Posts tagged ‘Vancouver Canucks’

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

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April 11, 2009

SHR +/- “OMG Are We Really That Far Behind?” Catch-up

by Chelsea

When the Stars were pretty much eliminated (and then officially eliminated), we kinda went “so what’s the plan for the blog in the postseason, then?” and basically fell asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, we’ve also sorely neglected our duties (like the +/-) for the end of the regular season.

On that note, here are the +/-s for the large handful of games we were missing.


3/24/09 – DAL vs VAN:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: one for sticking up for Turco; +1
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal; +3
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson: two for having a ridiculous 7 takeaways and 0 giveaways; +2
Mark Fistric: two for the assist but minus-one for his exceptionaly careless penalty; +1
Steve Ott: minus-two for acting like a thug instead of helping his team; -2
Marty Turco: minus-two for not helping his teammates out and making only 17 saves on 21 shots; -2
Steve Begin: two for the assist; +2


3/26/09 – DAL vs LAK:

Stephane Robidas: one for playing 27:01 to pick up Daley’s slack when he went out; +1
Trevor Daley: one 😦 point for getting injured; +1
Krys Barch: one for standing up for Daley and one 😦 point for getting hurt in the process; +2
Landon Wilson: two for getting nine really solid hits; +2
Jere Lehtinen: one for the shootout goal; +1
Mark Fistric: two for a really solid game; +2
Marty Turco: three for pitching a shutout and earning the team a point, but minus-one for an iffy shootout performance that lost them the other point; +2


3/28/09 – DAL vs FLA

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: 😦 ; +1
Matt Niskanen: three for the goal; +3
Brendan Morrison: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist and two for not having any giveaways for the sixth game in a row; +4
Chris Conner: three for the goal; +3
Mark Fistric: 😦 ; +1
Steve Ott: two for the assist but minus-two for continuing to act like a thug; +0
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for the assist, but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +4


3/30/09 – DAL at PHX:

Dan Jancevski: one welcometoDallas! point; +1
Matt Niskanen: two for each assist; +4
Brendan Morrison: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal; +3
Chris Conner: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Andrew Hutchinson: three for the goal; +3
Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Garrett Stafford: two for each assist and one welcometoDallas! point; +5
Darryl Sydor: three for the goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +5


3/31/09 – DAL at LAK:

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
Brendan Morrison: three for each goal; +6
James Neal: minus-one for being overrated; -1
Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Andrew Hutchinson: one for the solid game; +1
Steve Ott: two for each assist; +4
Marty Turco: one for playing decently; +1
Steve Begin: one for getting six hits; +1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, one for style, but minus-one for STILL stinking at faceoffs; +3


4/02/09 – DAL at CGY:

Matt Niskanen: one for learning how to get more than one (probably accidental) hit in a game and one for leading the team in shots on goal; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for a decent showing; +1
Joel Lundqvist: two for the assist: +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for scoring the team’s only goal and one for style; +4


4/04/09 – DAL vs STL

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: three for the goal and one for saving the game in the third period; +4
Mike Modano: two for the assist; +2
James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal; +6
Tom Wandell: two for each assist; +4
Chris Conner: minus-one for being the only one with a -2; -1
Steve Ott: three for the goal and one for not being thug-Ott anymore; +4
Darryl Sydor: two for the assist and one for being an impressive +4; +3
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2


4/07/09 – DAL at MIN:

Steve Ott: two for the assist; +2
Ivan Vishnevskiy: one welcometoDallas! point; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist but minus-one for really really stinking at faceoffs; +1
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


4/09/09 – DAL at COL:

Loui Eriksson: two for the assist; +2
Tom Wandell: one for improving at faceoffs; +1
Mark Fistric: two for the assist; +2
Mark Parrish: three for the goal; +3
Ivan Vishnevskiy: two for the assist and one for having a wicked shot from the point; +3
Mike Ribeiro: one for that shootout goal and one for style; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal; +3


4/10/09 – DAL at ANA:

Last-game-of-the-season special edition.

