Posts tagged ‘Sergei Zubov’

May 9, 2009

Depiction: Remembering 08-09

by Chelsea

Kristine and I took some time to gather a collection of our favorite pictures from what is otherwise a fairly forgetful season. As the second round of the playoffs gets do-or-die (go Caps! go Canes!), we’re going to take a moment to celebrate all the Stars’ good times that got buried beneath the shame of the season’s less-than-desirable end.

______________________________________________________________________________

Opening Night vs Columbus.

You can’t help but smile at Brunnstrom’s “omgIscoredcomehugme” reaction to his NHL debut hat trick.

We started calling Grossman “Saint Nick” after seeing this picture of him and his workshop elves. Months later, it’s still a favorite.

Fistric catches up with Mittens.

While everyone was busy questioning Modano’s ability to play, he was busy proving that he could still fly.

Nobody liked seeing the Morrow-Ribeiro line broken up, so it was no surprise that their reunion brought many happy moments.

Stephan replaced Turco in a 0-5 loss to the Devils. We really wish this had happened more often at this point of the season.

He did have one good save, though.

When Zubov returned from injury on 11/7, we all celebrated. When he went out again on 11/28, it was a little heartbreaking. The 11/7 game against the Ducks was also Mark Parrish’s debut with the the Stars, in which he scored a hat trick.

Okay, so Morrow going out on 11/20 isn’t even close to a happy moment, but you can’t really look back on the season without pausing to sigh and say, “If only Morrow hadn’t gotten hurt…”

Ribs keepin’ us all entertained.

These two really should have played together more often. They both had their struggles, but they definitely make us excited for the Stars’ future.

Yes, this is a good moment. Did any of you reallllly want him in Dallas for four years?

Loui’s first NHL hat trick, against Columbus. We predict many, many more to come.

Neal’s first career hat trick, in Toronto.

Parrish says goodbye to 2008 with a nice goal, making thousands of drunk Texans really happy.

Tipp rewards Neal for a strong game by giving him his first NHL shootout attempt. He scores (awesomely) and wins the game. Everyone wows and suddenly the Stars have a new shootout specialist. By the end of the season, he’d scored on 5/7 attempts.

Go nuts? Okay!

The 2009 ASG…
…a great excuse to sit around all weekend,
watching favorite players show the rest of the league…
…that they’re just ridiculously awesome.

Not a good moment, but definitely a memorable picture.

They were discussing Valentine’s Day gifts, I’m sure.

Can’t help but wonder if Sydor looked at them and saw Lehtinen and Modano.

Swedes!

Those familiar happy feelings that come with scoring on the Sharks.

Grossman doesn’t score often, but when he does, leaping hugs will follow.

They’re like Power Rangers.

He only played a few games at the end of the season, but by the time he’d finished his first shift he’d impressed us. That cannon shot from the point never failed to amaze.

And finally…
Lehtinen warms up for the last home game of the season.

After the game, Stars waited to give their jerseys to fans.

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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

February 21, 2009

Game Review – 2/20/09 (DAL vs EDM)

by Chelsea

Game: 

We decided after this game that we wouldn’t mind meeting the Oilers in the postseason. We tend to beat them at home, Mike Modano always finds a way to stick it to them (winning 8/11 faceoffs this time), the games are generally hard-fought and entertaining, and Oilers fans aren’t giant homers that don’t know hockey. We’re 78-53-16 as a team against them all-time. That’s pretty good.

If ever there was a must-win game for both sides, it was this one. With the wins from Vancouver and Columbus, getting two points wouldn’t move anyone up any. However, losing the two points put a dangerous distance between them and the top half of the playoff-scrambling pack. Coming immediately after losing yet another key player to injury, it was good to see the Stars fully understanding the immense importance of showing up ready for battle.

There’s been a lot of talk about who will pick up the slack with Morrow, Zubov, and now Richards out, and what the future of this team is shaping up to be. Well, the future was in full display for this game.

The first goal was produced almost entirely from rookie Fabian Brunnstrom, who snatched the puck up as the Oilers fumbled it in their own zone and fought off a defenseman as he forced his way through to get it on net. Krys Barch crashed the crease just in time to finish up what Brunnstrom started. 

Raymond Sawada, playing in his first NHL game on his 24th birthday (wearing ex-Star and current Manitoba Moose Mike Keane’s #12) got the Stars’ second goal. 

Fabian Brunnstrom got the game winning goal when he was set up for a one-timer by Loui Eriksson. It was his 5th of the season in only 37 games- on pace for climbing into the top five most GWGs scored in a single season for the franchise.

While rookie James Neal was kept off the scoreboard, he made himself heard with some bone-crunching hits. Nicklas Grossman did as well, and also pinned the Edmonton captain in a scrum at the end of the game when he went after Steve Ott. In that same scrum, Mark Fistric squared off to stand up for his teammates and got enough penalty minutes to put him out of commission for the rest of the game.

Brent Krahn provided some decoration as a lovely fixture on the Stars bench as Marty Turco played his 28th consecutive start.

In all, Stars youth (Niskanen, Grossman, Fistric, Sawada, Brunnstrom, Eriksson, Neal)  provided the team with 2 goals, 2 assists, 15 hits, 8 shots on goal, 4 of the team’s 8 takeaways,  and only 1 giveaway. 

