribeiro is only four away. It’s also worth noting that Morrow hit 52 points in only 15 games. Had he continued at that rate, he would have hit 100 points ten games ago.

Let’s take a look at averages. Once again, we have Louibot at the top with an average of +4 points per game. Under him, averaging +3, are a ton of people. In no particular order: Neal, Parrish, Morrow, Crombeen, Modano, Brunnstrom, Philippe Boucher, Steve Ott, Tobias Stephan, Ribeiro, Lundqvist, and Wilson. The only person with a negative average is Avery with -2. Another real shocker in that one, hmm? Mark Fistric averaged evenly in his short time here, and Turco, Petersen, Matt Niskanen, Janik, Grossman, Hutch, and Brian Sutherby all averaged +1. The rest of the players averaged a middle-of-the-road but still good +2.

If you divide a player’s total number of games with SHR +/- updates by the number of games he’s played as a Star in the first half of the season, you can see who we consider a difference-maker and who is mostly invisible to us. At the top of that chart is Tobias Stephan, who has earned points in eight games despite only actually playing in seven. 😛 More accurate are the numbers for Mike Ribeiro, who has registered an update in 35 of 41 games, or 85%. Turco also makes a difference – although often a negative one – with points assigned to or taken away from him in 84% of his 32 games played. Morrow, when he was around, got positive numbers in 83% of the games he played in (and 0% negatives, as we mentioned before). Also registering highly was Zubov, who received an update in 8 of the 10 games he played in this season. At the bottom we have the people who don’t make much of a difference either way. The worst is Hutchinson, who has shown up in the plus/minus only five times in the 17 games he’s played in as a Star, which comes out to 29%. Barely above him is Parrish with an update in only 30% of the games he’s played with us. Brian Sutherby has only made waves three times in his 10 games, but we’ll cut him some slack and say he’s still getting comfortable here.

Finally, let’s narrow our view to the L10 games played. That takes us back to December 20. I think it can be agreed that the Stars showed vast improvement in the 2nd quarter, so how do things shape up in the plus/minus when you look only at the most recent games? A few players have really bought their A-game, notably Niskanen, Neal, and Otter. All three of them have registered positive updates in at least five games and a negative update only once each. On the other side of things, Robidas has received his only two negative updates in the L10 for a string of games in which he played frustrated and took unnecessary penalties. In the meantime, Hutchinson has updates in only three of the L10, despite playing in all of them, and two of Sydor’s five updates were negatives. Mike Modano has also had a rough, slightly quieter L10, earning negative updates in three games, nothing in four games, and positive updates in three games. On the whole, however, the number show that the team continues to step up and improve.

Overall, it’s pretty obvious that it’s King Loui tearing up the SHR +/- charts this season. If he continues to have a breakout season, his final report for the 08-09 season will look pretty damn good. Same goes for Ribeiro, Neal, Modano, and Lehtinen. It’s also interesting to note that while our top five all register at least 75 points, and the bottom five only register 10 or fewer points, the overall average is only 35 points. There’s actually a 71-point difference between Eriksson’s team-leading 98 points and Parrish, who is the team median with 27 points. I can appreciate that we have some people stepping it up in a big way, but I’d like to see more support from the rest of the roster in the second half of the season. We’re a few games into it as I post this and it’s looking like we might see some more shake-ups as the season continues. Good luck on the second half, Stars!

The SHR +/- page is updated after every game and includes a full roster, as well as the current top and bottom five players. Check it out by clicking here, or find it in the header links any time.

December 14, 2008

Sean Avery is a Fallen Star

by Kristine

” Avery Will Not Rejoin The Dallas Stars” – that’s the headline of the official press release out of the front office this morning.

“All parties said there is a clear understanding that a return to the Stars is not in the best interest of either the hockey club or Avery.”

The release does not say what their plans for him are, except that they aren’t going to challenge his contract and that he is going to continue counseling. No matter what, I bet there’s a collective sigh of relief from the players and fans. This is what people expected, but it’s good to hear it straight from the club.

