Posts tagged ‘Steve Mason’

February 16, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Since we’re going into the all-important last leg of the season with a team that’s had some serious momentum lately, I thought I’d start a new feature here at Stop Hitting Robidas. Andrew’s, ESPN, THN, and TSN all release their power rankings on Monday, so let’s take a look at where each of them has ranked the Stars, and their reasoning behind it.

Actual rank: 14th in league; 6th in West; 2nd in Pacific.
Record: 27-21-7. L10: 7-3-0.

Andrew’s by Mark Stepneski
Stars: 11 this week; 9 last week. Marty Turco, who has started a franchise-record 26 straight games, is at the top of his game right now for the Stars.”
Of Note: Anaheim at 16 this week; 15 last week. “Ducks, who have played just three games in nine days, give up a season-high eight goals in dismal loss to Atlanta Sunday night.”
My thoughts: Turco is the story of the week in Stars-land. Everyone seems amazed that he isn’t tired but it’s true – he’s playing his best hockey of the season right now. Of course, there is concern that he’ll exhaust himself by the time we get to the playoffs, but that’s something that will have to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis. If he keeps playing spectacularly, and Anaheim keeps dropping games (they’re 5-5-0 in their L10), the Ducks will find themselves continuing to wave up at us as we sit firmly at 2nd in the Pacific, and wouldn’t that be sweet?

ESPN by Joy Russo
Stars: 12 this week; 12 last week. “Why did defenseman Stephane Robidas recently describe goalie Marty Turco as ‘Superman’? The dude has made 26 straight starts for the Stars.”
Of Note: Vancouver at 11 this week; 17 last week. 27-21-8. “We may learn to regret giving the Canucks the jump this week, but they’ve won five of their past six games, even without Roberto Luongo looking spectacular in net.”
My thoughts: Interesting how much of the rankings in the west are goalie related. Not only do the Stars and Canucks get goalie-related calls, the Blue Jackets get a jump based on Mason coming back from mono (21 last week to 16 this week). In a bit of unfortunate irony, the Nucks jumped above us in ESPN’s power rankings on the day they sit a point above us in the conference.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 11 this week; 7 last week. “Consistent production from rookie Fabian Brunnstrom would sure help down the stretch.”
Of Note: Blue Jackets at 9; 19 last week. 6-3-1 L10. “Get ready for a March with meaningful games, Jackets fans.”
My thoughts: THN rarely elaborates on their choices the way ESPN does, but they’ve been generous with the Stars all season. I think 7th was a little too generous last week, but they hit the nail on the head with this week’s buzzword, “consistency.” If the Stars can’t keep it, they’re not going to keep that playoff seed. The return of Steve Mason to net for the Blue Jackets has everyone buzzing, and our game against him (oh, and the rest of the Jackets) tonight is going to be a big indicator for both teams.

TSN is running a little late with their power rankings this week, but I’ll update as soon as they post them.

What do you think? Where would you rate the Stars this week, and why?

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February 3, 2009

Game Review – 1/31/09 (DAL at CBJ)

by Chelsea

Questions:

Since 82 games = a lot of games to do in the same format over and over, I’ve been wondering if it’s getting monotonous to read. So what would the reader rather see? Comprehensive reviews like the Detroit one, or more topic-focused ones more like the Tampa Bay review?

Also, how about more posts like the Let’s Talk Stars or “Mike Ribeiro Wife Kids”. Would anyone respond? 

Or, how about more like the comparison post Kristine did awhile back? Anyone (besides me) feel like she should definitely do more of those? 

Game:

With both the Blue Jackets and the Stars looking to cement a spot in the West’s top 8, this game was a critical one to win. Going into the affair, the Jackets stood strong in the 7th spot, while the Stars looked in from the 9th. Vancouver and Minnesota, two teams also in contention, played each other that night, making the win even more valuable. 

Despite both Dallas and Columbus being defensively-minded teams, games between them always ended up as high-scoring affairs. The last time they faced off, James Neal fought Derick Brassard, whose season was ended in the scrum when his shoulder was dislocated, and Loui Eriksson got his first career hat trick. 

First period started.

Scoring opened at 5:58 when James Neal, assisted by Matt Niskanen and Mike Modano, collected a rebound and put it in the net behind rookie goalie sensation Steve Mason. 