Other players who pitched in extra to make up for Richards’ absence were:

  • Trevor Daley – ended the game +1, had an assist on Sawada’s goal, and picked up extra time on the PP
  • Mike Modano – won 8/11 faceoffs and also picked up extra time on the PP
  • Krys Barch – had a 1 goal, 3 hits, and ended the game +1
  • Toby Petersen – tried out as center for Richards’ Lundy- -Loui line and lead the team in blocked shots with 3
  • Brian Sutherby – had an assist on Barch’s goal and though not credited with any hits, knocked guys off the puck multiple times to create turnovers
  • Steve Ott – was surprised with the ‘A’ that Richards had been wearing, and played an effective, solid game that included 4 hits and an assist on Lehtinen’s goal
  • Mike Ribeiro – had another multi-point night with assists on Lehtinen and Sawada’s goals.

It was the effort from the entire team that brought home the two points and kept Edmonton from gaining any ground on them in the standings. That same effort will be what secures Dallas’ place in the postseason until reinforcements arrive off IR.

Oh, and a note to people who are worried about Eriksson’s production tailspinning without Richards: 

Riberio has 6 primary assists and 3 secondary assists on Loui’s goals. Meanwhile, Richards has 3 primary and 6 secondary. Modano also has 3 assists on Eriksson goals. 

In other words, he ought to be just fine.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for the physical game, one for pulling Moreau off Ott, and one for pinning the 220 lb captain; +3
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: one for dominating the faceoff circle; +1
Raymond Sawada: three for the goal, one for the very happy birthday, and one for an otherwise solid debut game; +5
Krys Barch: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and one for being priceless; +4
Mark Fistric: one for standing up for Ott and one bonus point for the nice official who avoided the fighting-after-5-minutes-left-means-suspended-1-game rule for him by giving him a double minor instead; +2
Steve Ott: two for the assist, one for being petulant, and one for wearing the ‘A’ well; +4
Marty Turco: one for a solid performance; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist and one for the get-mad get-even mindset; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for leading in SOG, and one for an overall strong game; +7

February 17, 2009

Game Review – 2/16/09 (DAL at CBJ)

by Chelsea

Thank Yous to/from Turco and Eriksson:

Turco can thank his teammates for pumping up his numbers (41 saves on 43 shots is much more impressive than 21 on 23) and in turn, they can apologize profusely and then thank him for winning them the two points.

They can also thank Eriksson, who had another goal+assist night and basically saved the game by scoring at the tail-end of a Columbus power play to tie the game and force overtime. 

The Argument for Ribeiro As Alternate Captain: 

First, let’s reflect over all that’s happened to the lettered members of the Stars squad:

Original: Morrow (C), Modano (A), Zubov (A)
Zubov starts his season rehabbing from surgery, returns, and then is out again for the season.
Morrow plays a handful of games before suffering a season-ending injury.

The New Three: Modano (A), Robidas (A), Richards (A)
Robidas takes a puck to the face that breaks his jaw. He was only out about a week, during which Sydor wore the extra ‘A’.
Richards takes an awkward hit against the board and breaks his wrist. Out for 6-8 weeks.

Not the best of luck for team leaders, but for the sake of making a point, going to be moving past that to who will be getting the ‘A’ that Richards had.

Common sense says that Sydor will get it, because he’s a veteran that was brought in for his leadership qualities and wore it while Robidas was out. 

Nostalgia would like to see Jere Lehtinen get it, as a reward for all the hard work and dedication he’s put into the franchise. With a mammoth work ethic, very few people are better equipped to lead by example than Lehtinen.

However, curiosity wants to see Mike Ribeiro get it. Though, to borrow from Razor, he has his moments of cheekiness, he’s no doubt matured considerably since the move from Montreal. After flourishing as the top line center last year between captain Brenden Morrow and veteran Jere Lehtinen, he seemed to take the responsibility to heart. This year, he and his line lead the team to a 5-game win streak. Would he accept the ‘A’ with pride and make a point to be the team’s numero uno? I’d love to find out. The Stars have a ridiculous winning % when Ribeiro is playing with tenacity and to his full potential.

Time to Step Up:

With Morrow, Zubov, and now Richards out, it’s time to see who is really going to lead this team and who was just riding the success of others.  People to keep an eye on:

Mike Ribeiro – see above.

James Neal – People are already pegging him as the next big cog in the Stars’ leadership machine. He’s said he wants to be a guy that gets big goals… but can he be the guy who’ll go through walls and do the dirty work too?

Fabian Brunnstrom – Most of his season has seen him working to adjust to the new North American game, but he’s also been a player who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of giving up. We called him Tiebreaker Bunny before he was hurt for a reason. Can he help the Stars break the playoff race tie?
 
Loui Eriksson – He’s already started to prove himself as a goal scorer and a defensive stability, and the kind of player his teammates can always count on to give it his all. Will he be able to score those timely goals on a regular basis?

Mike Modano – He’s been captain, he’s been the face of the franchise, he’s been the record-breaker in all franchise scoring categories. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues to just relax and enjoy his veteran years, or if he gets motivated to really lead the team.

Toby Petersen – He had a streak of good games when the Stars were first struggling with injuries, but when other players started stepping up or getting healthy, he stopped being an impact player. I predict another short but good run from him.

The Three Baby D – Niskanen, Grossman, and Fistric, reunited at last. They locked it down far beyond their years to impress in the playoffs. Will we get a repeat example of what young talent and determination can do to stop the opposing forwards?

