Posts tagged ‘Stephane Robidas’

October 22, 2009

Game Review – 10/21/09 (DAL @ ANA)

by Chelsea

Game:

Continuing their new habit of stealing wins on the road, the Stars roared into Anaheim and whipped up on some zombie Ducks for the better part of two periods. It was a relief for Dallas fans to see the other team sleepwalking after that slight embarrassment against the Kings.

They gained a lead late in the first with a great shift from Wandell’s line. The rookie center moved up in between James Neal and Loui Eriksson, who both seemed to be struggling to create offense without Brad Richards. The goal itself was classic Eriksson, who was fighting for position in the crease and  found space to shove Neal’s rebound past Jonas Hiller.

The pressure continued in the second period, when Stars fans were treated to a flash of the Ribeiro-Morrow brilliance that was sorely missing last season. It happened when Hiller attempted to play the puck, only to have his pass intercepted by Ribeiro, who proceeded to immediately slide it straight to Brenden Morrow. The entire play was so quick and effortless that Hiller couldn’t even recover before the puck was in the net.

Moments later, Evgeny Artyukhin pulled a very cheap move on defenseman Matt Niskanen, kicking his feet out from under him mid-check. As a result, Niskanen’s head hit the ice as he landed. Despite getting up on his own, he left the game and is now out with a head injury.

Not only did the officials neglect to call a penalty on the play, they called a crosschecking penalty on Sutherby when he tried to hold Artyukhin accountable for his actions.

Dallas responded by killing off that penalty and breaking their power play drought on the next Anaheim penalty. This one was thanks to Trevor Daley, who found his sweet spot in the high circle and whipped a shot past Hiller.

Despite stepping off the gas and allowing goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Joffrey Lupul, the Stars held onto their lead thanks to some hard work by Marty Turco. He stopped 13 of 14 third period shots and did not allow the Ducks to tie it. When they pulled their goalie, Ott was able to seal the win with an empty net goal.

Notes:

  • The three homertastic game stars, in order: Wisniewski, Eriksson, Getzlaf
  • Our three stars: Eriksson, Ott, Hiller
  • The game was Morrow’s 600th career game (all with the Stars), so it was fitting that #10 scored the goal that moved him into the 10th spot on all-time Stars goalscoring. Congrats!
  • Despite a somewhat slow start, Eriksson is on pace to score 36 goals again this season.
  • If Morrow were to stay scoring goals at the same pace he’s at, he’d breach 50 by the end of the season.
  • Nicklas Grossman continues to lead the league in +/-.
  • More Anaheim homerism: the Ducks outhit the Stars 30-11. Steve Ott was only credited with 2 hits, when he almost certainly had more than that in the first period alone.
  • Mark Fistric and Jamie Benn were the only Stars to have more than 1 blocked shot, with 3 and 2 respectively.
  • Francis Wathier, playing in his NHL debut, looked solid and got a good fight in against Mike Brown.
  • Conclusion: A good win. Came very close to stringing together 3 periods of solid play. Getting Ott back was big, and it was nice to see more than one line creating chances.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for an overall good game; +3
Matt Niskanen: one angry upset concerned point; +1
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal and one congrats! point; +4
Krys Barch: one for the fight; +1
Toby Petersen: one for looking solid in the third period when the rest of the team was struggling; +1
James Neal: two for each assist; +4
Brian Sutherby: two for trying to stick up for Niskanen but minus-one for being kinda meh otherwise; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: two for the assist; +2
Mark Fistric: one for a solid overall game; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Marty Turco: one for playing well overall and one for somehow registering a shot on goal; +2
Karlis Skrastins: minus-one for kinda having a rough game; -1
Francis Wathier: one for the fight; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for winning 14 out of 21 faceoffs; +3

Advertisements
October 21, 2009

Weekly Picture Fantastic

by Chelsea

This week’s Picture Fantastic covers from the 14th to today, and features the best images of the best moments in Stars hockey.

A happy captain only means good things for the Stars, who beat the Predators 6-0.

Marty Turco bein’ Marty Turco earned him his first shutout of the season.

Stars celebrate an accidental goal on Huet that resulted from an attempt by Robidas to rim the puck along the boards.

Just too funny not to share.

Check out that ‘A’!

Have a favorite picture you want to share? Leave a comment!

As always, images are property of their respective owners.

October 20, 2009

Game Review – 10/19/09 (DAL vs LAK)

by Chelsea

Game:

Well, when I started to write this immediately following the game, the only thought I had was “Boooooo.”

It was a pretty disappointing loss for the Stars’ first game against a divisional opponent. We were at the game, and by the end of it, we were sitting there seeing if we could count all the players we weren’t annoyed at on one hand. We could. Easily.

So here you go:

  • Mike Ribeiro: Wore the ‘A’ with Lehtinen, Richards, Modano, and Ott out. He wore it well. His attitude about taking a step towards becoming more of a leader (as he told Razor about during intermission) was great.
  • Brenden Morrow: Nifty pass to set up Benn in the first. Some nice hits later in the game. It’s too bad the rest of the team didn’t pick up on his energy.
  • Jamie Benn: He had his share of turnovers, but without him, the game is another 3-0 shutout.
  • Alex Auld: Sat on the bench really well. No turnovers or anything!
  • Karlis Skrastins: Think about how you felt when Sydor came out to kill a penalty and compare it to how you feel when Skrastins is on the ice PKing. Yeah.

