Alright people, I'm going to be attempting my first live blog for tonight's Stars vs. Predators game. I doubt I can update it every time I can add something, but I'll do my best.
6:50- I don't know if this is because of my cable service (Time Warner) or because the Stars or Predators board just made a very odd decision, but apparently, the only place to watch this game is on NHL Center Ice on TV. The free online preview of NHL GameCenter isn't even showing the game. I really can't believe this. Versus isn't showing any games. Fox Sports Southwest is showing football. KDFI is showing some old, two-star movie called Hair Show that I've never heard of. No other local channel in Dallas is showing this game. I'll do the best I can to listen to the audio feed, and write about that, but I'm really outraged at the fact that no TV channel is showing this game unless you're paying however-much-per-year to get Center Ice subscription. This really makes me mad.
7:07- Problem solved! Apparently, Time Warner was showing me the wrong scheduling for FS-SW. I visited the Stars site out of desperation, and it told me the game was indeed on FS-SW, so I re-checked, and now that awesome Stars intro-commercial is on.
7:09- Both goaltenders are or were Stars players, and oddly enough, both goaltenders (Turco and Ellis for those who are new to either team or the whole league) gave up 5 goals in their games yesterday.
- Opening lines for Dallas: Robidas-Grossman on defense, Neal-Modano-Avery up front.
7:13 - Could the Stars already be in trouble? A turnover at Nashville's blue-line sends the puck the other way, where Shea Weber, un-covered by any Star, pounces on a rebound and scores the opening goal of the game. Right after that, Martin Erat gives the Stars a quick scare, but Trevor Daley keeps him from getting a shot off.
- All the Stars lines are the same; apparently the Stars think they'll get enough offense from the groups they have.
7:15 - Well, look who wants to be an offensive defenseman. Trevor Daley pots a goal, snapping a high wrist-shot from the top of the face-off circle.
7:15 - Daley takes a penalty right after his goal, but the Stars' penalty kill appears to be on top of its game.
7:17 - Turco keeps getting scaring me. He's still over-handling the puck, and Phillipe Boucher had to save him from giving up a goal.
7:19 - Dan Ellis makes a nifty little up-ice pass...think he took more than a few lessons from Turco?
7:20 - The Predators just look like they have more overall energy right now. They're fighting harder in the corners, playing better defensively, and passing well. I hope we can get some energy in us somehow-perhaps another Barch fight?
- Unlike last night's collection of rookies for the Blue Jackets, Nashville's lone youngster Patric Hornqvist is so far invisible. He's already been given at least two shifts, and he's done almost nothing.
7:23 - Mike Ribeiro got tripped up by Ryan Suter; he looked a little shaken up, but he's still on the ice, so I guess he's not hurt.
- The Stars had an exceptionally weak power-play against Nashville last year, 0-for-26. So far, after one power-play, it's 0-for-1.
7:26 - Two fights at once! B.J. Crombeen against Greg de Vries, and Sean Avery vs. Dan Hamhuis. Both fights getting broken up pretty quickly, but not half-bad. Jordin Tootoo was actually the original cause, messing around with Marty Turco after a play. Steve Ott and Trevor Daley immediately jumped on Tootoo, and then the two fights erupted. Ott, Crombeen, and Avery are all in the penalty box, and one lady is just absolutely shouting her lungs out at Avery. It's pretty funny, mainly because the enigmatic Avery is just kind of looking at her like, "Who do you think you are?"
7:30 - Apparently, Mr. Avery has been kicked out of the game. Both Brenden Morrow and Dave Tippett don't like the call, but oh well. Sucks for the penalty-box lady, she'll have to waste her breath shouting at Ott and Crombeen.
7:33 - I can't imagine Avery and Crombeen will be the only fighters of this game. Shoving matches are occuring after every whistle.
7:34 - Another Stars penalty, Mark Fistric for slashing.
7:35 - Jason Arnott takes advantage of a rough PK unit (Morrow, Niskanen, Robidas, Barch) to score his first goal of the year. If the game stays at this pace, we might see another 5-4 game, or higher.
7:38 - The Stars really need to catch a break offensively. They're having a really hard time bringing the puck into Nashville's end.