Marty Turco – We’ve seen it in the past, and we saw it last night. When Marty Turco wants to stop the puck, the puck will be stopped. However, earlier in the season, when he mentioned people needing to step up, his words fell flat because his performance was anything but. Has he finally stepped up and found the consistency that it takes to drag this team to the playoffs all by himself, if need be?

Brad Richards – Tippett’s said that Richards does best when he’s in a leadership position. How he acts while injured (Morrow’s intensity in wanting to return for the playoffs has motivated the team to reach the postseason; Richards has a similar timetable for return) and when he comes back could be very telling on whether or not he has what it takes to be a leader on this team.

SHR +/-:

Trevor Daley: two for the assist but minus-two for an otherwise especially sloppy game; +0
Krys Barch: minus-one for the penalties; -1
James Neal: two for the shootout goal; +2
Brian Sutherby: two for the assist but minus-one for the penalties; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Mark Fistric: one for a good game; +1
Marty Turco: two for the good game, one for dragging the team into OT, and one for winning it in the shootout; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist but minus-one for looking half-dead all night; +1
Brad Richards: three for the goal, one sympathy point, and one for leading in SOG despite playing less than ten minutes; +5 

January 29, 2009

Game Review – 1/27/09 (DAL vs ATL)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Atlanta Thrashers came to town in for the first time in a number of years, and were greeted by a very sparse crowd. Thanks to some especially icy weather, most Stars fans were confined to their couches and TVs. 

With both teams fully rested after the All-Star break, it seemed like both would give a good show, despite what the standings implied. 

Stephane Robidas returned from his weekend stint in Montreal sans face cage, mentioning that the probably-permanent metal plate in his jaw made it stronger than it had been before. 

Besides Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov, the only still-injured Stars are Fabian Brunnstrom, Landon Wilson, and Steve Ott. Brunnstrom was recently assigned to the Manitoba Moose for a few days, after which he’ll be returning to the Stars’ lineup finally. Wilson’s still nursing a rib injury and there’s been no timetable set for his return. Ott, of course, has been playing, but as far as we’ve heard as not been cleared to fight with his still-healing hand. 

Mark Parrish was scratched for Chris Conner, apparently because he’s coming down with the flu. Get well soon, Parrish!

A couple of nice streaks coming into this game that are worth noting: Marty Turco entered the contest with a career record of 5-0-0 against Atlanta, and Thrasher superstar Ilya Kovalchuk had never scored a goal against Dallas in the 7 times he’d faced them. 

The first period started, the teams meeting each other’s shots, hits, and puck battle wins. However, it became clear which team wanted it more when Jere Lehtinen displayed some unexpected creativity in putting the puck behind fellow-Finn and Thrashers netminder Kari Lehtonen. 

Right off the bat, the Ott-Ribeiro-Lehtinen line had the same energy that made them such a force in the Panthers game (Ribeiro with a hat trick, Ott and Lehtinen each with an assist) and it once again paid off. Only 3:48 into the first, Ott stole the puck from a Thrasher and fed it up to Ribeiro, who threw it haphazardly towards Lehtonen. Lehtonen made the save, but the puck bounced up into the chest of Jere Lehtinen and he bumped it down into the net. 

The call on the ice was a goal, and the call stood despite further review. 

There had been some question from us about why the Thrashers have had such a rough season. It seemed to us that they had more than enough talent and an experienced if unproven coach. However, when instead of rallying after the Dallas goal, they followed it with a string of giveaways and penalties, the picture was a little clearer.

When two Thrashers took penalties within 30 seconds of each other, they all but gift-wrapped another goal for the Stars. However, the power play only managed a few shots on goal, and soon it was at even strength again. 

Marty Turco positively robbed Kovalchuk of the game-tying goal at 13:14 after he was left unattended in front of the net, making a sharp and much-appreciated save to hold Dallas’ lead.

Atlanta got their first power play when Krys Barch took a penalty at 15:07 for holding, but nearly surrendered a short-handed goal to Loui Eriksson. 

The first period ended 1-0 Dallas. 

Second period began.

In the first few seconds, the official raised his arm to signify a delayed penalty against the Thrashers. However, the Stars maintained possession as Ribeiro’s line struck yet again.

Ribeiro displayed some stickhandling wizardry to keep the puck away from the Thrashers, helped by Lehtinen, long enough to complete a pass down low to Trevor Daley. As Ott moved in front of the crease and shook off Rich Peverley, Daley slid the puck out in front. Ott buried it in the net at 00:28, negating the penalty before it was ever enforced. 


With the game set at 2-0, it became a good old-fashioned goalie showdown. Lehtonen on one end, fighting to keep the game within reach for his struggling team and Turco on the other, fighting to seal his team’s second consecutive win.

Lehtonen finished the second period by backing his team through two penalty kills, holding them within reach of the Stars two-goal lead. His team didn’t produce much offense, though, testing Turco with only 6 shots.

Second period ended, third period started.

The final period of the game would prove to be a test for both teams. For the Thrashers, the third is typically when they stepped up their game. For the Stars, a game with two strong periods to start usually ended in disappointment. 