On the other hand, there were some not-so-pleasant things, like:

  • Stars power play giving us all a headache. Just because Toby Petersen rocked the point in Iowa forever ago doesn’t mean he works there in the NHL.
  • Ribeiro and Wandell totally forgetting how to win a faceoff.
  • The top defensive pairing sitting in the box together while the Stars try to kill off a 5-on-3. Then..
  • Getting scored on with only 7 seconds of penalty kill left. Ouch.
  • Matt Niskanen, Tom Wandell, and Fabian Brunnstrom’s -2.
  • Trevor Daley leading defensemen in giveaways. Brunnstrom and Benn are relatively new at this. What’s Daley’s excuse for making rookie mistakes?
  • Us going from “James Neal is a BEAST” to actually wishing the team could afford to bench him for a few shifts to try and wake him up. Zombie Neal is not effective.
  • Marty Turco’s handful of irritating moments, like every time he made us panic over his puckhandling on the PK.

All things considered, it was still only one game and they have a chance to redeem themselves Wednesday and Thursday.

One thing I was wondering about after the game though is why the team doesn’t seem able to win in front of Turco. In realizing that he is 1-2-3 (5 of 12 available points) compared to Auld’s 2-0-0 (4 of 4 points), and knowing they have almost equal stats, it is hard not to wonder what the difference is.

With a little investigating, I discovered this:

The average time between goals Auld has allowed is right under 17 minutes. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a goal in the first period of either of his starts, and the shortest time between two goals allowed was approximately 11 minutes. He also has not allowed a goal when the Stars had anything less than a 2-goal lead.

Not to say that all of his goals against were great or even okay, but there’s something to be said for timely saves.

In comparison, Turco’s average time between goals is barely over 12 minutes, a time that seems to be decreasing (down from appr. 16 minutes apart in his first 3 starts) with each game. He has not allowed two goals further apart than 10 minutes in his last two starts, the closest together being less than 3 minutes apart. He’s allowed a goal in the first period in 4 of his 6 starts.

Maybe most importantly, 14 of the 15 goals against Turco have come when the game is close (5 allowed the opposition to tie it, 6 allowed them to break the tie, and 3 gave them a 2-goal lead.) That’s all but the second Savard goal, which gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

It will be interesting to revisit this idea once Auld has more than 2 starts to consider.

Also: What is up with Richards being so delicate in Dallas? Mono, shoulder problems, a broken hand, a broken wrist, and now a sore groin? That trade must have irritated some hockey gods somewhere, because he’s had maybe 2 games here fully healthy.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Smyth, Williams, Quick
  • Perttu Lindgren played in his first NHL game and, like Aaron Gagnon, did absolutely nothing and has since been reassigned to Texas.
  • Brenden Morrow led the team with 6 hits. Mark Fistric had 5 and Stephane Robidas had 4.
  • Jamie Benn might have had 2 giveaways, but he also led the team with 3 takeaways.
  • Ribeiro led the team in blocked shots with 3. The only other skaters to block any shots were Woywitka (1) and Skrastins (2).
  • Ribeiro also had 3 hits, including a rather impressive one on Matt Greene in the third period.
  • The Stars recap says this: “Defenseman Nicklas Grossman picked up an assist on Benn’s goal, extending his points streak to a career-high tying four games.” For anyone wondering how that’s possible given that the Stars got shut out 3 games ago… I don’t know either.
  • Conclusion: You don’t make it to the playoffs by losing important games. Hopefully we’ll see more of the Games 1-5 Stars on this upcoming road trip than the Games 6-8 Stars.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist but minus-one for the penalties; +1
Brenden Morrow: two for the assist and one for being totally awesome; +3
Jamie Benn: three for the goal; +3
Marty Turco: 🙂 but then :(; +0
Jeff Woywitka: minus-one because he’s done less in five games than decent players do in one; -1
Mike Ribeiro: one for being totally awesome; +1

October 18, 2009

Game Reviews – (vs BOS) and (@ CHI)

by Chelsea

The “Back-to-Back Special”, or the “Tale of Two Teams.”

Game – 10/16/09:

Well the funny thing about this back-to-back was that both of the teams spent every meeting last season completely embarrassing the Stars. For that reason, the general consensus here was that it’d be nice to at least get 2 points of the 4. Because the Boston game was on home ice and the first of the two, it seemed really important that the Stars play well.

What really happened appeared to be more like the Stars slept right through the game against the Bruins so that they’d have lossa energy to take on Chicago with. Ribeiro took a dumb penalty in the first, the Bruins scored, and the game basically ended there with 47 minutes left to play.

For insurance, though, the Bruins added another two goals and won the game 3-0. Turco couldn’t really be faulted for any of them, but also did not really come up with enough timely saves to keep them in the game.

On a positive note, Aaron Gagnon (called up from the Texas Stars) played in his first ever NHL game. For having played the night before, he didn’t look so bad. He won 5 of 8 faceoffs and had a takeaway and a blocked shot (and no giveaways).

Nicklas Grossman took a puck right in the face in the second period, but because he is 1/2 of the toughest defensive pairing in the league, he skated himself off the ice and returned in the third. All things considered, it was a pretty unlucky night to be anywhere near Stephane Robidas (at least 2 of the goals against deflected off of him).