December 12, 2008

Game Review – 12/10/08 (DAL vs PHX)

by Chelsea

Game:

There was an indiscernible good feeling going into this game. The Avery situation was being dealt with, we had a new center and an actual fourth line in Swedish import Tom Wandell, and were coming off a slight but much-needed win against Colorado.

Of course, assuming you know how the game ended, that good feeling did not bring us the start of a winning streak. Instead, it was quickly converted into a grimace-inducing loss.

The first period started with a bit of hope. Rookie James Neal spent some time exchanging hits with Todd Fedoruk, a big hitter with nearly 40 pounds on Neal. Fedoruk, who did not register points, but made an effort to be a giant physical pain all night.

Shortly after, the first of many unnecessary penalties was taken, by Coyote Zbynek Michalek, at 2:04 for sending the puck over the glass. Whoops.

The two minutes passed with the Stars only getting 1 shot on goal, from RW Mark Parrish. How many times do they have to be told to shoot the puck on the man advantage?

The PP did give Dallas strong momentum, though, and it turned into points shortly after Phoenix returned to full strength.

The production came from a fast, well-orchestrated play from Chris Conner to  Toby Petersen, and then from Petersen to Trevor Daley.  Daley took a shot off from the faceoff circle left of Bryzgalov that rang off the post and into the net, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead 4:34 into the first. I believe, though I’m not entirely positive, that it was the first goal from a Dallas defenseman since Matt Niskanen scored on October 29th against the Minnesota Wild.

Darryl Sydor joined in the fun at 4:50, flipping the puck off the ice and getting 2 minutes for it.

Phoenix captain Shane Doan pretty much dominated that PP, nearly scoring on Turco and doing his best to squash Mike Ribeiro. No PPG for them, though. Towards the end of the PK, Loui Erikkson got a scoring opportunity against Bryzgalov, unfortunately stopped.

Not even three minutes after taking an early lead, the Stars saw it slip away. At 7:19, Martin Hanzal wreaked some emotional havoc for the first of two times in the game. With half of the Stars on the ice getting tricked and confused behind the net, and Turco unable to slid across his crease fast enough, Hanzal slid the puck barely between Turco and the post to tie the game. Unlucky Breaks Tally (things that, had they not happened, would have kept Dallas from being a crumbly mess): 1.

Viktor Tikhonov and Zbynek Michalek with assists.

Brad Richards got all flustered or something? Got his second regular season penalty as a Star for holding the stick at 8:10. D’oh! Richards. Do I directly blame him for the following goal? No, but only because penalties are so rare from him. Otherwise, well, you can’t get scored on during the PK if you don’t have guys in the box to begin with.

At 9:49, Olli Jokinen, returning to the lineup for the first time since his shoulder injury, tipped a puck in past Turco from a blue line shot by Ed Jovanovski. Second assist went to Derek Morris.

However, not even a minute later (10:26), Mikkel Boedker got a holding penalty on Chris Conner and put the Stars on a critical power play.

The game was re-tied shortly after, during the consequential power play, when James Neal found himself with a puck and a partially open net. Stephane Robidas faked a shot, drawing Bryzgalov out of position, only to pass the puck to Neal, who steadied it and put it in the net.

The goal came at 10:58, with Mike Modano getting the second assist.

There were four more penalties in the first. Tikhonov got a hooking minor for the Coyotes. Andrew Hutchinson got the third delay of game penalty for the Stars. Then, Enver Lisin and Derek Morris took back-to-back cross checking penalties. Despite all the man advantages and a 5-on-3 in favor of the Stars, the score remained tied exiting the first.

Somewhere in here, Stephane Robidas took a puck/stick (I believe it is the latter, but have heard it was the former) in the mouth, leaving plenty of blood on the ice and would not return until midway through the second period. Anyone know for sure how it happened?

Second period.

Started on a power play. Then, at 3:13, got another one when Lisin got two minutes for hooking Sydor. Shockingly, the Stars did not score on their power play.

In typical Stars fashion, as two minutes is not enough time for them to convert momentum into scoring, the goal came a little bit later.