Nicklas Grossman: one for leading in hits and two for having stepped up big-time as a physical stay-at-home defenseman; +3
Stephane Robidas: one 😦 point for having not gotten to play the last few games of the season, two for carrying the entire defense on his shoulders all year, and one for escaping this season with his nose intact; +4
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for finally showing that he can play without his training wheels (Sydor); +3
Trevor Daley: one 😦 point for having not gotten to play the last few games of the season and one for stepping into the #2 role nicely; +2
Mike Modano: two for his age-defying efforts at the beginning of the season and one don’t-end-your-career-this-way-please point; +3
Brenden Morrow: five points for how ridiculously sorry we are that the Stars didn’t push their season far enough to allow Morrow to come back and play; +5
Brendan Morrison: one thankyou point for stepping up and scoring PPGs when nobody else could; +1
Krys Barch: one 😦 point for missing the last games of the season and two for being the trustworthy (and frightful) Stars cop; +3
Sean Avery: one thankyou point for finding somewhere really far from Dallas and staying there, but minus-six for sticking us with half of that bloated contract and getting what he wanted in the end anyway; -5
Toby Petersen: one 😦 point for having missed the last few games of the season; +1
James Neal: minus-one point for the mixture of severe tunnel-vision (“puckpuckpuckpuckpuck”) and ego (“RAHHH I’M JAMES NEAL”) that lead to him being less-than-effective as the season went on but two determination points for having still tried; +1
Brian Sutherby: two points for coming onto the team from a rival, being willing to work hard, and making a place for himself; +2
Loui Eriksson: one for ending the season on a thirteen-game streak of not having a single giveaway, two for leading the team in goals and for being the 3o-goal-scorer we needed when Morrow went out, one for leading the team in +/-, and one for escaping injury and not missing a single game all season; +5
Landon Wilson: two for being dependable, stepping up as someone who gave 100% when the rest of the team looked mentally exhausted, and putting up with getting scratched way too often; +2
Tom Wandell: one for being a Swedish rockstar; +1
Chris Conner: one for constantly creating chances with his surprising speed; +1
Jere Lehtinen: one for leading the team with 8 shots on goal, one for being the Legendary Leaping Lehtinen, and two please-please-please-take-a-hometown-discount-because-we’d-cry-if-the-Stars-let-you-go points; +4
Andrew Hutchinson: two thankyou points for going from healthy scratch to dependable veteran when Robidas and Daley went out, and doing it admirably; +2
Mark Fistric: one for coming back up from the AHL as the hard-hitting defenseman we all remembered from last year’s playoffs and one for not backing his butt up into Turco’s face as a “defensive maneuver” anymore; +2
Steve Ott: three for each goal, two for the assist, one for the highly-entertaining clip of him sitting on the bench making faces at the Ducks through the plexiglass, and two for growing into a better player and leader; +11
Tobias Stephan: two 😦 points for ending up as the #3 goalie and not getting a decent chance to prove himself because Tippett is stubborn and used Stephan’s career to make a point which is dumb and we could rant about it all day but won’t, two hopeful points for moving on from the Stars after this season, and one sad goodbye point; +5
Marty Turco: minus-one for apparently going from a good shootout goalie to a super-impatient flop-across-the-crease one, minus-two for being Mr. Inconsistent all season, but one for taking responsibility for it, two for his strong play in the middle of the season, and one for showing enough flashes of awesome that we’re reminded there’s still an All-Star under there somewhere; +1
Mark Parrish: two for seeming to have an unbeatable optimistic attitude and two because we have a feeling he won’t be around next season and would be very very sad to see him go; +4
Joel Lundqvist: one 😦 point for having not really come back from his shoulder injury as the Lundqvist we remembered from last season and two because we’re worried Sutherby stole his spot and we’d be very sad to see him go; +3
Phillipe Boucher: two because he is awesome even if he has to play for the Penguins; +2
BJ Crombeen: yaayyyy at least one of our rookies gets a chance at the Cup this season; +2
Steve Begin: two points for sacrificing himself on the PK every night and being a very solid player for the Stars; +2
Darryl Sydor: one 😦 point because he missed the last period of the season, another because his future with the Stars is so uncertain, and one for being Niskanen and then Vishnevskiy’s training wheels; +3
Sergei Zubov: three pleeeeasseee-take-a-hometown-discount-and-come-back-next-season-our-PP-needs-you-so-bad points; +3
Ivan Vishnevskiy: two for the assist and one for looking a little bit like a baby Zubov out there; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist, minus-one for the dumb penalties, one for leading the team in points and matching his assists from last year, and one for (thankfully!!) not missing a single game all season; +5
Brad Richards: one 😦 point for the tragic comedy that is his injury situation, one for being an important player when he was playing, and one for proving us wrong about his importance by showing us what happens to the team when he’s not there; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for ending the season by playing impressive hockey and showing everyone a preview of what they can look forward to next season; +6