Notes – 10/16/09:

  • The three game stars, in order: Savard, Thomas, Chara
  • Brad Richards and a handful of other Stars had their point streaks broken. Because nobody scored. Which was sad.
  • All of a sudden, the Dallas power play lost its power, going 0-for-3 despite the advantage coming at some pretty crucial points in the game.
  • Mike Ribeiro had a rough night, as he took the Stars’ only penalty and was on the ice for both even strength goals against. He also won only 27% of his 15 faceoffs and only 1 of his 5 shots even got on goal.
  • Rookie Jamie Benn actually led the Stars in blocked shots, with 3. He also had 3 takeaways and 2 giveaways.
  • Robidas led the team with 6 hits.
  • Conclusion: A stinker was bound to happen eventually, and while it is disappointing that it happened so early, it is also completely unsurprising that it was against the Bruins.

SHR +/- – 10/16/09:

Nicklas Grossman: one 😦 point for leaving the game bloodied and hurting but one 🙂 point for returning; +2
Aaron Gagnon: one welcometotheNHL! point; +1
Tom Wandell: minus-one for sucking so much at faceoffs; -1
Mike Ribeiro: see Tom Wandell; -1


Game – 10/17/09:

Immediately following the Bruins game, the Stars packed up and headed to Chicago to play the Blackhawks. Ooh, the dreaded Blackhawks, unbeaten by Dallas since the 07-08 season. Ooh, and playing their second game in as many nights too. Ooh, the Stars would need some serious luck to make it out of this one with a win.

Well… the Stars got a weird mix of luck, fortunate circumstance, and timely goaltending and actually managed to run off with the two points.

First off on the list of oddities was seeing defensive defenseman Mark Fistric playing forward on a line with Petersen and Barch. Gagnon was a healthy scratch and Woywitka was paired with Niskanen. He didn’t look nearly as lost as you’d expect, and actually seemed to be enjoying it.

Second, there was the play of Alex Auld. He was fantastic in the first period, stopping all 14 shots to keep the Stars in the game when they came out sleepwalking. However, for all his timely saves, he did have a few unfortunate moments. The second goal against came when Auld lost his footing behind the net, giving Toews an easy goal. The third gave the Hawks momentum to attempt to tie it by putting them within one goal with 5 minutes left to play.

There was also James Neal. One of the best players for Dallas in the first 5 games all of a sudden looked completely lifeless. He had multiple noticeably lazy moments, including coughing the puck up at his own blueline and then standing there and watching while the Blackhawks scored. He ended the game -1, with only 2 shots, 2 hits, a giveaway and no takeaways or blocked shots.

More strangeness included: Toby Petersen scoring, which was assisted by Fistric, meaning his first point of the season actually came as a forward. Skrastins, Niskanen, Grossman, and Robidas also all left with a point in the game, meaning 5 of 11 (if you include Fistric) points by Dallas players went to defensemen. A pane of glass fell out and into the stands during the game and play was held up as they waited for it to be replaced.

Perhaps the oddest thing was the goal by which the Stars won, which came entirely on accident and suggested that whatever misfortune surrounded Robidas the night before seemed to have reversed.

Robidas shot the puck from center ice, sending it along the glass in a routine dump into the Chicago zone. Instead of heading behind the net, however, it hit something and bounced out towards Cristobal Huet, who reached down to catch it. The puck had a different idea, all of a sudden springing up and over Huet’s glove, into the net.

Though the game was won on a fluke and a fumble, the win was protected by some very very hard work from the Stars penalty kill. With Morrow in the box (stupidstupid) at 17:49 in the third for interference (stuuppiidddd), Chicago pulled their goalie and had 6 skaters against the Stars’ 4. Wandell and Eriksson in particular worked very hard to keep the puck away from Auld and Dallas made it out with the win.

With that kill, the Stars successfully killed 8 of their last 9 penalties dating back to the Nashville game. In fact, they have not allowed a power play goal in any game in which Ribeiro was on the ice for at least 25% of the time shorthanded. I actually kept (approximate) track of how many times each player distinctly gained possession and removed the puck from their own zone during a penalty kill, and Ribeiro, Eriksson, and Neal combined for about 70%. Morrow, Wandell, and Robidas made up the other 30%.

However, the Stars power play was not any better than Chicago’s. They had 5 opportunities (8 if you go back to the Boston game) and couldn’t score on any of them. Granted, Crawford played a pretty conservative power play as it probably didn’t seem worth risking the game (a Blackhawks SH goal would have really given them momentum) to try to increase their lead.

Notes – 10/17/09:

  • The three game stars, in order: Auld, Toews, Ribeiro
  • Auld is now 2-0-0 and has been a game star in each game he’s started, even in preseason.
  • Morrow got himself an extra 2 minutes after the final buzzer for sassing, apparently.
  • Ribeiro, after promising after the Boston game that he would be better, had a goal and won 40% of his faceoffs.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom was the only Star to end the game with a +2. He also assisted on the first goal when he won a puck battle and sent it to Morrow for a one-timer.
  • That ^ is a little misleading, as Morrow’s one-timer was stopped, but he got his own rebound.
  • Robidas led the team with 5 hits. That’s 11 in two nights, which is more than the majority of Stars have all season.
  • Conclusion: It was a weird win, but getting two points and not giving any up to a Western opponent is nothing to look down on. Stars really need to build off this and string together a few more, though.