Each team took a penalty in the third, but Atlanta finally managed to turn the momentum in their favor. Turco was peppered with more shots (13) in the third period than he’d faced in the entire first and second (12). This was mainly thanks to the heroic netminding of Kari Lehtonen, who blanked the Stars continually. Meanwhile, the rest of the Thrashers looked a little lazy with the puck.

Plenty of Stars fans will remember the game against the Avalanche in which it seemed Turco might get his first shut out of the season in a 1-0 game, only to let in a goal with less than a minute on the clock and put the game all the way to a shootout.

The Thrashers looked to create a similar situation when they pulled their goalie and put the pressure on the Stars. Turco responded by shutting it down and making a number of big in-close saves to claim his first shut out win of the season.

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game, in order: Turco, Ott, Lehtonen
  • Turco made 25 saves on 25 shots. Ott ended with a goal and an assist. Lehtonen made 31 saves on 33 shots.
  • The Stars outshot the Thrashers 33-25. 
  • Ribeiro’s two assists give him seven points in his last four games.
  • Conclusion: After a run that saw every game ended in overtime or a shootout, the Stars have now won their last two in regulation. Turco’s shutout and the team’s ability to stand up consistently in front of him were also a nice change. Can they reach that illusive 3-game win streak against Detroit?

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: one for embracing his physical side; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for tying for the team lead in +/- with +2; +1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +3
Mike Modano: one for leading in takeaways; +1
Toby Petersen: minus-one for returning to his low-impact ways; -1
Jere Lehtinen: three for the goal and one for tying for the team lead in +/-;  +4
Steve Ott: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for leading the team in hits, and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +7
Marty Turco: three for the shut out and one for winning it; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist and one for tying for the team lead in +/-; +5

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.

January 9, 2009

Game Review – 1/08/09 (DAL at DET)

by Chelsea

Game:

This game was kind of a headache. 

Marty Turco started, going into the game looking for his first regular season win at Joe Louis Arena. 

The teams came out with comparable energy, but we’d come to see that it wasn’t exactly sustainable energy.

Detroit scored on only their third shot of the game (4:07 – Marian Hossa, assisted by Brad Stuart and Daniel Cleary) and then again on their eighth (11:28 – Daniel Cleary, assisted by Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg) to wrap up scoring for that period. 

At 11:57, the stream of penalties started. James Neal kicked the party off with a cross checking minor, and was shortly followed by Darryl Sydor, who got two for tripping at 19:13.

Detroit outshot the Stars 11-6 in the first period, and would start the second period on a power play.

During the first intermission, we were surprised to see Tobias Stephan all mic’d up for an interview. We joked that maybe it meant we’d see him playing in the game. Heh. 

Second period went just like the first, except messier, and with an impending sense of doom.

The Stars killed off Sydor’s penalty and got a power play of their own when Brett Lebda took some sin bin time at 5:37 for tripping. However, instead of building momentum and staging a comeback, Dallas struggled to hold onto the puck and only got one SOG during the two minutes.

Just when we hoped that Turco, who’d gone a full 20 minutes without allowing a goal, had locked it up to spearhead the recovery, the Wings scored again. (12:27 – Kirk Maltby, assisted by Tomas Kopecky and Niklas Kronwall)

Only then, down 3-0, did we really get to see what it meant to play stupid hockey.

Stephane Robidas got his stick on Zetterberg at 13:53 and was whistled for hooking. Then, after a hard-fought effort by the team to kill the penalty, he came out of the box and promptly hooked Franzen. 

Naturally, the Wings were not to be held back a second time, and scored again to make the game 4-0. This one was a PPG by Tomas Holmstrom at 17:04, assisted by Hossa and Pavel Datsyuk. 

Cleary finished up the period by boarding Loui Eriksson at 18:04.

The second period ended with the Stars getting outshot 7-6 and outscored 2-0. Marty Turco, who allowed four goals on 18 shots, was pulled in favor of Tobias Stephan. As much as we enjoy seeing Stephan get some time, it really seemed to be more of a surrender by the coaches than a move to spark some life into the team.

As the third period started, Dallas did have a little more life. They started taking possession and creating scoring chances, which paid off early.

At 00:38, Trevor Daley shot the puck and Eriksson, repaying Detroit a favor for having wiped the glass with his face earlier, tipped it in past Osgood to make it 4-1. 

Then, when Kronwall took an open ice run at Ribeiro that knocked his helmet off, a mini-brawl started that had Ott bopping him upside the head and dropping the gloves. Luckily, an official stepped in before Ott could re-injure himself. While that was happening, Ribeiro basically got assaulted by the Wings, which the officials (apparently completely distracted by Ott?) happened to miss entirely. The only penalty dished was to Ott, a minor for cross checking.

In a weird explosion of Red Wings using the Stars as anger management, Neal was knocked into Chris Osgood and (though he seemed to try his best to not fall on the goalie) was given two minutes for goalkeeper interference. That was at 3:16. At 3:30, Holmstrom latched onto Robidas and got two for holding. Then, Robidas responded by giving Zetterberg a big hug at 4:34 and joining the two-for-holding club.

Basically, the Wings went up on a 4-on-3 with one of Dallas’ better penalty killers in the box, and Stephan got to start his first playing time since early December with basically no chance whatsoever. 

After a pass that really should have been stopped was not stopped and a shot that should have been blocked was not blocked, Datsyuk whipped a snap shot past Stephan to make the game 5-1. Nicklas Lidstrom assisted.

