11.21.2008

Blackhawks ruined my first AAC game




FFTI's debut at a Dallas home game was spoiled by a superb effort from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Man, there were so many mistakes by the Stars, I can't even list them all.


For once, fortunately, none of the goals were the direct result of turnovers. Instead, much of the problem was a lack of willingness by the defense to block shots. I only saw a few players block shots purposely. It was great to see Morrow play the captain's role and take a hard shot right to the foot, stick with the play and get the puck out of the zone, all while on the penalty kill. Too bad not many of the defensemen followed his example.

Turco—I'm still confused as to why everyone but him seems to realize that he'd benefit from staying in his net more often. I know a lot of the fans at the game expressed displeasure whenever he stepped out, and my uncle is just so annoyed by Turco's play in general that he's suggested trading Turco. Honestly, I might agree; Stephan is a good goalie, and there are a good amount of goalies out there who could help. However, it'd be hard to let go of a guy who means so much to the team, but now you can't help but hear the name "Boucher" whenever a player gets off of being traded on the fact that he was a fan favorite.


The atmosphere inside the arena was awesome. Cheering at every Stars hit, save, shot, goal, strong defensive play, successful penalty kill, etc. etc. was a great feeling. And I gotta hand it to the soundtrack guys in Dallas; playing Headstrong by Trapt to open up the pre-game skate was pretty cool. So is the Stars' theme song played and the start of each period.

It wasn't the perfect return for longtime fan favorite Darryl Sydor, but the return of James Neal to the line-up was a smart move; need proof? Check out his excellent rebound capitalization goal.

Honestly, I was too disappointed last night to keep in mind everything I wanted to write, but rest assured, I'll be more specific the next time I'm at a Stars home game. For now,

GO STARS!!!!!!!!!!!

11.19.2008

Long time, no post

Sorry if anyone's been waiting for a post from me.

Hmm...alright, so I've got three games to go over.


Well, the two L.A. games were simply not good games. We had some chances, scored on a few of them, but overall didn't play as well as we could have, and ended up losing.


The Phoenix game was definitely more promising. A 3-2 win, including another 2-goal performance out of Loui Eriksson, and a power-play goal from Mark Parrish.
Personally, I'm seeing Eriksson turning into a prominent right winger. The start of his career may not have been quite as superb as, say, Jarome Iginla, but look at Bill Guerin. He had a good 3-4 average seasons before finally becoming a reasonably reliable scorer, and his potential topped out at a 41 goal season with the Bruins in 2002. Eriksson could turn into much of the same sort of player.
Parrish is also a valuable asset as far as goal production. 4 goals in five games doesn't look bad, but I'm hoping that he can keep the scoring up; that number looks that way because of his debut hat trick.

The Stars made a couple of moves in between the time of my writing.

First off, they traded defenseman Phillipe Boucher for Darryl Sydor. This is Sydor's third go-round in a black-and-gold jersey, and I think he'll be able to combine well with Sergei Zubov, just like the old days. Boucher was a great help, and it's sad to see him go. However, he's joined a strong contender in Pittsburgh and he should have a good time out there.

Also, the Stars lost B.J. Crombeen to the St. Louis Blues via waivers, which made me pretty mad. However, at the same time, James Neal was called up the the Stars, so hopefully he can gain from Crombeen's departure. Neal, and fellow rookie Fabian Brunnstrom, could help the Stars out a lot by picking up their production on ice.


That's all for today. Dallas goes up against Chicago tomorrow, and I'll be watching that game with anxious anticipation, and hoping for a win.

11.11.2008

Stars vs. LA (Pre-game)

Some Stars fans might look at tonight's schedule and rest in peace, knowing that Los Angeles is a typically easy team to beat.

I, for one, am not so easily assured.


That's not to say the Stars won't win; to the contrary, I think they'll play a great game after several days of rest.

I'm just saying, let's take this game one step at a time. In their past couple of games, L.A. has won due to the strong goaltending from Erik Ersberg and a good power-play.


The Stars' main focus tonight needs to be NOT TAKING PENALTIES!!!!!

There have been many games in just this season where the momentum is even keel until Dallas takes a bad penalty, the other team gets a goal, and the rest of the game slowly goes down the drain.

