An edge-of-your-seat game

Wow, what a crazy night against Anaheim yesterday. Although pretty much the first half of the game was boring, the rest of the game was intense up to the point where Dallas had two consecutive power-plays in OT and scored right after they ended.
James Neal has a little two-game goal streak going on, and his timing on last night’s power-play goal was great. Along with Fabian Brunnstrom and Brenden Morrow, he’s got that knack to just sneak up on the crease and pop in a rebound or loose puck right when he needs to.
Mike Modano seems to have borrowed the ageless drought recipe from Chris Chelios and Joe Sakic. His clutch goal to win the game last night was awesome, and he also had an assist, giving him 12 goals and 24 points in 34 games. There aren’t a lot of players in their late 30’s, nearly 40’s, that can play like that.
Brad Richards and Toby Petersen combined for one cool-looking goal to put Dallas on the board. Toby seems to have a knack for inconsistently making passes worthy of Mike Ribeiro. He’d be a much more appreciated player if he could get one of those every other game. And Richards still has a great shot, despite passing a lot more this year.
Overall, it’s great to see the Stars getting a lot more consecutive wins, even if tomorrow the streak will end when the Sharks come into town.



Well. If that wasn’t enough of a Christmas miracle for the rest of you Stars fans, then too bad.

It’s not everyday that we get an 8-2 win on the road, including a James Neal hat trick, and I couldn’t be happier.

Last night I nearly didn’t watch the game because my TV Guide didn’t actually say there was a game on KDFI. However, I checked anyways and came in during the first period. I was shocked to see that the score was 3-0 already. And not 5 minutes after I started watching, Brad Richards made it 4-0. I knew right then that the night was going to be awesome.

Congrats to Andrew Hutchinson on getting his first point of the year, with an assist.

Congrats to Steve Ott, who had a multi-point performance while simultaneously ticking off the entire Leafs team without getting into a fight.

Another first was the biggest story, that of James Neal being the 4th Stars player to get a hat trick this season, and only 2 games after Loui Eriksson got his first career hat trick. Neal actually stole the lead in rookie goals for Dallas from Fabian Brunnstrom, who also scored. Neal now has 11, while Brunnstrom has 10.

Marty Turco also had a strong performance last night, and his 2 goals that he did allow were perfectly excusable. Jason Blake’s goal came off a funky rebound, while Mikhail Grabovski caught a rebound that got away from Turco on the fly and snapped it in with skill.

The biggest surprise of the night was seeing Loui Eriksson go point-less. Of course, it’d be hard to expect another goal after he’d gotten 6 in three games, but it was a little surprising nonetheless.

A warm welcome to Brian Sutherby. I can’t remember seeing him in the little bit of the Ottawa game that I watched, but it’s nice to see him healthy and in a Stars uniform regardless.

Krys Barch had a couple of great fights and his 3rd goal of the year, and Landon Wilson kept up his strong play by getting two assists.

Mike Ribeiro, congratulations on scoring your 100th career goal! Let’s see how close we can get to 200 out of you before the year ends.

Overall, it’s great to see that the boys can pull off this kind of win without the leadership of Brenden Morrow, and hopefully this won’t be the last dominating win we see out of the boys in black and gold.


The OT curse strikes again

What a heartbreaking game against Ottawa yesterday.

Starting out down 2-1, then coming back to get a 3-2 lead, and then when all hope looked lost down 4-3 in the third, Loui Eriksson tied it at 4-4. All that hype died when Jason Smith’s first point of the year slipped past Turco for a Senators win.

Gotta give credit to Matt Niskanen, Brad Richards, Toby Petersen, and Loui for scoring. That made the game alright. And at least we got a point out of it.

However, now I bet the winning percentage the Stars would have to keep up to make the playoffs has gone up from the .625 that I heard from Ralph Strangis earlier.