When Jiri Hudler got a minor for holding at 9:31, it seemed Dallas may get a moment to breathe. Then, at 10:36, Ott canceled out the power play by charging Maltby. 

Detroit beefed up their 4-on-4 stats a bit by scoring again at 11:02 with Zetterberg shooting the puck in past a screened Stephan, who tried to catch up to the play and make a glove save, but was unable to get into position in time.

Stephan finished the game with a string of solid saves, Dallas finished with a cheap slashing penalty by James Neal at 19:41, and Detroit finished with some power play pity by standing behind their own net with the puck for the remaining 15 seconds.

Ouch.

I think, had the officials not been whistle-happy, or had Stephan played the entire game, it may have been more like a 3-1 or 4-1, rather than the 6-1 embarrassment that it was.

I think, that while Turco was not entirely at fault, he looked really unfocused again. 2 out of the last 3 games have ended with him sporting a sv% below .800, making me wonder if maybe Turco is done with Dallas. He just looks disengaged out there, and when he’s playing with so little energy, the rest of the team usually follows.

Neal, Robidas, and Ott had shameful games. Robidas sounded like he was about to throw himself off a bridge in his postgame quotes, though, so he’s a little bit forgiven. 

In comparison, Turco’s postgame quotes had a little too much “we” and not enough “I” when it came to spreading the blame around. That he is routinely giving up 2 goals in the first period alone and is not apologizing to his team is just getting a little old, to be honest.

As far as big players stepping up goes, this game just highlighted that particular disappointment. While Modano has had some strong moments of leadership and earned himself a spot in this year’s ASG, and Robidas has seemingly begun to speak up more about what needs to be done, they’re really alone in that regard. Ribeiro and Richards have not shown nearly enough impact or even looked like they’re trying to take control of this team. Turco’s words get a little emptier every time he has a night like this. Sydor seems vocal enough, but has hardly been the stability on the blue line we were hoping for. 

If there was ever any question that the Stars were Morrow’s team, there shouldn’t be now. They need him, big time.

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: Hossa, Kronwall, Cleary
  • Turco had a sv% of .778, his worst since late November. He is now 0-8-2 at Joe Louis Arena in the regular season.
  • The Stars took 9 penalties from 4 people, which never spells success when you’re up against the best power play in the league.
  • Eriksson’s goal was his 21st, marking the first time in his NHL career that his goal tally has matched his jersey number. More importantly, it gives him 30 points for the season- one away from matching his career points high of 31.
  • Stephan, in the one period he played, faced only 3 shots less than Turco and let in half as many goals. His sv% for the game was .867.
  • Conclusion: The shining youth and explosive offense is dulled by being handed the responsibility of scoring 4-6 goals every game when their goaltender can’t get himself together. Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on points and standings and playing like it’s the playoffs, and time to pay attention to the details and working out the kinks of their game (especially for the rookies, whose experience next season could help fuel a legitimate Cup run).

SHR +/-:
Stephane Robidas: minus-three for the dumb penalties but one for admitting to them; -2
Matt Niskanen: minus-one for iffy defense; -1
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: three for being really really really really missed; +3
Krys Barch: one for squishing Datsyuk; +1
James Neal: minus-two for the dumb penalties; -2
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: one for really trying to hit people; +1 
Andrew Hutchinson: minus-one for doing absolutely nothing; -1
Steve Ott: minus-two for taking dumb penalties; -2
Tobias Stephan: one for a good effort and one for playing the puck without having any giveaways (cough, Turco); +2
Marty Turco: minus-one for each goal; -4
Darryl Sydor: minus-one for the dumb penalty and minus-two for awful defense; -3
Sergei Zubov: two for being missed and one sympathy point for having just had his surgery; +3
Mike Ribeiro: minus-two for being a defensive liability but one for at least looking like he wasn’t ready to give up; -1

January 9, 2009

Game Review – 1/04/09 (DAL at VAN)

by Chelsea

Game:

Despite some travel issues the night before, the Stars managed to make it to Vancouver for the first of their four match-ups this season.

The Canucks were playing without goaltenders Roberto Luongo or Curtis Sanford and newly-signed Mats Sundin, while the Stars were without Joel Lundqvist, Fabian Brunnstrom, Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, and recently-injured Landon Wilson. 

Dallas head coach Dave Tippett had Marty Turco in net again, saying that he intended to put the players out that he would were it a playoff game. Which, really, doesn’t explain why newcomer Brian Sutherby was on the top line. 

Because of Wilson’s injury, Chris Conner was moved up from healthy scratch to the second line with Ott and Ribeiro, while Parrish was moved to the fourth line with Barch and Petersen. 

The defensive pairings remained the same (Daley-Robidas, Sydor-Niskanen, Grossman-Hutchinson), with Janik and Vishnevskiy as healthy scratches again. 

The puck dropped at 9:00 PM CT, which is also known as “way too late, can we please go back to playing in a reasonable time zone?” 

It only took 2:11 to find out that the Canucks have this really annoying spotlight that they put on the goal-scorer when their team scores, just in case you were looking at the wrong end of the ice for some reason.

In a play that started in Vancouver’s defensive zone and got directed up ice by Conner (on accident), the Canucks crashed the net by ripping right through the Stars defense. Hutchinson did his best to get in the passing lane between Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood, but Bernier still managed to get the puck across. Turco, focused on who had the puck, was unable to get over in time to stop Wellwood’s redirection into the net.