It continued rather unfortunately for the Blue Jackets at 8:22, when Marty Turco made a great save and Loui Eriksson picked up the rebound. He moved undisrupted into their offensive zone and tried to pass the puck across the crease to linemate Brad Richards. Columbus defenseman Marc Methot successfully stopped the pass, but the puck went right back to Eriksson, who was able to catch Mason off-guard and score unassisted. 

Barely two minutes later, at 10:43, the Stars scored the last goal they’d get in on Mason.

In another slightly flukey incident, Manny Malhotra took a shot that rang off the post (one of many saves the pipes made in this game) and play turned away from Turco. The Stars were able to carry the puck into their zone, and while Eriksson’s shot was stopped by Mason, Brian Sutherby managed to stuff the rebound into the net, putting Dallas up 3-0 for the second game in a row.

Brad Richards got the second assist.

The goal was Sutherby’s first goal and point as a Star in 16 games, after being acquired from the Ducks for a prospect and conditional draft pick.

Columbus began their attempted comeback late in the period, when Kristian Huselius was allowed to walk the puck in on Turco and score unchallenged. Jan Hejda and Marc Methot got assists.

The period ended on a power play for the Jackets when Steve Ott and Rick Nash collided. The result was a knee-on-knee check (though possibly accidental; it didn’t appear from the replays that Ott stuck his leg out intending to catch Nash’s knee) and a tripping penalty for Ott. Immediately following the incident, Methot tried to fight Ott, who couldn’t drop the gloves because of his broken hand. Though the scrum was mostly Ott holding on and absorbing blows, both players were given roughing minors.

First period ended. Steve Mason had been pulled from the game (and sat on the bench looking barely tired and pretty peeved) after letting in 3 goals on 8 shots, and was replaced by in net Wade Dubielewicz.

Second period started.

Stars PK tried to keep the Jackets from further hacking at was had been a 3-goal lead, but Fedor Tyutin was able to beat Turco with a power play slap shot from the point only 1:38 into the period.

He was assisted by Huselius and Nash.

Now looking at losing their lead entirely as the Blue Jackets picked up their lost momentum, it was Turco who kept the Stars in the game until they found their feet again. He made some key saves to hold the score at 3-2, and finally got some backup from rookie James Neal. 

His second goal of the night came at 13:29 in the second, and looked very much like his first. After utilizing his size well to bully himself a spot in front of the crease, Neal collected a rebound off Modano’s shot and put it in past Dubielewicz. Then he ran himself into the glass and screamed “Yeah!”, which I’m sure the Jackets fans appreciated.

Chris Conner got the second assist, his second point in two games.

Ott made sure to rub some salt in the wound at 18:58 of the second, irritating Columbus fans by scoring instead of getting further mauled for his hit on Nash. His goal was also off a loose rebound, this time aided by Jere Lehtinen and Mike Ribeiro.

The period ended 5-2 Stars, despite Columbus outshooting them 25-22 over the first two periods.

Third period started. 

Once again, the Blue Jackets came out strong and applied pressure, and were once again rewarded for their hard work. 

This one was a garbage goal by Jared Boll, which he had to celebrate from his back after Matt Niskanen flattened him. It came at 4:34 in the third, was assisted by Jason Williams and Fredrik Modin, and was basically worth it to see Niskanen respond to a goal by knocking the scorer over. Or whatever it was he was actually trying to do. 

The goal meant that the fourth Stars goal, aka Neal’s, would eventually be the game winning goal – a description accurate under multiple definitions. 

The fun was not over, though.

First, at 7:10 in the third, Trevor Daley scored his sixth goal of the season by beating Dubielewicz with a slap shot. Toby Petersen and Darryl Sydor assisted. It marked a career-high in goals for the defenseman, whose previous best was 5 goals in 82 games last season.

Then, at 18:02, Andrew Hutchinson got HIS first goal as a Star and first of the season. It was assisted by Nicklas Grossman and James Neal.