There are benefits from this type of season though. Developing young players (Brunnstrom, Neal, Niskanen), discovering future stars (Eriksson), and realizing that just about every rookie that we call up is going to get a goal (Brunnstrom, Neal, Wandell).

Good luck Dallas. Try not to make the rest of the year look to bad.


What a night..

I don’t think there’s been a scarier night all year. Not even the first Columbus OT game and the Washington OT game could match the scare of waiting for a final call on a reviewed potential winning goal.

To be honest, I didn’t think Manny Malholtra kicked that puck in. Ralph and Razor weren’t too sure either, but I’ll take it. And the fact that we won in the shootout that followed made it all the crazier of a night.

Loui Eriksson had his first NHL hat trick, making him the second player to get that achievement with Dallas this season and the third Stars player to score a hat trick this year. All three of his goals were in typical Loui fashion, close up to the net, pouncing on a loose puck or rebound.

Matt Niskanen and James Neal combined on a power-play to get a goal. Niskanen was originally given credit when it appeared to be a solid goal from his point slap-shot, but later credit was given to Neal, who tipped the puck in with full Ryan Smyth-flair.

Brad Richards had one heck of a night as well, getting three assists and knocking in a goal with a blind backhand. Richards is still kind of inconsistent this year, although in a somewhat good way. He’s had very few one-point games, but I believe now 10 multi-point games. It’d be nice if he could get points on a nightly basis, but I’m ok with what he’s got so far.

Marty Turco. You could say he had an off night, but then you’d look at his shootout performance and say, that guy gave up 5 goals?

Mike Ribeiro pulled off another fancy shootout goal and it gave the Stars a win. Meanwhile, Richards just walked in and scored, no worries.

Neal also pulled off an awesome win in his first NHL fight, albeit against Derrick Brassard.

Overall, it was good to see the Stars earn consecutive wins, and Loui was the backbone of both. Hopefully we can take advantage of a weak Ottawa Senators team on Saturday and make it 3 in a row.


Eriksson saves the day

Well, what a game that was last night, no?

I can’t believe the Stars managed to pull a win out of that one. Marty Turco definitely had his game on, and Loui Eriksson brought his goal-scoring stick to the rink, notching two goals including the OT winner.

I have to give a lot of credit to the defensive play of the Stars. They killed off a lot of penalties, and also didn’t take as many as they have before.

Toby Petersen continues to go unrecognized throughout the league for his solid play on defense. It’s hard to believe that just last year, he was considered a call-up player who couldn’t stay in the NHL.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Phoenix defenseman Zybnek Michalek, who made half as many saves as Ilya Bryzgalov. There was one play (might have been a powerplay, I can’t exactly remember) where the Stars were getting shot after shot off, and Michalek blocked nearly all of them. The Stars announcers were jokingly wondering what the point was of having Bryzgalov stand there bored while Michalek played goalie. The play then ended on a “rare” save from Bryzgalov.

I still can’t believe how well Loui Eriksson is playing this year. I knew he could score goals, but I always saw him as a second or third liner who would get 10-15 goals a year and keep his spot in the lineup. However, this year, he’s been a key scorer for the Stars, and I can’t imagine getting through the season without him.

Last night’s game was a good effort by the Stars, and I hope we can keep it up and grab a playoff spot.


Avery's Gone

To be honest, I think I’ve been pretty conflicted on the Avery issue.

If you look back to the summer, I put a blog out criticizing Dallas for signing the beast also called Sean Avery, saying that his presence was redundant and he’d just cause trouble for the team.

However, I think later in the year, just barely into the season, I said that Sean was a semi-key player to the team and that his ability to draw penalties would help out.

However, now more than ever do I agree with my summer opinion. The Stars lost a lot of early games (and are still losing more games) because they were/are taking a lot of penalties, and Sean had 77 of those penalty minutes. That’s not actually helping.

What I hope to get out of the Stars A.A. is a return to form. As long as we can start playing hockey like a team, and even climb up the standings a little, it’ll be plainly obvious that the Dallas Stars DO NOT need Sean Avery.