SHR +/- – 10/17/09:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist, one for looking really good in the first half of the game, but minus-one for looking really bad in the second half; +2
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal but minus-one for that stupid penalty; +2
Krys Barch: two for the assist; +2
Jamie Benn: two for the assist; +2
Toby Petersen: three for the goal but minus-one for being so awful at faceoffs lately; +2
James Neal: bleck; -2
Loui Eriksson: one for his hard work on the PK; +1
Tom Wandell: one for his hard work on the PK but minus-one for the stupid penalties; +0
Mark Fistric: two for the assist; +2
Alex Auld: one for the win, however unusual it was; +1
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for the hustle that earned him his +2; +3

October 15, 2009

Game Review – 10/14/09 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars wanted to make a statement on home ice against the team that spoiled their home opener (and Razor’s Christmas). To do that, they’d have to crack Dan Ellis.

That happened surprisingly quickly when, 3:17 in the first, Ribeiro set up Morrow for a one-timer that sizzled past Ellis. Then, before they’d finished announcing the goal in the AAC, Loui Eriksson sent a slick pass to Richards to put Dallas up 2-0. Only a couple minutes later, Eriksson tipped in Neal’s shot from the high slot. Having let in 3 goals on 3 shots, Ellis was pulled before the middle of the first period.

Pekka Rinne faced a similar fate when, at 8:16, Dan Hamhuis took the first penalty of the game and Morrow scored on the resulting power play. Martin Erat took another penalty in the period’s last second, so the Stars started the second period on another power play.

Brenden Morrow nearly scored a hat trick at the beginning of the middle frame but had the goal waived off because the official had just blown the whistle against Kevin Klein (for hi-sticking Jamie Benn) to put the Stars on a 5-on-3. Loui Eriksson scored his second of the game a minute later.

Though Toby Petersen would eventually notch his first of the season in the last few minutes of the third, the game remained 5-0 through the majority of the second and third periods.

During that time, Dallas took 4 penalties and successfully killed off each one, allowing only 6 power play shots on goal. Having been a major sore spot during the Western Canada trip, having the penalty kill go 100% was huge. Turco came up big multiple times, as did defensemen like Skrastins and Grossman who were solid in clearing out the crease and getting in front of shots.

Late in the third, Marty Turco really earned his shutout with some saves reminiscent of the 07-08 postseason, keeping the Predators off the scoresheet and provoking cheers and applause from the crowd. It turned into a standing ovation as time expired, the final score an impressive 6-0.

It was great to see all of the Stars’ hard work come together at last, after working on both the penalty kill and shootout in practice. For once, they not only addressed their problems (the PK) and showed visible improvement quickly, but did so without sacrificing any of their strong points (even strength and PP).

The big test will be tomorrow against Boston, a struggling but talented team looking to get back on track, and Saturday against Chicago, who definitely had the Stars’ number last season.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Richards, Morrow, Turco
  • Jamie Benn extended his point streak with two assists (1-4-5 in 4 games)
  • Mike Ribeiro did also (2-5-7 in 4 games)
  • Brad Richards had at least a goal and assist for the third straight game, extending his streak (3-6-9 in 5 games)
  • Marty Turco stopped 29 of 29 shots to earn his 37th career shutout and his first win of the season.
  • Every player in the Stars’ top 6 has at least 5 points in 5 games.
  • The top defensive pairing of Grossman-Robidas is a combined +18, with Grossman leading the league as a +10.
  • Conclusion: The Stars came out blazing again, but they won’t be able to relax against the Bruins or Blackhawks like they did in the middle of the this game. However, if they stay sharp and get more of this fantastic goaltending, they ought to come out of the weekend with at least 2 more points.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Matt Niskanen: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Trevor Daley: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for each goal; +6
Jamie Benn: two for each assist and one for quietly racking up 5 points in 5 games; +5
Toby Petersen: three for the goal but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +2
James Neal: two for each assist; +6
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal, two for the assist, one for style, and one for being Loui again; +10
Tom Wandell: one for being awesome at faceoffs; +1
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: three for the shut-out, one for playing the puck without having a single giveaway, and one for being Marty Turco again; +5
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist and one for defensive awesomeness; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist; +4
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for each assist, and one for style; +8

October 12, 2009

Game Review – 10/11/09 (DAL @ VAN)

by Chelsea

Also known as, “The End of The Freebie Power Play Goals Road Trip.”

Game, sorta:

Dallas penalty killing woes continued right through the end of their Western Canada road trip as Marty Turco allowed 2 power play goals that turned a 1-0 Stars lead into a 2-1 scramble that somehow resulted in a 4-3 shootout loss.

As easy as it is to point to Turco for being a gigantic mess in the post-overtime skillsfest, chances are the Stars could have won at least one of their three OTL in regulation had their PK prevented just one of the goals scored.

So who is to blame for the special teams struggle? I would propose that it is not the coaching or the players, but the actual personnel on the ice during a penalty kill.

There was a moment during overtime where the Canucks had the Stars trapped in their own zone for what felt like forever. Dallas was all over the place and it seemed inevitable that they were about to get scored on. All of a sudden, Matt Niskanen (yeah, no, really) pinned one of the Vancouver forwards to the boards and kicked the puck away from him. Stars got it out of the zone and were able to change.

