Brunnstrom's on fire; Stars get first win!
Maybe I should start bashing the Stars before every game, and they'll all score hat tricks.
Before the Stars-Preds game started, I claimed that the addition of Brunnstrom would cause shaky line combinations to give the Stars trouble. How did he answer me? With a hat trick in his very first game.
The Stars finally pulled out a win, and it couldn't have been sweeter. Mike Modano scored two goals and got an assist, including an empty-netter that gave him 530 goals for his career. Brad Richards had two assists, and Sean Avery picked up his first point as a Dallas Star. But the night belonged to Brunnstrom, who, after being scratched for the first two games and leaving his hype in question, decided that the Stars needed some offense and went ahead and became only the 3rd player in NHL history to score a hat trick in his debut.
- Steve Ott was out with an injury, and the line of Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, and Loui Eriksson didn't mesh all too well. The Stars need to find a way to have every line producing; once Jere Lehtinen comes back, the lines will be more even. I'm seeing:
Krys Barch would be the 13th forward, occasionally playing in place of Crombeen.
- Dave Tippett on Fabian Brunnstrom, pre-game: Brunnstrom is a very respectable guy, he had no problems with being scratched the first couple of games. The only thing he really needs right now is to understand how we play. Once he can play our kind of game, he'll stick for sure.
- One of the main reasons that Brunnstrom played so well was the fact that Dave Tippett wasn't afraid to give him plenty of ice time; he was out on the ice during the Stars' first power-play of the night.
- An interesting line combination that played well last night was that of James Neal, Mike Modano, and Brandon (B.J.) Crombeen. Neal and Crombeen each had assists on Modano's first goal of the night, along with bringing physical play and speed to the game. I'll be interested as to whether or not Tippett keeps that group together; it would be hard to find a sure place for Avery if he does. All of the sudden, Dallas has good depth on the right wing: Eriksson, Avery, and Lehtinen all deserve top-six spots and B.J. Crombeen could easily play in that group as well.
- A few questionable calls were made in front of the net during this game, but the good thing was that the refs kept their original decisions; they didn't review a questionable goalie-interference call on Brenden Morrow that canceled a goal for Loui Eriksson, and when the ref initially called Martin Erat's goal a good one, and then went to a review that was inconclusive, they stuck with the on-ice call.
- Toby Petersen has to be one of the more unappreciated guys in the NHL right now. He got all sorts of ice time last night, from the penalty-kill, to making a killer move around two Predator defenders to set up Fabian Brunnstrom's first NHL goal.
- After starting the season with poor power-play results, the Stars managed a power-play marker in this game after Mike's Ribeiro and Modano set up Stephane Robidas' slap-shot goal.
- Matt Niskanen showed the maturity of an NHL veteran when he stayed on the ice during a Stars penalty-kill despite taking a painful shot the leg. He played later in the game, so the injury wasn't so serious, but a less-experienced player might have rushed off the ice to make sure he wouldn't get hurt. Kind of reminiscent of Glen Wesley back in the '06 Cup Finals, in my opinion. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to prevent Radek Bonk from scoring a power-play goal.
- Three rookies scored their first NHL goal in this match; Patric Hornqvist had one heck of a cool-looking tip off of a slap-shot from Shea Weber. Ryan Jones showed his tough presence in front of the net by not giving up on a wild, bouncing puck, and eventually knocked it past Marty Turco for his first goal.
- Niskanen really redeemed himself, in my eyes, by his defensive play last night. He was one of the weaker-looking defenders in the Stars' first two games, but last night, he had several shot-blocks and defensive plays that really shined.
- Greg Zanon is perhaps the craziest, yet best, shot-blocking defenseman in the NHL. Not once, but twice in last night's game, he dropped down on the ice to stop a shot and was hit in the head with the puck. Both times, he didn't take long to come back and keep playing. He's giving Nashville a real hard time finding ice-time for Kevin Klein.
- Sean Avery isn't the best fit with Brad Richards, in my opinion. He can still play the body-guard role, but several times last night, I saw him recieve killer-passes from Brad Richards and fail to capitalize on them. Loui Eriksson is a much better fit, and we could see a lot of offense from the Stars second line if they go with a combination of Brunnstrom-Richards-Eriksson.
- Speaking of Greg Zanon getting hit in the head with the puck, it was that reason that Fabian Brunnstrom didn't have four goals last night.
Overall, this was a really strong game for the Stars. Despite giving up 4 goals, they never trailed in the game, and played with much more energy than in the first two games. Tonight, they'll be up against the St. Louis Blues. I don't think I can live-blog tonight's game either, but I'll do my best to get you coverage on everything that happened.