Now the only thing we have to overcome is a season without Brenden Morrow…


The One-Year Wonder

The Tampa Bay Lightning assigned right winger Radim Vrbata to BK Mlada Boleslav of the Czech Extraliga, ending the former Coyote, Blackhawk, and Avalanche's one-summer reign as a desirable skilled player.

Last season, Vrbata shocked many hockey experts by breaking out with a 27-goal, 56-point season to rank as the second-leading scorer for the Phoenix Coyotes. He was an unrestricted free agent over the summer, and when it was announced that he had signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had also acquired Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi, and Steven Stamkos, many believed he would be among the offensive leaders on the team.

If I remember correctly, earlier in the year, an NHL Connect blogger sent out a dire warning to those with high expectations of Vrbata, saying "Remember one name! Bochenski!", referring to the erratic Brandon Bochenski, who appeared on the verge of a break-out season leading up to 07-08 after scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 41 games the previous season, including 11 goals and 22 points in 31 games with Boston. However, in the 40 games he played in 07-08, with Boston, Anaheim, and Nashville, he only managed 3 goals and 13 points.

Apparently, the same curse has befallen Vrbata, who had 3 goals and 6 points in 18 games with a -1 rating leading up to his demotion to BK Mlada Boleslav.

In other news, I really wish the Stars had managed to hold on to Brandon (B.J.) Crombeen. Originally one of a trio of Stars rookies to start the season (along with Neal and Brunnstrom), the Stars attempted to send Crombeen to the AHL, but while he was on waivers, the St. Louis Blues picked him up. In Crombeen's 10 games as a Blue since the waiver pick-up, he's scored 4 goals and 6 points, as opposed to the goal and 5 points he had in 15 games for Dallas. However, I expect his story was the same as Neal's, needing time to adjust to the big league's before pumping out the points. He'll be my second-favorite Blues rookie (behind Patrik Berglund) for the rest of the season.


A Win!

Well, I can’t help but be thankful (although, it’s after thanksgiving) for the Stars getting a win tonight against the Avs. It was a very tense game, not to mention the first one that I’ve watched entirely for a while. I was glad to see my man Toby Petersen score a key goal for the Stars, and both Mike Ribeiro and Mike Modano were awesome in the shootout.

Kudos to sniper Marek Svatos. I’m dead serious, if there will ever be any Avalanche players that I like, it’ll be Paul Stastny, who was surprisingly ineffective, and the man who threaded the puck like a needle with 55.something seconds left in the game to scare the heck out of me.

I really, really like the way that Andrew Hutchinson is playing so far. I don’t know if any of you ever saw a blog I wrote two seasons ago about underrated and under-played players, but Hutchinson was one of them, and it looks like he’s fitting in with Dallas better than Sean Avery. I was surprised by his Hutchinson’s reasonable skill on offense, and there were a few key plays on defense that he made.

Modano was great, not only with his shootout-winning goal, but also his stellar play all over the ice. He basically saved one or two goals on his own.

Another little-known player that stood out to me was Chris Conner. I don’t know if anyone here’s ever seen the man skate, but if you haven’t, try and find a complete recording of this game and check out his near break-away in the second period. I am not kidding, he would’ve made every defenseman in the league take a tripping penalty (I believe Ruslan Salei actually did) in order to stop that beast. He also had a few nice defensive plays, including sliding right in front of a slapshot from the point. Great kid.

Fabian Brunnstrom’s very first shootout attempt definitely won’t be something to remember. To me, he’ll probably turn out to be the way Ryan Getzlaf was during his rookie year with shootouts: he won’t score very often because there are no rebounds or passes to tap into the net. That’s how Fabian’s skill works, and it’ll probably take him a little while longer to become as complete of a player as Getzy.

All in all, that was a heck of a game out of the Dallas Stars, and I’m glad that we could get two points out of it.