That same Matt Niskanen has gotten all of 2:21 SH TOI this season, compared to Grossman, Skrastins, Robidas, and Daley who all have over 10 minutes already. Daley, Robidas and Grossman have all already been on the ice for at least three power play goals against each.

Defensemen total TOI vs total goals against:

  • Mark Fistric – 27:48, 0 GA.
  • Matt Niskanen – 87:01, 2 GA (1 per appr. 44 min)
  • Karlis Skrastins – 80:35, 2 GA (1 per appr. 40 min)
  • Jeff Woywitka – 24:59, 1 GA (1 per appr. 25 min)
  • Trevor Daley – 98:22, 5 GA (1 per appr. 20 min)
  • Stephane Robidas – 89:50, 5 GA (1 per appr. 18 min)
  • Nicklas Grossman – 79:24, 7 GA (1 per appr. 12 min)

Granted, anyone watching Stars games would see that the Grossman-Robidas pairing has been extremely solid at even strength. However, perhaps it’s time to cut their shorthanded minutes a little in favor of Niskanen or even Fistric.

At forward, there seem to be some stereotypes causing confusion with who deserves time killing penalties.

For some reason, Mike Ribeiro has been on the ice for only 1:38 on the PK. Meanwhile, Brad Richards has had 5:23. That’s more time than Morrow, Neal, and almost as much as Eriksson. Pretty impressive ice time for someone who I would argue is one of the worst straight-up defensive players on the team. This is NOT to say he is a liability on the ice, but…

Brad Richards is a -58 in his career, and has not ended a season with a positive +/- since before the lockout. He has had 3 power play goals scored against him in his 5:23. He is hesitant to take the body and has blocked all of 41 shots since the start of the 07-08 season (that’s 134 games). While he is a fantastic player at even strength and with the man advantage, he should not be logging 5x the ice time short handed as Mike Ribeiro.

Granted, Ribeiro has some dumb defensive moments as a result of his (sometimes overly) creative style of play. However, I believe 100% that when asked to play defense first and foremost, he does it with the same intelligence that he is so impressive with offensively.

In fact, I would bet you will find him in the top 10 or 15 in entire league when it comes to offensive numbers vs penalty killing prowess. Here’s why:

Ribeiro got 81:45 in SH TOI last season and saw only FIVE power play goals against. That’s only one every 16 minutes. If you assume he logged just 60 seconds each time the Stars were penalty killing, and the Stars took 4 penalties every game, it would have taken the other team 4 full games to score a PPG while Ribeiro was on the ice.

It was his first season of getting regular shorthanded time.

In comparison, Richards got 118:11 SH TOI last season and was on the ice for 14 PPGA. That’s one every 8 minutes, or twice as many as Ribeiro.

While there are a lot of ways in which the Stars PK could be improved, from shuffling player combinations to changing strategy to just running drills, my BOLD PREDICTION is this:

Give Matt Niskanen and Mike Ribeiro a chance to take on more responsibility penalty killing, and the numbers will start to improve.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Sedin, Ribeiro, Wellwood
  • Rookie Jamie Benn got his first NHL goal in front of his family and friends with only 1:33 left in regulation to tie the game and force overtime.
  • Marty Turco is on a 5-game losing streak if you look back to last season.
  • Jere Lehtinen returned from injury to play his first game of the season, but Steve Ott pulled an oblique muscle and is now out for an unknown amount of time.
  • Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards, Jamie Benn, and Stephane Robidas all have point streaks going.
  • Conclusion: Marty Turco looked good, not great, but then stumbled again in the shootout. However, it seems that if the Stars fix their special teams problems without losing dominance at even strength, they won’t need to worry about games going into overtime.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading the league in +/-; +1
Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one 😦 point for taking a puck to the face, and one 🙂 point for coming back after getting stitched up; +4
Matt Niskanen: one for noticeably stepping up his game; +1
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist; +4
Jamie Benn: three for the goal and one for timing; +4
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: one welcome back! point; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the (very impressive) assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the (very impressive) goal and two for the assist; +5

October 10, 2009

Game Review – 10/09/09 (DAL @ CGY)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Calgary Flames came into this game as the hottest team in the league, looking to break their franchise record with another win for a 5-0 start. To do that, they’d have to get through the Stars, a team in adjustment looking for their first win of the season.

Despite the fact that Stars starting goalie has put up very good numbers in Calgary over the years, Crawford chose to sit Marty Turco and put Alex Auld in net against the Flames. It was welcome news to Stars fans, anxious to see if Dallas finally has a backup goalie that can be confidently given 20-30 games. The Flames, having played the night before, put in backup Curtis McElhinney instead of Miikka Kiprusoff.

Mike Modano (ribs), Jere Lehtinen (lower body), and Jeff Woywitka (healthy scratch) were also out, while Mark Fistric got to play in his first game of the season.

The plan for the game was to take advantage of a tired Flames team by pressuring early for a lead. Mike Ribeiro really took that concept to heart, scoring off a rebound only 62 seconds into the first. Robidas and Benn assisted. It was the first time in the 3 games that the Stars scored first.

A few minutes later, Matt Niskanen took a holding penalty, giving the Flames the PP that lead to their first real scoring chance of the game.

Keeping in mind that in the last game, the Oilers scored on the first power play, and that every time the Stars took a lead, Turco promptly gave up a goal, escaping that first PK unscathed was huge. Auld was calm and solid, making a number of saves in close to keep the Stars up by one.