Columbus pushed back in the final minutes of the game, and in holding them off, Sydor took a shot to the ankle that saw him leaving the game. Still, they were unable to score, and the game ended 7-3 Stars.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Neal, Sydor, Modano
  • Krys Barch, despite getting 8 teeth mauled by Chris Chelios and getting five root canals a few days before, did not miss the game and logged 10 minutes worth of ice time. 
  • The win bumped the Stars up to the 7th spot in the West and knocked Columbus down to the 9th. A loss from the Oilers the day after moved them down a spot, putting the Stars up into the 6th spot.
  • James Neal saw his second 3-point night of the season, with two goals and an assist.
  • It was announced after the game that Columbus goalie Steve Mason has mononucleosis, but has not missed a game and will be starting again in their next game. Hopefully, he’s not really all that sick, because starting your 2o-year-old goalie in back-to-backs when he’s fighting mono and then again three days later… that’s iffy.
  • Conclusion: The Stars got their fourth win in a row, putting them into a very fragile playoff spot. While it was no easy task getting that spot, it seems like it will only get harder and harder to hold onto it. Taking advantage of their home-filled February will be key, and if they give up that opportunity entirely, they really don’t deserve that playoff spot anyway.

SHR +/-: 

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist and two for tying for the lead in hits and blocked shots; +4
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist, one for tying the lead in blocked shots, and one for ending the game +3; +4
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3
Mike Modano: two for each assist and one for ending the game +3; +5
Krys Barch: two for playing with a majorly busted-up mouth and still having a good game; +2
Toby Petersen: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: three for each goal, two for the assist, and one for finally looking like he cares again; +9
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and one for finally getting it; +4
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Landon Wilson: one for finally starting to skate again even if he can’t play in games yet; +1
Chris Conner: two for the assist and one for ending the game +3; +3
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchison: three for the goal and one for finally getting it; +4
Steve Ott: three for the goal but minus-one for the questionable hit and following penalty; +2
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and two for having a really good game; +4
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2

January 20, 2009

Game Review – 1/19/09 (DAL at TBL)

by Chelsea

We’re Calling You Out, Mr. Turco:

On one end of the ice, a young goaltender who has at least four bad giveaways, chucks the puck up the ice instead of passing it, and faced six PKs.

On the other end of the ice, a grizzled veteran goalie who had an alright night handling the puck, and only faced 2 PKs.

Bet you can’t guess which one was the one to have a dumb puck-get moment and surrender a goal, or to have his five-hole thoroughly ravaged. 

One team held the other to only 20 shots against and was disciplined in only taking two penalties.

The other team was subjected to 25 shots and took six penalties. 

Bet you can’t guess which goalie let in 3 goals (on 19 shots – there was one SOG/Goal on an empty net) and which only let in two.

Bet you can’t guess which goalie locked it down after five minutes into the second period and which one let in three goals in the last ten minutes of play.

Confused yet? Surely, Turco came out on top, besting his old backup goalie with his superior puckhandling and puckstopping abilites. Surely! 

Oh, boo. Taking nothing away from the Stars’ rancid special teams (6 PPs – 1 TBL goal and 1 DAL goal. 2 PKS – 1 TBL goal), but everybody already knows the facts about that. Stars suck on the road, Stars can’t score on the road, Stars PP on the road is the worst in the league. We got it, nobody’s denying anything.

But how about that starter goalie? We’ve blamed bad defense, lack of teamwork, lack of consistency, even lack of a strong back-up goaltender. Then when the Stars win, we generally praise Turco and ramble on about how it looks like he’s finally returned to form.

Sometimes, it seems like he has. Sometimes, he makes crazy saves. We call that “bad with flashes of great”, though, not “great with flashes of bad”. 

The fact is, his sv% right now is .916 in wins. Last year, that number was .939, and actually has never been as bad as it is currently. Compared to the top goaltenders right now, that’s a dismal number. Tim Thomas averages a .914 in losses. Steve Mason is .950 in wins and .904 in losses. Turco, in losses, is a questionable .879.

 

 

But the bad defense!

That bad defense you reference is certainly not on par with Detroit or San Jose, but it stands beside them for Shots Against/Game. Actually, the Stars have the third best SA/G in the entire league. I suppose you could argue that Dallas doesn’t let in many shots, but the majority are quality scoring chances – but that’s a pretty daring assumption. Another fun fact: the Stars have allowed less than 20 SA in 8 separate occasions, and 3 of those were in October. One of them was this game.

Turco has only had 16 games with a sv% over .900 this season. Only 14 with a GAA at 2.o0 or under. Looking into it further, you see that out of those 16 games, the team allowed between 25-30 shots against in 7 of them. That seems to be his magic number; few enough so that he doesn’t let in 6 goals, but plenty enough so that each goal doesn’t do too much damage to his sv%.