7:40 - Shea Weber came close to giving Dallas a goal bringing the puck around his net. Right after that, Turco makes a nice pass the Brad Richards almost caught up to for a break-away. We're getting to that energy level...
7:42 - Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, and Phillipe Boucher combine for a good scoring chance.
- Jason Arnott's house caught fire. Wow, I hope he and his family can deal with that smoothly.
7:47 - The Stars are still looking slow. They can't seem to get the puck moving, which is probably the opposite of how yesterday's first period went, even though on both occasions, Dallas was outshot.
7:48 - B.J. Crombeen in the box. Nashville is getting way too many chances. However, the penalty-kill still looks strong.
END OF FIRST PERIOD
- The Hawks-Caps game is pretty interesting. Alex Ovechkin made up for yesterday by scoring a goal already, and energy player Matt Bradley has scored as well. For the Hawks, rookies Kris Versteeg and Jack Skille have scored.
- Miroslav Satan has a goal for the Penguins against New Jersey. Brian Rolston is shooting a lot.
- Trent Hunter, Andy Hilbert, Sean Bergenheim, and Mike Comrie have all scored for the Islanders, and rookie Kyle Okposo already has an assist. Brad Boyes will probably be the top scorer for St. Louis again; he's got goals in back-to-back games so far. Rookie Alex Pietrangelo is at -1, getting 11:33 of ice time through two-periods.
- Ouch. Whoever does intermission schedule reports for Dallas just said it's already been two periods of the game. Woops.
8:08 - Ralph and Razor are right; the Stars really need Sergei Zubov back. He's old, but he's key.
8:09 - Still making lots of turnovers, but at least we're doing better in our own zone.
8:11 - Mark Fistric really needs to work on his defensive coverage. When Zubie comes back, I'm expecting Fistric to get at least a quick AHL assignment until the next defender goes down with an injury.
8:11 - Nashville takes another penalty. The Stars can't afford to go 0-for-2 tonight. They're keeping the play in Nashville's zone, but they can't get a good pass or shot off. James Neal is getting power-play time, and he doesn't look out of place. Dan Ellis is making some awesome saves.
8:14 - Nashville takes a minor with 2 seconds left on the first one. Technically, the Stars are 0-for-2 now, but they kept the play alive pretty well. David Legwand and Scott Nichol both nearly got short-handed goals, and it took a desperate diving trip from Robidas to keep Nichol from getting a perfect opportunity on a break-away.
8:20 - Brenden Morrow snaps a shot that almost goes in. Can the captain bring the energy? We'll have to wait 40 seconds though, Preds have a power-play.
8:21 - Stars have another good penalty-kill. J-P Dumont gets a great shot off and gives Jason Arnott a rebound to pounce on right after it, though, but Marty Turco comes through with a huge save.
8:24 - Again, Turco makes a risky move to try and play the puck, and almost gives the Preds a goal. He's got to be more careful!
8:26 - Dave Tippett is mixing up the lines, trying to get something going. I don't know that it's gonna work, though.
8:32 - Mike Modano has a great chance to score, but Dan Ellis is just too poised. The Stars only have 10 shots so far, which worries me.
8:39 - Turco gets lucky on a shot that goes high, and Nichol rams into him. Can the Stars turn a goalie interference power-play into a game-tying goal? I hope so.
8:39 - An odd minor called now, Stephane Robidas and whoever #25 is for Nashville both called for hooking at different incidents, so it stays a 5-4. The Stars really need to use this power-play to get a goal.
8:43 - Stars get lucky on a 3-1 right after the power-play, Scott Nichol fanned on a shot.
END OF SECOND PERIOD
- Montreal destroyed the Maple Leafs 6-1. Sorry Leafs fans, your team isn't invincible after all. Alexei Kovalev, Roman Hamrlik, Alex Tanguay, and Guillame Latendresse all scored for the Habs, and Sergei Kostitsyn came through with a 2-goal performance. Jason Blake scored the lone Toronto goal.
- Johan Franzen scored two goals, and Valterri Filpulla scored the opening goal as the Red Wings topped the Senators 3-2. Alex Picard and Nick Foligno scored for Ottawa.