If the Stars can keep their men out of the box (and if Turco can restrain from over-handling the puck) then the game should be locked up. Dallas' defense has gotten over its annoying tendency to turn the puck over, and is stronger now with the return of Sergei Zubov.

The offense can have a different leader simply depending on who picks up their game. Often times, we'll see superb passing skills from Mike Ribeiro lead to a win; on other nights, the reckless play of Brenden Morrow will lead to a rebound goal or two; and yet on another night we could see the inspired play of Mike Modano lead to a strong performance by the whole team.

Some key players tonight;
*Sean Avery*- If the ultimate super-pest can draw a few penalties, it'll allow Dallas' powerplay many opportunities to gain the lead. His erratic offensive skills could come in handy as well.

*Fabian Brunnstrom*- He might be the only guy on the Stars with enough talent to play on any line. He's helped out defensively on several occasions, and seems to have a Morrow-like knack for getting goals in front of the net.

*Sergei Zubov*- It's a little early to expect anything huge from the Stars' reigning veteran defender, but if he can pop in a goal, it'll boost Dallas' confidence and momentum.

*Marty Turco*- Everyone says it; you can't win without good goaltending. Specifically for Turco, he'll need to take less risks when handling the puck, and the San Jose game should have solidly implanted the risks into his mind.


I'll post tomorrow with my post-game review, and hopefully some video highlights and/or pictures as well.

11.09.2008

The Back-to-back Curse Strikes Again




I just had to say something, didn't I?

I was talking to my friend Jamie last night, who was lucky enough to attend the Stars-Sharks game, and as a closing statement, I said "I hope our back-to-back game curse doesn't kick in again, or else you'll enjoy watching your Sharks get a win."

Wouldn't you know it, with 30 seconds left in the third period, Marty Turco had yet another one of his famous stick-handling blunders that gave Patrick Marleau a goal and the Sharks a win.

However, that game wasn't too bad for Dallas. They had a lot of scoring chances, and played some good defense. But Brian Boucher brought his 'A' game, and Loui Eriksson was the only Stars player able to break his shutout, during the third period.





The positive side to Dallas' back-to-back curse is that they always have a good game as well, and that would be the 5-2 win they got in Anaheim on Friday.

Mark Parrish certainly had an excellent debut, becoming the second player this season to score a hat trick in his Dallas debut, following the footsteps of Fabian Brunnstrom, who also had a goal against Anaheim. Brad Richards had the other tally for the Stars, and Marty Turco had a really strong game in goal.

The kind of play I saw from Dallas, which involved lots of physical play, a willingness to drive to the net, and strong defensive coverage. Fabian Brunnstrom continues to impress me with his knack of being in front of the net at the right time. After watching highlights of his play overseas on Youtube, I took him to be a finesse guy with superb passing skills who might occasionally pop in a goal. However, while he still doesn't share the same physicality as resident Dallas net-crasher Brenden Morrow, he's displayed an excellent talent of sitting on top of the crease and knocking in rebounds and/or skilled passes from Brad Richards, Mike Ribeiro, Mike Modano, and even Toby Petersen once. If the rest of the team can display that kind of willingness to win, whether on offense or defense, we'll have a more successful season.



NOTES:
Here's some quick food-for-thought that I noticed today;

- Minnesota is doing ok so far this year, but you'd think they'd be a bit more worried when Krys Kolanos has as many goals in the season as Marian Gaborik. The Wild's resident super-star hasn't played due to an injury, and he'd help an awful lot if he came back.

- Is it possible to have two people switch bodies? The Washington Capitals might think so, seeing as the numbers typical of an Alex Ovechkin start to the year are being produced by Alexander Semin. Ovie only has 2 goals and 8 points so far. I don't think the Caps should be worried though; they'll see 35-50 goals out of Ovechking by the end of the year.

- Too bad the Thrashers didn't let Bryan Little play a full AHL year last season; if this had been his rookie NHL year, he would be a strong Calder candidate for sure. With 8 goals and 14 points in 14 games, the talented Atlanta center is outperforming Ilya Kovalchuk and could be the cornerstone of the franchise if Kovie does indeed leave town next summer.

11.05.2008

Fistric and Neal go AHL; Mark Parrish joins Dallas

The Stars made some interesting roster moves yesterday.

Youngsters James Neal and Mark Fistric were sent down to the NHL, while free agent forward Mark Parrish was signed to a one-year deal.