In fact, Auld stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first, and Dallas left the first with a 1-0 lead.

The second period started much like the first. The Stars scored early (Sutherby from Petersen and Ribeiro) and a few minutes later were on the PK again. This time, the Flames scored thanks to a nice shot from Jay Bouwmeester.

Auld did not seem rattled, the Stars regrouped, and quickly extended their lead again thanks to a goal from one of their rookie forwards.

Surprisingly enough, the rookie that scored his first goal of the season against the Flames was not Jamie Benn but Tom Wandell, whose energetic efforts finally paid off. His linemate, Fabian Brunnstrom, and Stephane Robidas assisted.

Stars left the second period up 2-1.

Wandell’s line nearly struck again early in the third, when Steve Ott was pushed into McElhinney and Brunnstrom scored. However, the officials decided to call goalie interference on Ott, negating Brunnstrom’s tally and putting the Flames on a power play.

At 5:17 in the third, the Flames scored with the man-advantage for the last time to pull within one goal. Dallas responded to the disappointing call on Ott and the following goal with impressive determination. Auld locked it down, and the only line not to score yet stepped up to the plate.

Loui Eriksson earned his first goal of the season by beating out Bouwmeester for space in front of the crease and redirecting Richards’ shot into the net. Neal got the second assist, bringing his points streak to 3 goals and 1 assist in 3 games.

Calgary pulled their goalie late in the game in an attempt to tie it, but Richards got a shot off into the net past Dion Phaneuf to seal the deal at 5-2.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ribeiro, Robidas, Ott
  • Ribeiro and Richards each had a goal and an assist in the win.
  • Alex Auld stopped 21 of 23 shots and was not scored on at even strength.
  • It was appropriate that Joe Nieuwendyk’s first win as the Stars GM came against the team that traded him to Dallas in 1995.
  • Nicklas Grossman and Stephane Robidas were both on the ice for every single goal scored. Because both of the Flames’ goals came on the power play, both defensemen ended the game +5.
  • The Stars PK has been very generous, unfortunately, allowing 4 power play goals in the last 2 games.
  • Conclusion: The Flames were tired, McElhinney did not always look sharp. This was a game the Stars should have won, and… they did. Auld was strong and steady in net, quietly making saves in key moments. Benn and Wandell continued to impress. A good, well-deserved win, but the real test will be on Sunday.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the awesome +5; +2
Stephane Robidas: two for each assist and two for the awesome +5; +6
Jamie Benn: two for the assist and one for routinely prancing around Calgary’s best defensemen; +3
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: three for the goal, one for being one of the best players on the ice, but minus-one for his continuing struggles at winning faceoffs; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Alex Auld: two for being the solid, confident backup fans have been wanting; +2
Karlis Skrastins: two for more impressive shot blocking, especially on the PK; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Brad Richards: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

October 7, 2009

Game Review – 10/06/09 (DAL @ EDM)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars kicked off their first road trip of the season with a game in Edmonton, looking to claim their first victory after falling in the shootout to the Predators.

Games between the Stars and Oilers are always exciting, and this one did not disappoint. Fans were treated to a good old-fashioned battle of the goalies, with each netminder fighting to be the first to give their own fanbase a collective heart attack.

On one end was Nikolai Khabibulin, who consistently tried to thwart his own attempt at being the first Russian goaltender to reach 300 wins. On the other was Marty Turco, waving precariously between making last season look like a fluke and making Stars fans everywhere punch their TVs in frustration.

All of this was only amplified by two teams whose defense sometimes struggled to look coherent over the course of the game. Players for both sides repeatedly found themselves with plenty of free space in front of the net, giving them time to set up a shot or jam in rebounds. For the Stars, it was the defensemen who let their goalie down. For the Oilers, it was their forwards with some very nasty turnovers.

In the end, Khabibulin skated off with the win after his post stopped Neal in the shootout. As a result, Dallas fans are once again split over the play of Marty Turco. Did he get the Stars an extra point in each of the first two games, or did he cost them wins? Is he past his prime? Is he just finding his form? Do we panic?

This is why, instead of a typical game review, today’s is more of a goal breakdown.

The first goal of the game was on the Oilers’ first power play, scored by Mike Comrie:

This one had a lot to do with Robidas letting Comrie set up shop in front of Turco for half a century while he skated around watching Skrastins and Cogliano play. Unfortunately, Turco was watching the exact same thing and didn’t seem to notice in time that Cogliano was tossing the puck out in front. Skrastins failed to stop the pass, and it was in the net before Turco really even reacted.

Verdict: Someone on that PK needed to be paying attention to Comrie. That includes Turco. 5/10 on the Turco’s Fault? Meter.

The Stars then scored twice, the second time due largely to Turco springing James Neal on a SH breakaway.

However, that same PK that saw Neal scoring also saw the Oilers scoring. This time it was Sam Gagner.


That’s Gagner up in the corner, using Trevor Daley as a screen. The puck went right between Daley’s legs, then right through Turco’s. It was a rather impressive shot, and I bet Gagner is very good at miniature golf (right through the windmill for a hole-in-one!), but a slow-to-close five-hole is something Stars fans saw all too often last season.

Verdict: Daley is not exactly the largest screen, so a bigger goalie might have been able to see well enough to see the shot. However, it was still a very well-aimed goal on Gagner’s part. 5/10.