GO STARS!!!!!!


Avery Suspension Too Long

Hey, the guy ticks me off as much as just about any hockey fan in the world. I wanted him suspended at times, and at times I didn’t.

Here’s the reason why this suspension is too long: it’s at the wrong time.

I’m not the only one talking about it. In fact, most of the buzz for Sean right now is the fact that the NHL, and Gary Bettman, took way too long to take some action against Avery.

I would take the time to go back and look up every incident where Avery should have been suspended, and wasn’t, but I’m sure most of you know the stories already. The Brodeur incident is probably the one that stands out in most people’s minds, especially those hockey fans who haven’t been around for Sean’s entired reign on terror.

Now, they did make an “Avery Rule” disallowing sticks and hands to be waved in front of the goaltender as a distraction, which was Avery’s original action, but they didn’t suspend him at the time mainly because there wasn’t a rule against it.

Oh, but now Avery has finally cracked the NHL’s patience? There’s almost definitely no rule against talking trash about a guy on another team because he stole your girlfriend. I honestly haven’t looked it up, but I’m pretty darn sure Gary Bettman doesn’t feel like getting into the love lives of NHL players.

So now Avery’s gone out and talked smack about Dion Phaneuf because Canada’s wonder-boy on defense decided to date Elisha Cuthbert, one of Sean’s exes. Big whoop. I bet you a million bucks that if Roberto Luongo starts dating Elisha Cuthbert, Phaneuf’s not going to go out in public and call Luongo a crap goalie and other abusive things.

The Avery act has gone on long enough, and honestly, I want him off my team.

What does he honestly add? Fighting? Umm, hello Krys Barch, Steve Ott, and Brenden Morrow. Grit? See above trio. Points? I highly doubt that we wouldn’t have been able to replace Avery’s current 3 goals and 10 points with, say, Brandon Crombeen?

Ah well. I listened to Brett Hull’s press conference regarding Avery’s suspension, and I have to admire the fact that although he’s got strong connections to Sean, Brett did not confirm even the fact that Avery would stick with the team. He merely said the team would discuss Sean’s future with the team.

To be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing an Avery for Crombeen trade, with perhaps another player coming out of St. Louis.

Anyway, if you’ve read this, thanks. I know there are plenty of Avery-bashing blogs out there right now, but this is a perspective from a die-hard Dallas Stars fan. GO STARS!!!


Fabian shows me up again

Well, maybe I should start throwing out crap about Mr. Brunnstrom before every game, because the last time I questioned his skill level, he scored a hat trick in his first game.

In my last blog, I said that one of the ways to improve the Stars' season would be to send Fabian down for a trip in the minors. The next Stars game, he scores the game-winner on a rebound from a break-away.

The Calgary game was a good one, without a doubt. Loui Eriksson also had a goal, and while it was a none-too-special empty-netter, it still shows that he has a nose for the net, and in the end it'll count towards his stats, so it's all the better for him.

Toby Petersen got his second goal of the year, which makes me proud of the Stars for sticking with him as a solid fourth-liner, even though the beginning of his year was relatively unproductive. Although he'll probably only get 10-15 points on the year, any offensive contribution is appreciated by me.

For once, Marty Turco looked alright, making 36 saves and achieving first-star honors. Keep it up, Marty, and you just might reach that level of consistency I was looking for.

Good game boys, let's keep it up.



Alright. I am extremely frustrated with the way the Stars are playing, and I'm sick of the fact that we aren't doing anything to fix it.

Let's face it: Mark Parrish is our new Nik Hagman. Darryl Sydor and Phillipe Boucher play the exact same style of game. James Neal didn't need that time in the AHL. Fabian Brunnstrom probably does need that time in the AHL.

Here's what Dallas needs to do in order to improve this year, and stay strong for years to come.