- Keith Tkachuk couldn't rally the Blues, and Bill Guerin put the icing on the cake as the Islanders beat the Blues with a final score of 5-2.
- Nik Zherdev, Blair Betts, Freddy Sjostrom, and Michal Roszival all scored for the Rangers, as Sarah Palin's puck drop did little to help the Flyers, who lost 4-3. Scott Hartnell, Simon Gagne, and young leader Mike Richards are scored for Philly.
- Alex Ovechkin potted his second goal of the night, and Brooks Laich popped in the winner as the Caps came back from 2-1 to defeat Chicago 4-2.
- David Booth came out as a hero, scoring the Panthers opening goal, and also knocking in an overtime winner as Florida beat the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2. Stephen Weiss also scored for the Cats, as Slava Kozlov and Jason Williams couldn't get the Thrashers another win.
9:02 - Despite his non-presence, Barry Trotz is keeping Patric Hornqvist on the top line. He managed a shot that got blocked, but I still don't see too much special about him yet.
9:07 - Both teams are moving pretty slowly, but it's most worrying that the Stars are still missing that jump on the puck.
9:09 - Morrow and Ribeiro are both giving their all towards another Stars goal, but they can't get anything past Ellis.
9:10 - James Neal is getting all sorts of ice time. He's a great player, but Tippett needs to be careful about overplaying him and ruining his rookie year.
9:12 - The Stars, on the penalty-kill, are still letting players get way too close to Marty Turco. Jordin Tootoo got in 3-4 rebound shots before Nicklas Grossman finally knocked him away.
- As someone who has a bad reputation with me for knocking out Stephane Robidas a while ago, I'm loving how Jordin Tootoo keeps getting dropped by Stars players.
9:14 - Toby Petersen was ever so close to a goal with a deflection on Robidas' shot fomr the point.
- Funnily enough, James Neal's #18 jersey has me thinking I'm seeing #10 have a lot of good shifts. Not that Morrow isn't doing good, but you get my point...
- I love how Time Warner is telling me I'm watching College Football, UCLA at Oregon. So odd...
9:22 - Good job by Brad Richards to keep fighting for the puck in the middle of the ice, he drew a penalty. With about 7 minutes left, the Stars need all the shots they can get.
9:28 - This game might be over. Steve Ott takes a high-sticking penalty with about 4 minutes left. If they can kill it off, and score a goal with just over 2 minutes left, it'll be great. However, look at last night's game. The Stars scored 2 goals in about 3 of the final minutes, but then lost with 21 seconds left in overtime.
9:31 - Definitely over. Jason Arnott scores his second goal of the night after the puck bounces off him onto his stick and into the net. It'll be awfully hard for Dallas to come back from 3-1 in 3 minutes. There's a chance, but it's a small chance. However, maybe the desperation energy will kick in.
9:36 - The Stars pull Marty Turco in hopes of getting goal. Can they do it? I really hope so.
9:37 - 37 seconds to go. It's highly unlikely that Dallas can get 2 goals, but they are definitely giving a strong effort with the empty net, taking a lot of shots.
9:39 - The game's over. Personally, I blame the Stars....for letting Jason Arnott and Dan Ellis leave as free agents. Honestly, the entire game belonged to Arnott and Ellis. Ellis's only goal allowed was through a screen, and he had a countless number of skilled saves through the whole game. Arnott's two goals and one assist led his team, and led to the win.
The Stars have started the season 0-1-1, but I think the main reason for tonight's loss was fatigue. The Stars looked tired for the entire night, and struggled defensively, like yesterday. I'm sure that Dave Tippett will be running plenty of 2-on-1, 3-on-1, 2-on-2, and 3-on-2 drills, especially focusing on covering that third man in. Hopefully, with some rest and practice, Dallas can come out and get a win against Nashville at home on the 15th.
Well, amazingly enough, the Stars' first home game of the season turns out to be a loss.
After some insane trading of goals in the 3rd period, Rick Nash won the game for the Blue Jackets with less than a minute left in overtime.
Here's some of the things I noticed last night (rough notes translated from my phone).
- Dave Tippett on the Stars' play during the pre-season: Our record wasn't that great, but we use the pre-season to test our younger players and now that the season has started, the guys know that it's time to get serious.