Towards the end of the period, the Stars regained their one goal lead only to promptly lose it. Again.

That is Dustin Penner. All alone. Nobody behind Turco to pass the puck to. That’s Woywitka and Ribeiro playing defense there. Ribeiro looks like he’s trying to cut off passing lanes and Woywitka is… cutting off more passing lanes. Penner, forced to retreat or shoot, shoots. For some unknown reason, Turco decides that’s a good time to drop and open up the entire half of the net.

Verdict: It seemed like Turco was expecting Woywitka to take the body so he was preparing to grab the puck. Still, he probably should have just held his ground instead of dropping so quickly. Maybe he gives up a rebound and everyone scrambles for the puck and maybe it still goes in anyway but maybe it doesn’t. 8/10.

For the third time in the game, the Stars recovered in time to take back their lead, and for the third time they lost it again.


The last goal of the game was pretty unfortunate, coming off a shot from Denis Grebeshkov that deflected off Nicklas Grossman’s skate and over Turco. There was a brief moment while everyone watched the puck rainbow into the net, and suddenly it was all tied up again.

Verdict: Turco saw the puck in time to swing back with his stick and try to bat it out of the air, but he missed. I’ve no doubt that spectacular in-the-zone Turco could have connected enough to keep it from going in, and it would have been amazing and stunning and glorious. However, it would be extremely unfair to actually blame him for that goal.  3/10.

Of course, both goalies held on through the end of the third and all of OT to force a shootout. The Hemsky GWG was just pretty lucky/unlucky, as it was sort of an accidental goal on both ends.

Conclusion: Three times, the Stars fought for a lead only to watch it go down the drain less than 7 minutes later. Turco coming up big on any one of the tying goals could have sealed the deal. Nobody should be upset about him not being Super Goalie in just the first two games, but with all this team adjustment from the new system… it’d be nice to see how they perform with a solid, positionally-sound goalie instead. Y’know, like Alex Auld.

Turco’s Fault? Meter:
It’s 52.5% Turco’s fault. You can try to hang this loss on Turco, but don’t expect it to stick very well.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Penner, Morrow, Gagner
  • Brenden Morrow looked like himself again, with two goals and an assist.
  • James Neal and Brad Richards led the team in SOG with 7 each.
  • Wandell and Brunnstrom moved up to the third line, replacing Modano (injured) and Petersen (fourth line). Brunnstrom looked like he’d made considerable strides defensively, finishing with an even +/- compared to his linemates’ combined -3. Meanwhile, Wandell led the team in SH TOI, but was not on the ice for either of the Edmonton PP goals.
  • The only player on the fourth line (Petersen-Sutherby-Barch) to accomplish anything was Barch, who had 3 hits, a fight, and a takeaway. Petersen and Sutherby combined for 1 SOG and 2 faceoff wins.
  • Jamie Benn got his first NHL point, assisting on Morrow’s first goal by turning the puck over to an Oiler who turned it over to Daley.
  • Steve Ott needs only 5 more PIM to pass Shane Churla for 3rd most by any Star. Anyone else want to see him get his minutes by taking on Iginla?
  • Conclusion: Don’t bother hitting the panic button. Chances are, it’s only a matter of time before Auld gets to start. If he does really well (meaning Turco might be more to blame for these losses after all), then yay! We’ve got a goalie in net who is doing really well! Besides, if you spend every game in fits about Turco, you’ll miss out on all the fun of freaking out over actually having impressive young talent to watch.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: three for the goal but minus-one for letting Comrie score uncontested; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist but minus one for screening his own goalie; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for each goal and two for the assist; +8
Krys Barch: two for taking on Souray and putting him in the box for five minutes but minus-one for losing the fight; +1
Jamie Benn: two for the assist and one because how he got that assist was rather amusing; +3
James Neal: three for the goal and one for style; +4
Tom Wandell: one for fitting in nicely as third line center; +1
Steve Ott: one for actually winning faceoffs, one for standing up for Grossman, but minus-one for being on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals against; +1
Marty Turco: two for the assist, one for the solid moments, but minus-one for the weak ones; +2
Karlis Skrastins: one for leading in blocked shots again; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for already looking less lost this season than he did all of last season; +1

October 4, 2009

Game Review – 10/03/09 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game Reviews are back! Because games are back! Because the season has started! Finally!

Game:

The Stars opened their season at home against the Nashville Predators and the Opening Night roster held a few surprises, especially for anyone who hadn’t been keeping up with training camp. Two rookies made the final cut: Jamie Benn, playing RW with Morrow and Ribeiro, and Tom Wandell, centering the fourth line with Barch and Brunnstrom. Mark Fistric, expected to finally get his first full year in the NHL, was a healthy scratch for newcomer Jeff Woywitka. Jere Lehtinen (injured) and Brian Sutherby (healthy scratch) did not play either.

Anyone that made it to both the Battle of the Stars and Opening Night might have noticed that the Texas Stars put on a better show when announcing the players, complete with flares and flames. The Dallas Stars just… stuck their Ice Girls on the ice and had them wave their poms around. Woo.

Anyway, eventually the puck dropped and the Predators started playing. The Stars found themselves on the PK and then scored on before two minutes had even passed, at which point it seemed to sink in that the season had started and it was time to play hockey.