It was off another fast play from a lower line (Brunnstrom-Petersen-Conner, I believe?) that led to Conner setting up Fabian “Tiebreaker Bunny” Brunnstrom out in front of the net. And so the tie was broken. 3-2 Stars at 8:35 in the second, Conner and Sydor with the assists.

Things went pretty well for awhile after that, despite a couple untimely penalties and pathetic power plays. Trevor Daley, who saved a goal somewhere in the first by backing up Turco and clearing the puck from his crease, would eat any points he would have earned by taking a stupid penalty that changed the momentum of the game.

Basically, Daniel Carcillo, who had been in the box for knocking over Turco who totally sold it as goalie interference by being really easy to knock over, managed to sneak out of the sin bin with remarkable timing. Daley, who let Carcillo sneak up and grab the puck between him and Turco without even realizing, suddenly found himself chasing a possibly problematic breakaway. So, what did he do? He tried to chop Carcillo down like a tree by slashing him in the legs. Thus, setting up the Coyotes for a power play of their own.

Jokinen, on PP fire, made sure to punish Daley thoroughly. At 19:56 in the third, during a frantic PK that was barely holding on to their team’s lead, Marty Turco was thrown horribly out of position and left a gaping net for Jokinen, who took full advantage. Jovanovski and Mueller got the assists.

Second period ended with a major blow, and a loss of momentum not to be regained.

Third period. Mm. That fuse that the ‘Yotes lit in the second? It’d set off a big time explosion not too long after.

Only five minutes in, Turco left his crease to retrieve the puck, hitting it around the boards behind his net. As he slowwllly wannddered back to his crease, the puck bounced oddly and unfortunately off Daley’s stick. Unlucky Breaks Tally: 2. The puck hopped out eagerly in front of the net, where Martin Hanzal just so happened to be. While Matt Niskanen dived out in front of the still-empty net, Hanzal had no trouble getting it past him, and it suddenly became a chasing game again.

I timed it. Is there any reason it takes Turco 6 seconds to get from the board to his net? We saw Tobias Stephan move from the crease to the bench in about 2 seconds. Come on, Turco, would a little hustle kill you? Ergggg. Even Niskanen saw it coming and thought fast enough to try and stop it.

The goal came at 5:21 and was unassisted (and giftwrapped. Merry Christmas!).

The Stars tried to fight back unsuccessfully. Neal got a little violent and took his anger out on Carcillo, much to our delight. Carcillo, meet Neal; Carcillo, meet ice.

As the clock wound down, the Stars (very stupidly – do they watch their own PPs?) went empty net. The puck bounced through center ice soooon after, Steven Reinprecht picked it up, Robidas was the nearest Star and still all the way across the ice. He couldn’t catch up, Reinprecht has enough skill to score in an empty net, and it was 5-3 Coyotes.

Goal was at 19:36, with assists to Shane Doan and Ilya Bryzgalov.

Notes:

  • Three game stars, in order: Jokinen, Neal, Hanzal
  • Despite missing a large chunk of the game getting stitched up, and spending the rest occassionally dripping blood onto the ice, Stephane Robidas led the team in TOI with 25:14.
  • Speaking of Robidas, he also tied with Toby Petersen for most SOG (4), tallied an assist, and ended the game even in +/-.
  • James Neal led the team in takeaways (3) and Grossman and Daley tied for most blocked shots with 4 each.
  • Brad Richards had the worst +/- at -3, tallied no points, and only got 1 SOG in over twenty minutes of ice time.
  • Turco stopped 29 of 33 shots for a .879 sv%.
  • Tom Wandell made his debut, but only got six minutes and did not register any points.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for tying for the lead in hits and blocked shots; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and two for a good game despite playing with a bloody mouth; +4
Trevor Daley: three for the goal, one for the goal he prevented, minus-two for the stupid penalty, and minus-two for the goal he giftwrapped; +0
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Krys Barch: two for tying for the lead in most hits; +2
Toby Petersen: two for the assist and one for an otherwise good game; +3
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: one for his debut; +1
Chris Conner: two for each assist; +4
Marty Turco: minus-two for icky savelessness; -2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: minus-one for the team worst +/- and minus-one for the rare stupid penalty; -2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3

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.
NHL.com 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.