We went “oh god, not this again please” as play resumed. 

Dallas displayed some excellent puck control for a few minutes, getting a string of six shots on goal that went uninterrupted for about four minutes until the direction changed back towards their defensive zone again.

It seemed like our concern was well-founded when, at 15:40, we watched the Stars climb into a 2-0 hole for the second night in a row.

Darcy Hordichuk snuck out in front of the net and was left open to redirect a pass from Jason Jaffray in behind Turco, despite the efforts from Dallas defense. Alexandre Bolduc got the second assist.

It began to look like the Stars would leave the first deflated, having played a fairly clean, penalty-less period and with only  a two-goal deficit to show for it. 

Mike Modano stepped up much in the way he hadn’t the night before, redefining “big goal” with a huge momentum-changer only ten seconds before heading to first intermission. 

The goal came after James Neal picked the puck up right inside the offensive zone and sent a sweet pass between two Canucks to Modano. Modano responded by reminding all of us of his skill by seemingly effortlessly scoring on LaBarbera. Loui Eriksson got the second assist.

The period ended at 2-1 Canucks, but with a huge momentum shift in the Stars’ favor.

Second period started.

The next ten minutes were solid hockey. Neither team took any penalties until exactly 10:00 in the second, meaning the entire first half of the game went without special teams.

Too bad it was the Stars’ Chris Conner to take the game’s first penalty, getting two minutes for hooking.

Dallas did its stuff to kill the penalty, and soon it was their turn to get the man-advantage.

First Wellwood was sent to the box for his team when they took a minor for too many men on the ice at 11:49. Then, at 13:14, Ryan Kesler got two minutes of his own for roughing. 

Though the Stars managed to squander their time spent on 5-on-3, they converted the rest of their power play opportunity only two seconds after Wellwood returned to the ice.

At 13:51, Lehtinen patiently held onto the puck until a passing lane opened, at which he set Ribeiro up beautifully for a one-timer. Ribeiro then released a lethal shot straight in past LaBarbera, tying the game 2-2. 

Second period (and the rest of regulation) finished with nothing but puck battles and penalties. Both teams had a power play in the third (Kevin Bieska at 6:55 for delay of game and Conner again at 10:09 for hooking), but neither managed to break the tie that would eventually put them into OT.

Then, in overtime, Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley probably kept the Stars from losing the extra point, both blocking shots and intercepting passes to keep the Canucks from getting any real chances on Turco.

So, that left a shootout to decide the game.

First up were Pavol Demitra for the Canucks and Brad Richards for the Stars. Neither scored. 

Second came Kyle Wellwood and Loui Eriksson (the league’s #1 and #2 in shooting accuracy), and both scored. It was actually Eriksson’s first career shootout goal, coming on his fourth attempt, and showcased some creativity we hadn’t seen too much of. 

Alexander Edler and Mike Ribeiro were up next. Neither scored. Ribeiro pretty much ran himself out of space in trying to be too creative. Whoops.

Tied at 1-3/1-3, the shootout went into it’s fourth round.

Ryan Kesler went for the Canucks and scored, putting quite the challenge on Mike Modano to score for Dallas. Even though everyone knew what he was going to do (high glove side), including LaBarbera, he still managed to hold the team in the game by going a little under the glove instead of over. 

When Alex Burrows, up next for Vancouver, was stopped by Turco, Tippett sent out James Neal to wrap up the game with his first career shootout attempt.

Neal responded to the pressure with a confident, no-frills shot to the blocker side that beat LaBarbera and won the game for the Stars.

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: LaBarbera, Modano, Neal
  • Turco, coming off a loss in Edmonton that saw him sporting a .789 sv% for the game, stopped 33 of 35 shots for a sv% of .943.
  • Chris Conner did not have a particularly good game; he was -2 for the night and took the Stars’ only two penalties.
  • Dallas outshot Vancouver 36-35.
  • The Stars were 1-for-3 on the PP, while the Canucks went 0-for-2.
  • Conclusion: It was good to see the team rally from behind, led by their big players, without using Marty Turco’s play as a measuring stick for how much effort they should bring. Possibly the first time that the team improved and Turco improved consequentially, rather than the other way around?

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: minus-one for leading the team in giveaways; -1
Stephane Robidas: two for tying the lead in blocked shots with three; +2
Trevor Daley: two for tying the lead in blocked shots with three; +2 
Mike Modano: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for the shootout goal, and one for leading the team to their comeback; +7
James Neal: two for the assist, one for the shootout goal, and one for confidence; +4
Brian Sutherby: one for leading the team in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and one for the shootout goal; +3
Chris Conner: minus-one for not playing all that well; -1
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist and one for special teams awesomeness; +3
Marty Turco: two for the good game; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal but minus-one for tanking at faceoffs; +2

December 20, 2008

Catching Up

by Chelsea

So… I’ve been sick, and Kristine has been working, so a lot has happened that hasn’t made it onto the blog. Apologies for the ghost site SHR’s been this week. Instead of catching up on Thursday night, we went to the Blue Jacket’s game instead, and it was absolutely worth it.

Now we’re a bit backlogged though, so it’s all getting thrown out in one long, slightly outdated post. 