Something worth noting: Wandell featured on the first PK unit for most of the night, and looked very good. His unit (with Modano, Robidas, and Skrastins) seemed to push the play to the perimeter and force the Predators into puck battles, while the second/third one (with Ott and Petersen) allowed more plays to develop before managing to break them up.

Though they outshot (14-9) Nashville and were handed a full minute of 5-on-3, the Stars were unable to capitalize and left the first period down 1-0.

Perhaps the most important play of the game for the Stars came about five minutes into the second period, when Sullivan threw the puck past a very floppy Marty Turco to put the Predators up 2-0.

This is important because this was the point last season when the Stars tended to crumble. Turco didn’t look sharp, they had missed out on a few golden opportunities (Ribeiro hit the post only a minute earlier on a chance to tie it), and nothing seemed to be going past Ellis.

Maybe it was having Morrow back, or because it was the first game of the season, or thanks to Crawford’s aggressive system, but Dallas responded admirably to the challenge. With half a game left to play, they dug in and put on the pressure.

Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist got a shot off at 15:46 from 57 feet out. In the following four minutes, the Stars limited the Predators to a single missed shot, while their only two shots were blocked  and never reached Ellis. It was Brunnstrom, flying down the wing, who finally cracked the defense and got a shot on net at 19:48 in the second. The rebound popped out in front of the net to James Neal, who scored in an Orr-like fashion with only 10 seconds left.

The third period started with the Stars racking up takeaways, shots on goal, and hits. Morrow drew a hi-sticking penalty 3:45, and it was during the following power play that the Dallas pressure finally paid off.

Only 15 seconds into the PK, Ellis attempted to clear the puck up the center of the ice. Eriksson, ever attentive, flew through the slot and nearly took it right off his stick. In his hurry to get it out of danger, Ellis flung the puck straight to Neal, who did not hesitate to tie the game.

For the next 8-9 minutes, Ellis made up for his fumble by pulling his team through two more Stars PPs and holding the tie while Dallas pushed for the win. It wasn’t until nearly 13 minutes into the third period that the Predators even got another shot on goal.

As overtime neared, the officiating got a little iffy, handing Richards a slashing penalty (really?) at 19:25 in the third.

The Stars hung on until 1:14 in OT, when it was evened out by a hooking call on Martin Erat.

If the call on Richards wasn’t frustrating enough, the officials really blew it in overtime when they managed to rob Neal of hat trick and the Stars of a win. They mistakenly assumed Ellis had the puck and blew the play dead far too quickly. In reality, the puck was free, and Neal had jumped on it and shoveled it into the net.

OT turned into a shootout. Ellis stood strong while Turco got a little floppy, Crawford put out some questionable shooters (injured Modano and not-so-great-at-shootouts Eriksson over Morrow, Benn, or Ott?), and the Predators skated away with the extra point.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ellis, Arnott, Neal
  • The Stars outshot the Predators 40-26. Brad Richards led the team with 8 SOG.
  • Dallas had an impressive 20 takeaways, compared to Nashville’s 7. The only skaters not credited with at least one were Barch, Neal, Ott, and Richards. Matt Niskanen led the team with 4.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom looked pretty good. He was the only player to end up a +1 and assisted on Neal’s first goal.
  • Surprisingly, Loui Eriksson ended up with no points and the only player to be a -1.
  • Morrow looked a little rusty and Benn looked a little disoriented at times (including one point where he couldn’t find the puck despite it being right at his feet), but overall that line was solid.
  • The Stars struggled on faceoffs, only winning 30 out of 67.
  • Stephane Robidas caught J.P. Dumont with his head down in the first period with a hit that removed him from the game entirely. However, the Tennessean is reporting that he was not seriously injured.
  • Conclusion: We expected the Stars to spend a few games adjusting to Crawford’s new system, breaking old habits and implementing new ones. It really only took them about half a period before they started to click as a team, and overall the effort was really impressive. There were some impressive, well-planned rushes that were a nice change from Tippett’s dump and (try to) chase.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: one for the hit on J.P. Dumont and one for showing so much concern when he realized he was hurt; +2
Matt Niskanen: one each for confidence and competence and one for holding his own on special teams; +3
Trevor Daley: one for utilizing his speed well; +1
Mike Modano: one pity point for getting hurt already; +1
Brenden Morrow: one big happy WELCOME BACK! point; +1
Jamie Benn: one congrats! you’re playing with big kids now! point; +1
James Neal: three for each goal, one for his lost hat trick, and one for reminding us how awesome he is; +8
Loui Eriksson: one for being good in puck battles, one for forcing the Ellis turnover, but minus-one for being the only Stars player to finish a -1; +1
Tom Wandell: one for being great on the PK and one for the SH breakaway with Skrastins; +2
Steve Ott: one for not gooning it up; +1
Alex Auld: one for getting all excited during the shootout; +1
Marty Turco: two for looking considerably better than last season but minus-one for losing it towards the end of the shootout; +1
Karlis Skrastins: one for pleasantly surprising us and one for the SH breakaway with Wandell; +2
Mike Ribeiro: one for scoring in the shootout; +1
Brad Richards: two for the assist, one for leading in shots with 8, and one for having hair; +4
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for being the only player to end with a +1; +3

October 3, 2009

Contract Info

by Chelsea

CapGeek.com has the breakdown of the new Eriksson and Robidas contracts.

An interesting note: Robidas has a lower cap hit than Eriksson, but will actually have a slightly higher salary in 2010-2011.