- The opening ad for the Dallas Stars' 08-09 season was awesome. It spent a lot of time focusing on how important the fans are the team, which is something the entire NHL needs to focus on.
- I haven't noticed it before, but the fan tradition of shouting 'Stars!' every time the word 'star' or 'stars' comes up in the national anthem is awesome. Some people might criticize Stars fans for not respecting the national anthem, but I think it's just another great way to show team spirit. If the Kelowna Rockets sang the U.S. national anthem before games, it'd be great for their fans to shout 'Rockets!' if they wanted to.
- Right off the bat, both teams were playing rough and fast, which is exactly the kind of hockey I love. Players like James Neal, Jason Chimaera, Loui Eriksson, and others showed exactly why their foot-speed got them to the NHL, especially on several break-away chances for Eriksson and on Neal's tip-in goal.
- The Stars really seemed to control the puck well throughout the whole game, and although they ended up losing in OT, it was due to the passing skill of the team, and Mike Ribeiro's puck-handling skill for the tying goal, that let the Stars stay in the game after going down 1-0 and 4-2.
- Dave Tippett went with these lines up front: Morrow-Ribeiro-Ott, Lundqvist-Richards-Eriksson, Avery-Modano-Neal, and Barch-Petersen-Crombeen. The idea of having at least one defensive/enforcer-type player on each line (Ott, Lundqvist, Avery, and the entire fourth line) seemed to work fairly well for the Stars. I was especially impressed by the play of Neal, Avery, and Modano. The three players, each of whom play differing styles, clicked really well. Modano's speed, although limited at his age, and passing skill seemed to work with Neal, whose crash-the-net scoring style has many hockey experts thinking "Morrow pt. 2." Avery provided a sort of bodyguard presence, getting into several shoving matches, but at the same time, his unpredictable offensive abilities would occasionally kick in and give the Stars a good scoring chance.
- Brenden Morrow's offense was at it's usual level; he hit the post on one play, had several shots, and ended up scoring the tying goal in the second period to make the score 1-1.
- The first power-play unit of Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro, Modano, Stephane Robidas, and Brad Richards didn't connect on its first opportunity, and it looked like they had a little trouble moving the puck around. The Stars do need to work on their power-play a little, but it usually ends up with midde-of-the-pack numbers, and an annually strong penalty kill will help even out the rough patches. The second chance for the power-play was strong though, with Morrow scoring a goal.
- The defensive pairs of Grossman-Robidas, Fistric-Boucher, and Niskanen-Daley were a little interesting to me. I think Tippett was trying to go younger players with more experienced ones, but I'm not too sure that the lines were as strong as they could be. However, Nik Grossman and Robidas were a solid pair all of last season, and looked alright tonight. Robidas is still consistently becoming a two-way defender, and he looked good assisting on Neal's goal. Mark Fistric and Phillipe Boucher made a real nice shut-down pair, but Fistric is still young, and may need a little more time in the minors, whereas Boucher is still coming back after an injury-filled 08-09 season where he only got into 32 regular season games.
- Loui Eriksson continues to impress me with his offensive play. He didn't score last night, but had several break-away chances, and was on top of the puck all night, battling hard in the corners, and doing his best to give the Stars some offense. He'll be another great Stars winger, and the announcers (Ralph and Razor are still great) even compared him to Jere Lehtinen.
- Marty Turco was solid, despite giving up 5 goals. He had several incredible saves during the game, and it's hard to believe that he won't have another amazing year.
- Sean Avery played his usual style, getting up in players faces. When I first hear that the Stars had signed Avery, I had thought it was pointless. We already had Morrow, Steve Ott, and Krys Barch bringing a tough physical presence to the team, and even rookie B.J. Crombeen fights a lot. However, Avery's pest factor is something that he's practiced for a while. I still see him as very similar to Steve Ott, as each player can fight, get in the other team's face, and occasionally back up his actions with a goal or an assist. However, I think Avery will fit in pretty nicely with the team, and he should have a good year.