*1*- +Knock some sense into Marty Turco's head.+
If the man who runs Dallas' net-minding duties can't get his act together, he needs to get out of town. Here's Turco's current stats, straight up:

Season GPI Min W L OT GA SA SO GAA Sv%
2008-2009 21 1,198 7 10 4 72 544 0 3.61 .868

I look at these numbers and grimace. Where's the Marty of last season, who had a 2.31 GAA and a .909 Sv%?

The fact is that even though a good number of those 72 goals against have come from defensive lapses, Marty's game hasn't been at its top and there are a number of times where a goal could've easily been stopped and he just didn't have his head on straight.

Here's a tip for you, Marty, a tip that I hear repeated by everyone from fellow Stars fans to casual hockey fans to Ralph and Razor as the announce games.
STOP HANDLING THE PUCK SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Every Dallas game that I've watched, there's at least 5-1o moments where Turco grabs the puck away from his net to make a risky pass, and I cringe, waiting for the turnover and the empty net goal. Fortunately, there haven't been too many mistakes like that this year, but I've seen them, oh boy have I seen them. Check the Peter Schaefer goal a few years ago, or Richard Park's goal last year that forced the game into OT instead of giving the Stars a 2-1 win over the Islanders.

Another idea goaltending-wise would be to give Tobias Stephan more games. He's been in 5 games so far this year, but only has credit for a win and a loss and has only played 190 minutes. However, his play has looked promising and I'd like to see more of his play in net.

*2* +Send Fabian Brunnstrom to the minors for 5 games or more+
Why not? They sent James Neal to Manitoba for a quick spell, and it worked wonders. Neal has impressed me beyond any expectations I had for him so far. His goal-scoring is incredibly well timed, although his efforts sometimes don't get equaled by the rest of the team.
Here's the deal with Brunnstrom: he wasn't all the way ready. To be honest, I'm surprised he was as good as he was in the beginning of the year. The hat trick was great, but in his next 19 games, he only had 3 goals and an assist, not to mention his plus/minus dropped to an awful -9. I say Fabian needs a good 5 games in the AHL, just to see whether or not he'd be dominant at that level. Worst-case scenario, he turns into a Kirby Law of sorts, dominating the minors but making little-to-no impact NHL-wise. Best-case scenario, he pops back into the lineup like James Neal and starts piling up the points.

*3* +Check up on Dave Tippett+
NO, that does not say fire him. Although I can imagine quite a few Stars fans wouldn't object to a new coach, I can't help but look at the fact that he's so successful, we'd have to lose over 100 games to turn his 235-127-48 record (since being hired) into a losing record. He's a good coach, no doubt about it, but I'm wondering about some of the strategies he's using.
First of all, Dave–Please emphasize shooting! At all times! Power-play, even strength, even on penalty kill chances. During the San Jose game on Friday, I saw Mark Parrish skate into the Sharks zone with what was essentially a break-away (he had maybe half of the ice, a Sharks defender was in the other) and instead of shooting, he pulled back and waited for a pass, which didn't work. Also, a lot of power-play opportunities have failed because our players are not willing to shoot enough.

Now, here are some positives to build off of.

*1* +Loui Eriksson's skyrocketing skill level+
Nobody can deny the talent that we've seen in Loui since day one. However, in his first two seasons, his talent was inconsistent and nobody was sure what kind of player he would be.
HELLO! Think again, folks. So far this season, Loui has the same amount of points (19) in 23 games as he had in 59 games during his rookie year, and nearly twice as many goals (11 to 6).

*2* +James Neal is one heck of a rookie+
You got it, people, James Neal is the man of the future. Right now, we have Modano, Morrow, Richards, and Ribeiro. Soon, we'll have Neal, Eriksson, and Brunnstrom. Specifically of Neal, however, his skill at finding the right moment continues to amaze me. 6 goals and 3 assists in only 18 games, now that's pretty good.

Alright. 8-11-4 isn't a good start. But we had that win against the Oilers the other night, so let's try and build on that boys.

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