—–

SHR +/-:
(for the  12/13/08 Dallas at Nashville game)

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading the team in hits in Robidas’ absence; +1
Matt Niskanen: minus-two for a sloppy game; -2
Trevor Daley: one for leading in TOI in Robidas’ absence; +1
Tobias Stephan: three for a solid performance despite the rest of the team flaking; +3
Doug Janik: one for tying with Parrish for most takeaways; +1
Mark Parrish: one for tying with Janik for most takeaways; +1
Brad Richards: two for leading the team in SOG but minus-one for failing to score on any of them; +1

—–

 Game Notes and SHR +/-:
(for the 12/16/08 Phoenix at Dallas game)

  •  Three game stars, in order: Turco, Eriksson, Bryzgalov
  • Loui Eriksson scored twice, and was the only Star to score in the 2-1 win. His second was the game-winning OT goal.
  • Eriksson’s goals gave him 14 for the season- tying his previous season high recorded in 07-08 over 69 games.
  • Marty Turco made 22 saves on 23 shots for a .957 sv%
  • The game was defenseman Nicklas Grossman’s 100th in the NHL.
  • Conclusion: The Stars got the lead early, went 0-for-3 on the power play, and ended up having the game tied half-way through the first. For being such an important win, the team should not have had to depend so entirely on Turco and Eriksson. 

Nicklas Grossman: one for tying for the lead in blocked shots but minus-one for leading in giveaways; +0
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for leading the team in hits; +3 
James Neal: one for leading the team in SOG; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal and one for helping carry the entire team; +7
Tom Wandell: one goodbye point for playing his last game here this year; +1
Chris Conner: two for the assist and one goodbye point; +3
Marty Turco: two for playing well again after his night off; +2
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist and one for leading in takeaways; +3

—–

Injury Update: 

Stephane Robidas (broken jaw), Steve Ott (broken hand), and Joel Lundqvist (shoulder injury) all returned to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets. 

Robidas was injured when he took a puck to the mouth December 10th, requiring braces on his bottom teeth, stitches galore, and a metal plate in the jaw (had surgery on the 11th to fix it). He returned only a week later, sporting the classic cage from last season. 

Ott broke his hand during a fight on November 22nd, when he took on Steve Montador of the Anaheim Ducks. Having apparently jammed it trying to grab Montador at the beginning of the fight, Ott finished the scrum- and the rest of the game. With the injury, he can’t fight again for awhile, but that definitely won’t stop him from his other agitating duties.

Lundqvist’s shoulder injury was bad enough to cost him 21 games, as he couldn’t handle full contact without risking re-injury. He returned in full form though, logging a game-high 9 hits in his return.

Jere Lehtinen is said to be close to returning, but it looks like we won’t see Sergei Zubov for awhile. It was announced Thursday that he’ll have to undergo another hip surgery and will likely be sidelined the rest of the season. Fortunately, he also expressed a willingness to continue his career, and will have all summer to rehab. 

Trevor Daley also seemed to be injured, leaving the game against Columbus early, but he seems likely to be alright to play on the upcoming road trip. 

With the return of some key veterans came the loss of some young hopefuls. Chris Conner was reassigned to Peoria and Tom Wandell returned to Sweden. It seems unlikely that we’ll be seeing much of either for the rest of this season, but you never know.

—–

Holy Cow, Jamie Benn:

Stars prospect Jamie Benn has been lighting up the Western Hockey League, with 45 points (24 goals, 21 assists) in 27 games, including a streak of six games in which he earned 18 points. 

His offensive prowess garnered the attention of quite a few with his recent success in Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp, getting three goals and an assist in three intra-squad games. Benn earned himself a spot on Canada’s World Juniors roster along with possible 2009 #1 draft pick John Travares.

The World Junior teams for Canada and Sweden faced off in an exhibition game on Friday. Canada came out on top of the 4-2 match that showcased goals from Tavares, his competition for #1 overall (Viktor Hedman), and our very own Jamie Benn.

December 14, 2008

Game Review – 12/12/08 (DAL vs DET)

by Chelsea

Game:

Ahh, the Red Wings. Hadn’t seen them since they ceremoniously booted our Stars from the playoffs last year. It’d be nice if we’d had key players from that run (Morrow, Robidas, Zubov, Lehtinen, Ott, Lundqvist…) in the lineup for the rematch, but the injuries did give our Swedish talent (Brunnstrom, Eriksson, Wandell, Grossman) a chance to log some ice time against some Swedish idols (Franzen, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Lidstrom…)

The puck dropped at 7:30 PM CT.

Our starting line was Conner-Richards-Eriksson, with Grossman-Daley on defense. Detroit won the first faceoff, and the puck made its way to Turco before a giveaway led to movement in the other direction.

The Wings had Ty Conklin in net, which was a little disappointing because we like watching Ribeiro destroy Osgood. In a purely goal-scoring sense, of course.

The second line was Neal-Ribeiro-Brunnstrom, a combination heavily approved of here. After Ribeiro lost the next faceoff, Neal stole the puck in their offensive zone, leading to scoring opportunity for Brunnstrom.

Play continued until 3:45, when Trevor Daley got 2 minutes for hooking Pavel Datsyuk. Dallas killed off the penalty, but Detroit had them chasing the puck, and managed to capitalize not too long after.

Scoring opened at 6:05 when Daniel Cleary and Jiri Hudler set up Brett Lebda near the net. Lebda beat Turco’s glove to put the game at 1-0.