- I was very surprised to see a lack of Fabian Brunnstrom in the lineup. I mean, obviously Neal and Crombeen are talented young players, but I was really into all the hype that the entire NHL was giving to Brunnstrom. However, if he couldn't secure a roster spot straight out of camp, he may just turn into another undrafted free agent out of Europe who can't secure an NHL job. I really hope he doesn't.
- Mike Modano really seemed to slide in the third line role without a problem. He's been one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL for a long time, and even at his age, he can bring the speed and passion that many Stars players don't.
- Jakub Voracek looked really good on the ice for a rookie. Even though the only people to originally catch his first NHL goal were the Stars play-by-play men, anyone could see that he can play smart offensively. His positioning and timing for that goal seemed like those of a seasoned veteran, and he'll probably be a great NHL player. It was funny to hear the ref say that Voracek's goal was "good" before confirming that it was an actual goal. I'm not sure if he was just stating his own opinion, or if he just thought that it was a goal, but I got a laugh out of that.
- Krys Barch and Jared Boll had one heck of a fight during the first period:
I am probably one of very few people in the hockey world that likes Krys Barch. I know he'll probably be a pure fighter for the rest of his NHL days, but he's just one of the guys I enjoy watching fight. He's got that killer 'grab-hand jab' that we'll probably be seeing used by a lot of NHL players this year, and he's not bad with his other hand either. Boll and Barch had another fight last year, which Boll completely dominated, to be honest. I'd definitely call this second one a win for Barch, so they're even for now. I'll try and keep track of their record if they fight again this year.
- The Blue Jackets will definitely have a more physical blue-line, led by Mike Commodore. Sean Avery got absolutely creamed entering the offensive zone from a clean check by Commodore, and we'll probably see a lot more Commodore hits as the season progresses.
- Stephane Robidas can just click with anyone. On one penalty kill, he rushed the puck into the Columbus zone and almost combined with Joel Lundqvist for a short-handed goal. Pascal Leclaire, who's on his way to becoming a premiere goaltender, stopped Lundqvist on that play, and had several other crazy saves, including one with the chin of his facemask.
- James Neal's first NHL goal came off of a great deflection, and it only helped prove that he'll be another Brenden Morrow-type player.
- Kristian Huselius showed that he can provide plenty of offense, capitalizing on a poor rebound left by Turco, and just pounding it in the net. Rick Nash, you're not alone.
- The Stars definitely had some trouble with their defensive coverage; Andrew Murray's goal only came about because he was wide open right in the middle of the ice. The Blue Jackets forward (I can't remember who) made a smart pass, and Murray had all the time in the world to pop a backhander past Turco.
- Rookie Derick Brassard scored his first goal of the season (he had a goal in 17 games last year), and that nearly toppled the Stars there and then. Right after Murray's goal, Brassard picked up the puck in the corner and made a smart move to, maybe even deliberately, bank the puck of a Stars defender and into the net past Turco.
- The Stars finally caught a break late in the third period, when Stephane Robidas took a slapshot in the point, and Brad Richards, in the typical power forward spot despite being more of a finesse player, had the puck bounce in off his shin and into the net.
- That break brought the life back into the Stars, and Mike Ribeiro proved how much of a leader he can be by out-skating and out-stick handling most of the Blue Jackets on the ice before making a nice pass to Trevor Daley, who slammed a one-timer past Pascal Leclaire to tie the game and eventually send it into overtime.
- The Stars were re-energized by both goals, and controlled the puck well during overtime. James Neal had a really nice opportunity, swooping into the offensive zone, but there were too many bodies in front of the net for him to get a good shot off. Mike Ribeiro's skilled puck control almost led to another goal to win the game, but to no avail. With 21 seconds left in the game, the Stars had one last fatal defensive slip that led to Nash's break-away game-winning goal.
Despite the loss, though, I think the Stars had a really good game. A lot of the forwards found their groove on a line, and the Stars brought back the combos of Morrow-Ribeiro and Richards-Eriksson, really good moves in my opinion. Hopefully, tonight against Nashville, the Stars can bring some better defensive coverage on the ice, protect the front of the net a little better, rush the offensive zone with the same intensity, and come out with a win. I'll be watch that game, and I'll let you know in a blog tomorrow how it turns out.