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, member of the 2nd best team in the league for GA/G, has a season sv% of .907. Games in which he reached the .900 mark range from 11 SA to 36. Does the “magic number” apply to all goalies? It doesn’t appear to.

Enough about stats, though. How about the fact that Turco and the team no longer seem to trust each other?

In each game, the team looks a little more desperate. They scramble into the crease to “help out” Turco at every chance, or they put themselves out of position in an attempt to block a shot Turco should be able to save (and end up screening him in the process). When they start losing, they fall apart, because they’re all trying to do everything and cohesiveness is lost.

Conversely, Turco can be seen scurrying behind his net at every opportunity. This includes (but is not excluded to) times when: there are at least 2 Stars within reach of the puck, a Star nearly has the puck, a Star is intending to circle around and claim the puck, and when there are none of the opposition but all of his team around to retrieve it.

Take, for instance, the Stamkos goal. Turco tries to lean around his net to poke the puck away from a Lightning player who is being pressured by a Star. He gets his stick tangled in their skates, loses it, looks to retrieve it, the puck gets centered and he scrambles to get into position, but far too late. 

How about how tired he looks?

He’s given up 9 goals in the third period, just in the last five games.

He’s given up 4 third period goals in the five games before that.

In the five games before that, he gave up 6 in the third.

That’s 19 third period goals in the 15 games since Stephan had his last start. And it appears to be getting worse. Tippett is trusting that the ASG break will give him a chance to rest, but it’s expecting a lot for him to go another 40 games after that without one. He’s only human. 

Assuming we reach the playoffs, I can almost guaranteed that Turco will be too worn out to power the team past the first round. Maybe that’s just the problem; the playoff run in the spring has worn him out, and he needs someone to share duties with. Osgood and Fleury, who met up in the Stanley Cup Finals, are both struggling to find their form as well.

Either way, Turco needs to acknowledge his limitations and do something about it. Even if that means asking to sit and let Stephan play. Risking a handful of games seems smarter than risking your star goaltender in the long run.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Lecavalier, Richards, Eminger
  • The game was the first meeting between the Lightning and the Stars since the blockbuster deadline trade last year that saw Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist to Dallas and Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, and Mike Smith to Tampa Bay.
  • Dallas gave up its first SH goal of the season, to Vincent Lecavalier, in the first period.
  • Loui Eriksson’s goal was his first in five games and second in the last eight.
  • Conclusion: We actually don’t blame Marty Turco entirely, but the Stars would be much better prepared to deal with their other issues if he could lead the charge by locking it down. Hopefully the players-only meeting following this loss produced some solutions.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist, one for leading in blocked shots and one for covering Lecavalier like the All-Star he is; +4
Matt Niskanen: minus-one for the untimely penalty; -1
Trevor Daley: one for being the only Star to end in the positive for +/-: +1
Mike Modano: two for the assist, one for winning 88% of his faceoffs, but minus-two for all the turnovers on PP; +1
James Neal: one for leading in hits; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and one for persistence; +4
Jere Lehtinen: one for tying for the team lead in shots on goal; +1
Marty Turco: see first part of post; -1
Mark Parrish: two for the assist; +2
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for the assist, one for tying for the team lead in shots on goal, but minus-two for being unable to win a PP faceoff; +4

 


January 9, 2009

Congratulations to Our All-Stars!

by Kristine

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Mike Modano will be playing in his seventh All-Star Game at the end of the month. It’s special for him because Montreal is where he played his first ASG sixteen years ago.

The All-Star break will also be exciting for Modano’s younger counter-part James Neal, who was named to the YoungStars roster this morning. He’s in good company with the likes of Kris Versteeg, Blake Wheeler, Steven Stamkos, and Steve Mason for the rookies and Milan Lucic, Kris Letang, and Nicklas Backstrom for the sophomore team.

It’s so nice to see the league recognize two players that, to me as a Stars fan, obviously deserve the recognition. It’s especially satisfying to see Neal in the YoungStars game – it’s nice to see that the league is paying as much attention to him as we are here in Dallas. As for Modano, it’s impossible to argue that he is not deserving on all levels. Sure, you could say he’s a legacy pick, but he’s also had a great season and people are noticing that he’s playing like he’s half his age.

The Rookies vs Sophomores YoungStars Game will be Saturday, January 24 and the All-Star Game will be Sunday, January 25. The SuperSkills Competition will also be held on the 24. Set your DVRs now!