The first period had the most penalties in the game, the last three coming against the Red Wings. The first was at 7:29, when Marian Hossa hooked Neal. Then, at 18:16, Lebda also got a minor for hooking. Finally, at 18:29, Cleary got called for cross checking Neal (who absolutely sold it).

Despite all of these advantages, including nearly a full two minutes of 5-on-3, the Stars did not manage to tie the game, and we went to first intermission.

Second period.

Though it seemed the tables would turn in Detroit’s favor as they killed off what little remained of the 5-on-3, the Stars held on and began keeping pace with the somewhat flat-footed Wings.

When Nicklas Grossman was caught hooking at 2:12, forcing the Stars to kill off their second penalty, their success led to an offensive push.

Coming through to tie the game with a big goal was rookie Tom Wandell, scoring his first career NHL goal in his third career game. The Swedish center worked hard for his goal, tricking out two defensemen with his fast hands after receiving the puck from Landon Wilson, backhanding it nicely past Conklin. Afterwards, Wilson retrieved the puck from the crease and took it to Wandell, congratulating him on his goal. There was no second assist.

Perhaps our Swedish rookies were showing off?

Not to be redundant, but it was Fabian “Tiebreaker Bunny” Brunnstrom who stepped up yet again. After doing a little research, I found that out of his 9 goals, 5 have broken a tie of some sort, and 3 of them have been game winners. So, appropriate nickname? Possibly.

Anyway, it was only a few minutes later (at 7:27) that Brunnstrom broke the tie, in what would become the game winning goal. He’d entered the offensive zone straight up the middle, where he received a pass from Ribeiro. After shaking off Lidstrom, he blast a wrist shot from the middle of the Detroit zone, ripping it past Conklin. Darryl Sydor, who had shuffled the puck up the boards to Ribeiro, got the second assist.

Detroit took their timeout immediately after, but it really didn’t do them much good, because Marty Turco was busy building himself into a solid wall that’d not be cracked by any of their best-laid plans.

The Red Wings continued to win faceoffs and began to open fire on the Dallas net. A few minutes later, and Dallas used their timeout as well.

After that, the Stars continued to limit any actual scoring opportunities, only allowing five shots on goal for the remainder of the period. This included a Detroit power play at 18:31, when Nicklas Grossman sat for cross checking.

The second period ended 2-1, Stars.

Third period belong to Marty Turco.

He made 14 saves to keep the game from being tied, at least a good third of those being highlight worthy. He tracked the puck through traffic, covered his rebounds well, and refused every Wing who broke away to challenge him.

Mikael Samuelsson, possibly frustrated by all the attempts that were turned away, got into it a bit with Landon Wilson at 12:15. The officials stepped in before a real fight developed, and both got minor penalties. Samuelsson’s was for roughing and Wilson’s for holding.

As Detroit was still chasing the Stars’ one-point lead with a little over a minute to play, they pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. When a team has had 3 power plays against a team and couldn’t hold on to the puck long enough to score, that never seems to be a good time to pull your goalie. But, they took that risk, and they paid for it.

It only took eight seconds of empty net time for Dallas to get a very lucky bounce, the puck going from Wilson to Mike Ribeiro, who was heading towards center ice against two Red Wings. Kronwall moved to head off Ribeiro or block his shot, but wasn’t able to move fast enough. Ribeiro sent it flying from the Detroit blue line and into the net, sealing the deal with a 3-1 lead and a minute to play.

No SOG were registered in the final minute, all of the Wings’ attempts getting blocked or missing the net entirely. The game ended 3-1 Stars.

Notes:

  • The three stars of the game, in order: Brunnstrom, Modano, Turco
  • Turco ended the game with 37 saves on 38 shots, for a sv% of .974.
  • Neither team scored on the PP.
  • James Neal led in both takeaways (4) and hits (9) and ended the game +1.
  • Matt Niskanen and Darryl Sydor, while not the starting defense, logged the most ice time and ended the game +3 and +2 respectively. Each also had an assist.
  • Sydor also led the team in blocked shots, with 7.
  • Nicklas Grossman struggled, ending the game +/- 0 and led the team in giveaways (3).
  • Mike Ribeiro, who had been pointless in his last ten games, led the team in SOG (4) and registered a goal and an assist.
  • Brunnstrom’s goal bumped him to second in rookies for goal scoring, with 9.
  • Brad Richards, the center of the night’s starting line, left the game with -1 in +/-, a team-worst 38% in the faceoff circle among anyone that took at least 4, and was credited with 2 giveaways.
  • Conclusion: While the game was riddled with high points and showed an overall ability to play as a team, the power play continued to outright fail. Sure, hard work might beat out talent, but you can only win so many games without some help from your special teams.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: minus-one for subpar play and one for getting “alpha male” in puck battles; +0
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and two for exceptional play; +4
James Neal: two for leading in hits with a whopping nine and one for leading in takeaways; +3
Loui Eriksson: minus-one for struggling offensively and defensively; -1
Landon Wilson: two for each assist and one for getting Wandell’s puck for him; +5
Tom Wandell: three for the goal and one for style; +4
Marty Turco: three for exceptional goaltending, one for style, and one for giving his stick away after the game; +5
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and one for exceptional play; +4
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for style; +6
Brad Richards: minus-one for his issues as a first line center, minus-two for his issues on the power play, and minus-one for stinking at faceoffs all night;  -4
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal and one for style; +4