March 21, 2009

NHL Overall Team +/- Examination

by Kristine

The Stars take on the Sharks tonight, but before they do I’d just like to point something out. Everyone knows that +/- doesn’t tell the whole story. However, I think it does tell some of the story. For example, check out what you find when you compare the overall team +/- score for the top five and bottom five teams in the league, with the Stars thrown in the middle…

1. DET   +177
2. SJS   +112
3. BOS   +281
4. NJD   +218
5. WSH   +110

21. DAL   -40

26. PHX    -163
27. COL   -188
28. ATL   -93
29. TBL   -148
30. NYI   -220

Obviously a team’s overall +/- is more related to the success of the team than people may realize.

Last season the Stars ended +85 and 8th in the league. In an even more drastic change, Colorado ended +73 and 10th in the league. First place Detroit ended +235 and last place Tampa ended -148. 21st place went to the Cancucks, who finished the season with a +2. Of course, there are anomonlies, almost entirely on the negative side – the Sharks finished second in the league last season, but with a -3; the Oilers finished with a horrid -156 but managed to pull 19th place overall. However, the basic trend is that the higher in the standings a team is, the better its plus-minus is going to be, and vice versa. So is having a strong team plus-minus the key to regular season success? I don’t claim to know for sure either way, but it’s an interesting stat to take into account.

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 24, 2009

Power Rankings Round-Up

by Kristine

Power rankings were updated yesterday, and I’m interested to see how the hockey world feels about the Stars now that our depth up front has been depleted even further with the loss of Brad Richards. Let’s take a look…

Actual rank: 16th in league; 7th in West; 2nd in Pacific.
Record: 29-23-7. L10: 5-5-0.

Andrew’s by Mark Stepneski
Stars: 11 this week; 11 last week. “Stars suffer another big injury when Brad Richards goes out 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist. Stars are 13-3-1 in last 17 home games.”
Of Note: St. Louis at 23 this week; 23 last week. “The Blues continue to pick up points to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They are 9-3-5 since the middle of January.”
My thoughts: The truth is that Richards’ injury hurts us almost worse than Morrow’s knee injury. There’s so little time left in the season, and our depth at forward is already so depleted, that there’s virtually no adjustment period. We either keep playing well, or lose the playoff spot.  It’s been a rough start to Life Without Richards, with losses to the Hawks and Sharks, but facing the Blues on Thursday will give us another chance to stay in the race. In theory, beating them sounds easy, but the key is not looking at this as an easy two points.

ESPN by Jim Wilkie
Stars: 11 this week; 12 last week. “Rookie call-up Ray Sawada, 24, got a goal in his NHL debut Thursday as he tries to follow the paths of capable Stars youngsters James Neal and Loui Eriksson.”
Of Note: Chicago at 7 this week; 7 last week. “Chicago forward Patrick Kane has four goals and four assists in four games (all victories) against the Stars this season.”
My thoughts: First of all, Patrick Kane loves Mo, so it’s no surprise that he plays well against the Stars. It reminds me of Ribeiro playing well against Gretzky’s team. ESPN was the only one this week to focus on Sawada and the rest of the Stars youth. If there’s been a high point to this season, it’s been watching Neal, Eriksson, and Brunnstrom come in and be so awesome. We’ve also gotten to see great outings from call-ups Tom Wandell and, as ESPN points out, Raymond Sawada.

The Hockey News by Ryan Dixon
Stars: 13 this week; 11 last week. “With key players Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow out of the lineup, Mike Ribeiro has driven the Dallas attack with 18 points over his past 16 games.”
Of Note: Vancouver at 7 this week; 14 last week. “Just one regulation loss in their past 10 and Roberto Luongo still hasn’t completely found his game.”
My thoughts: While the Stars have been bouncing around between the 5th, 6th, and 7th seed, the Canucks have been flying upwards and are now firmly 5th in the West. THN hits the nail on the head when they say that Ribeiro has been leading our offensive charge lately. He’s one of a few players who have been stepping up more and more this season; a list that also includes Steve Ott, Nicklas Grossman, Stephane Robidas, and of course Loui Eriksson. It’s old news around here, but it’s still good to see.