I expected Fistric to see some AHL time this year simply because the blue-line in Dallas is over-crowded. Out of Sergei Zubov, who is still out with an injury, Phillipe Boucher, Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Grossman, Fistric, Doug Janik, and Garrett Stafford, it's hard to figure out who deserves an NHL spot the most.
I guess Doug Janik will get some NHL time until Zubov returns from injured reserve.


Also interesting will be how Mark Parrish can perform in place of Neal, and where he'll end up fitting on the team. My hope? That Parrish can accept more of a depth role to allow Fabian Brunnstrom to get more ice time, while still playing a productive game.
Here's some potential lines now, with Parrish in the system;

Morrow--Ribeiro--Brunnstrom
Avery---Richards-Eriksson
Parrish-Modano---Crombeen
Ott-----Petersen-Barch

Another option, if the Stars really want to get experimental;

Morrow-----Ribeiro--Parrish
Brunnstrom-Richards-Eriksson
Avery------Modano---Ott
Crombeen---Petersen-Barch

The third way I would put together lines might turn out like this;

Morrow--Ribeiro--Eriksson
Parrish-Richards-Brunnstrom
Avery---Modano---Crombeen
Ott-----Petersen-Barch



Obviously, these aren't the only line combinations that could work. There are dozens of ways the Stars could slip Parrish into the line-up, not to mention that they've been changing up lines every few games anyways.


Focusing on Neal, I think the assignment to Manitoba could actually be beneficial. Although his production largely slowed down because the Stars as a whole slowed down, I still think he has a few things to learn in the game, and perhaps the mentoring of Mike Keane, who's played with Vancouver young guys Jannik Hansen, Mason Raymond, Rick Rypien, and others. It'll allow him to show his full potential in a full AHL season, while at the same time, he'll be the obvious choice for a call-up if a forward gets injured.


Hopefully, this whole shake-up will turn out beneficial for the Stars, who need to start winning NOW.

11.04.2008

Reality Check: Everyone Gets Injured

The New Jersey Devils have one heck of a dilemma on their hands.


Super-human goalie Martin Brodeur went down with an elbow injury, and will require surgery. This means 3-4 months of a Marty-less team.

Ouch.


The Devils have relied on Brodeur since I was too young to know anything about hockey, and their back-up right now? Kevin Weekes.

Now, I'm not trying to say Weekes is a bad goalie; he's in the NHL, that obviously means he has some skill. But he hasn't been the starting goalie for a team since the 03-04 Hurricanes, where he went 23-30-11 in 66 games. Since then, he's compiled a 20-23-3 record as a back-up for the Rangers and the Devils over 4 seasons, including the 2 games he's played this season.


The Devils have several options, and it'll be interesting to see which one they go with.

A) The Devils go with Weekes as a starting goaltender, and give AHL goaltender Frank Doyle some NHL time. Straight up, there's no way Lou Lamoriello will go with that.

B) The Blackhawks need to get Nikolai Khabibulin off their hands, even though he's been a good goalie as of late. He could fit into the Devils system relatively well and have a strong year.

C) Ottawa doesn't know what to do with it's trio of Martin Gerber, Alex Auld, and Brian Elliot, all three of whom are deserving of starting goalie time. The Devils could trade for one of them without giving up too much.



There are other options, of course, but I think one of these three would be the most likely to occur. Thoughts? Random Rants? Feel free to comment.

11.03.2008

Two very, very bad games..

The Stars had an extremely rough weekend, losing 5-2 to Chicago and 5-1 to Boston in back-to-back road games.





The Boston game was especially horrendous, in my opinion. The Stars played with the awfulness of a team who doesn't care about the playoffs any longer, rather than a team who just needs a couple of wins to get back on track. Sean Avery and Steve Ott played really dirty games, and although they may have just been trying to help give the team some momentum, it really didn't work.


The Chicago game wasn't nearly as bad. Other than a few turnovers resulting in goals, the Stars did play an ok game. They had a lot of good chances on offense, but Nikolai Khabibulin really had his game on that night.



The Stars play the Ducks on Friday, so they have plenty of resting time, and practice time, until then. Hopefully they'll spark up a little and get a good win against Anaheim, and keep up the momentum throughout November and the rest of the season.