TSN
Stars: 19 this week; 20 last week. “Given the Stars’ turnaround since shipping out Sean Avery, let’s turn to Texas native Matthew McConaughey and one of his many chick flicks, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days and a quote that can be directed towards Stars co-GM Brett Hull, ‘You see, the key to this game is being able to read people.’ Key Injuries: C Brad Richards (wrist).”
Of Note: Edmonton at 20 this week; 17 last week. “The world might not depend on the Oilers making the playoffs, but they seem to hit enough obstacles on the way to make an Armageddon comparison reasonable. Like the Roughnecks saving the planet from an asteroid, if the job is going to get done for this year’s Oilers, it’s going to be up to the young guys to come through in the clutch.  Key Injuries: D Denis Grebeshkov (ankle).”
My thoughts: In honor of the Oscars, TSN related each ranking to its own movie this week. It’s an interesting premise that doesn’t mean jack in the long run, but you’ve got to give TSN credit for trying to merge hockey and chick flicks. Honestly, as much as TSN is negatively biased against the Stars, I’m surprise we moved up instead of down with Richards out of the lineup. It’s probably because they focused on the Stars without Avery instead of the Stars without Richards. They’re right that Sean Avery was a fiasco here, but enough about him. He was a mistake, but he wasn’t the only reason the Stars started the season so badly. It’s time to bury the excuses once and for all and move on. The point TSN makes about the Oilers sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Injuries depleting a team, youth stepping up, fighting for a playoff spot… The Stars did it so don’t discount the Oilers. They’re sitting in the 9th seed right now, but they have 63 points in 59 games played. If they win their next game, they’ll bump the Wild out of the 8th spot. It’s a tight race and it’d be a mistake not to keep an eye on them.

To recap, we moved up one spot in two rankings, stayed dead even in one of them, and dropped two spots in the last. It’s better than I expected, given the bumpy road we’ve followed in the last week, but it’s disappointing to still not be considered a real threat.

What are your thoughts? Please don’t hesitate to comment. I know you people read this! Don’t be so shy! We love hearing your thoughts. 🙂

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?

February 14, 2009

Game Review – 2/13/09 (DAL vs VAN)

by Chelsea

Game:

For the third time in the last five games, the Stars played hard and still gave up the first goal. For the second time in those games, they picked themselves up and battled on to pull out the win.

For the fourth time in the six February games, the other team would only manage to get one goal by Turco before he locked it down. If he’s tired, it isn’t showing.

Unfortunately, it was also the second time in as many games that the Stars offense struggled. With the top players coming off up up to 8-game point streaks, nothing was going in. After getting shut out in their last game, it took the Stars half-way through the second period to finally get a goal. The posts were not cooperating, rejecting at least a couple of Jere Lehtinen’s shots. Both Modano and Neal missed open nets.

In fact, 1/3 of the points they picked up in assists and goals came from Matt Niskanen and Marty Turco. Not exactly known for their offensive capability. Meanwhile, points leaders like Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro were held off the board entirely. 

Though, I attribute that to the fact that it was unofficially Swedes Night in Dallas. There were nine Swedish players between the two teams, and they were the ones that produced the most. Loui Eriksson lead them all with a goal and an assist for the night, including his set-up of fellow Swede Joel Lundqvist, who scored his first of the season. Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Swedes combined for 9 shots on goal and 5 hits. 

Speaking of hits, the Stars outhit the Canucks 45-34. I don’t keep track, but that’s got to be one of the highest hit totals for Dallas all season. Five players (Ribeiro, Lundqvist, Sutherby, Neal, Barch) had at least five hits. Ribeiro’s check on someone (Ohlund?) at the end of the first definitely should have been put on the highlight reel.

In the end, though, it really came down to the goaltending. 

LaBarbera was excellent again, filling in for Roberto Luongo. Luckily for us, though, Turco was one goal better. It’s very nice to be able to say again that Turco stole a game for us. With the kind of pressure that Vancouver was applying, it’s clear that we would have lost that game had it not been for his netminding. When he’s on his game, he’s practically unstoppable. However… when he lets in the third shot that the opposition takes, there’s still that little catch, and you can’t help but wonder if he’s suddenly back to being that Turco again. 

It was a good win though. Despite the struggles offensively, the team stayed together and earned their two points. Turco and Eriksson were game-winners in every sense of the word.

Sidenote: Tobias Stephan played his third game with his (hopefully) temporary AHL team, stopping 21 of 22 shots to help his team to a 4-1 win. He’s now 3-0-0 since being sent down, and was named second star of the game. 

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: minus-one for his penalty trifecta; -1
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for an all-around good game; +3
Mike Modano: two for the assist and one for being the only center that won most their faceoffs; +3
Krys Barch: one for delivering five hits; +1
James Neal: one for effort, one for delivering six hits, but minus-one for being able to only hit the post now and never the net; +1
Brian Sutherby: two for delivering a team-high seven hits; +2
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Steve Ott: one for delivering five hits; +1
Tobias Stephan: two for his awesomeness in the AHL; +2
Marty Turco: three for the good goaltending, two for the assist, and one for stealing the win; +6
Joel Lundqvist: three for the goal, one for finally getting it, and two for the look he gave Ric when he brought up how long it’d been in the postgame show; +6
Mike Ribeiro: one for delivering five hits but minus-one for losing so many faceoffs; +0
Brad Richards: minus-one for being absolutely awful at taking faceoffs; -1
Fabian Brunnstrom: one because we’re still so happy that he’s back to playing again; +1

January 27, 2009

Game Day Update

by Kristine

Now that the excitement of the All-Star Game has died down, it’s back to business for the Stars. The biggest news of the day comes from Andrew’s, who reports that Fabian Brunnstrom will be playing a few games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) and is expected back in the lineup this weekend at Columbus. Great news! Bunny brings a certain spark to games that we feel has been missing since he’s been out. It’s interesting that he’s being sent down for a few games when they were so adamant about not sending him down at the beginning of the season, but it will be good for him to get up to speed and get his game legs back before he returns at the NHL level. Not to mention he’ll be in good hands – the Moose are second in the entire AHL, behind only Washington’s farm team the Hershey Bears and down by only one point.

On to tonight. It’s a big game day if you look at the standings. A lot of the games involve teams we are currently battling with for that elusive 8th seed – not surprising when you consider almost the entire West is in the running for it. First up, Columbus takes on Detroit. It wouldn’t do us many favors for Detroit to win, because we play them Thursday. However, not only do we play the Blue Jackets this weekend, they’re also currently sitting one spot above us with 49 points. So they need to lose more than Detroit needs to lose. Next up, Minnesota hosts Toronto tonight. Obviously, the Leafs need to win this one. Minnesota is 9th in the West with 49 points. Later in the night, San Jose will be paying the Avalanche a visit. Even though the Sharks are in our division, we have no real hope of catching up to them; the Avalanche, however, are 12th with 47 points. The Stars, for the record, also have 47 points and have played two fewer games than the Avs, winning us the 11th spot in the West. While the Sharks and Avs fight it out, the Oilers will be taking on the Sabres. The Oil is another team battling for a playoff spot, only they’re fighting to keep theirs. They’re 6th in the West with 51 points, but 7th and 8th place Canucks and Ducks also have 51 points. A loss tonight would keep them within reach for the Stars. Finally, in the biggest lose-lose of the night, the Coyotes are hosting the Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. Both teams are in playoff seeds as it stands now. The Coyotes are 5th with 53 points and the Ducks are 8th with 51 points. If anything, it would be most beneficial to the Stars for the Coyotes to win as they are at least a little farther ahead already and thus a little harder to catch up to.

Now for the Big Ifs. If we win tonight, and if the Jackets and the Wild both lose, the Stars will be tied with them for 49 points. As we have fewer games than both of them, that would put us at 9th place, and one win out of the playoffs. Continuing hypothetically, if the teams that need to lose continue to lose, and the Stars beat Detroit on Thursday, we’ll have 51 points and fewer games than Edmonton, Vancouver, and Anaheim – landing us firmly in the 6th spot. So now that we know what needs to happen short-term for the Stars to claim their playoff seed, it’s time to tidy up your shrines and start making offerings to the hockey gods.  You can start by asking for a win tonight at the AAC. Go Stars!

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

October 31, 2008

Tonight’s NHL Results

by Kristine

For a summary of the wins and losses from Thursday’s games, including team points, click the link below.

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