1.23.2009

Lots of time away, lots of Stars news

Well, I missed four games to cover.

I’m planning on writing a book where all the people from Buffalo disappear, starting with Ryan Miller, Paul Gaustad, and Jason Pominville. Just kidding, but I hated that night’s game so much. I was expecting the Stars to dominate the Sabres throughout game after they started out leading 3-0. Then the Sabres pulled a comeback, dragged the game into a shootout, and stole the win.
..I nearly dented my wall with my phone..
Gotta love seeing Matt Niskanen score, and Steve Ott’s breakaway goal was fantastic. Turco had the game of his life until the third period, and the shootout probably included goals he would want back. Buffalo’s offense was sparked by desperation, but Ryan Miller had a great game as well.

The Los Angeles game, a shootout win, proved that while the Stars haven’t had the greatest year, they can still pull out wins.

The Tampa Bay game, a devastating loss that saw the Stars collapse in the third period after leading 2-1 throughout most of the game, proved that the Stars can no longer look at a team and say, “easy win, don’t worry.”

However, the Florida game was against a team that I’ve considered an “easy win” opponent, and last night, the Stars seemed to get just that. After slightly struggling in the first period, and giving up a goal to Karlis Skrastins, the Stars turned up their game and powered their way to a 4-1 win, led by the duo of star-caliber Mikes on the team. Mike Modano, who will be in the All-Star game that is to arrive very soon, tied the game with a power-play goal from a beautiful Brad Richards set-up. Then Mike Ribeiro played goal-crasher, break-away speedster, and empty-net-scorer to get 3 goals for his first NHL hat trick.

Ribeiro’s hat trick made him the 5th Stars player to get a hat trick this season, and the 4th Stars player to get his first career, following Fabian Brunnstrom, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, and Mark Parrish.

Speaking of the All-Star game, I was glad to see Stephane Robidas chosen to replace an injured Nicklas Lidstrom for the Western Conference team. Robidas is definitely among the top defenders in the West, and although I think Nicklas Grossman has been more consistent this year, Robidas has still been one of the best defensemen for Dallas this year.

Injuries have struck the Stars over and over again this year. Steve Ott went down with a broken hand earlier in the year, and the drawbacks are still tangible, as he can’t provide a fighting presence for Dallas. Brenden Morrow’s been on the IR list since November, and no date has been placed on his return, which likely means he will in fact be out for the year. Joel Lundqvist has been placed on injured reserve a couple times already this season, and hopefully this current return will be his permanent one. Fabian Brunnstrom was recently placed on IR, and no word has been made about his return any time too soon. Landon Wilson was placed on injured reserve, and his efforts will be missed. It’s incredible that the Stars haven’t fallen any more than they have already with all these injuries.

Colton Sceviour was recently signed to a three-year contract. Hopefully, this means we’ll see another talented young Stars player in the line-up within the next few seasons.

1.14.2009

Versus proving itself a mistake

Tonight, another chapter will be added to the epic war that is the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

The rivalry features 3 of the most talented individuals in the league in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin, and each roster has many players that can play the game well. Ovechkin, affectionately called Ovie by fans across the world, has taken to trying to knock the lights out of Malkin every time the two players are on the ice together. While the “attack” seems to be unprovoked, and a little harsh, it adds excitement to the game.

Now, this is a game that I would watch, and I rarely watch games where the Stars aren’t playing.

And yet, my only ways to watch games where the Stars aren’t playing are NBC, which only shows a game a week and won’t be showing the Pens-Caps match, and Versus, which used up it’s own game of the week showing Detroit and Dallas on Monday.

Now, being a Stars fan, I’ll watch every Stars game as long as it’s possible somehow. But I don’t think too many people were going to watch the Detroit-Dallas game on Monday besides Wings fans who wanted to see Dallas get crushed again, and Stars fans (myself included) who wanted revenge.

While the game turned out to be an exciting one, it probably wouldn’t have gotten as many views as the Pittsburgh-Washington game would have.

Yet another scheduling mistake by Versus, and yet another reason why the NHL should find a better sports network to air most of its games.

1.13.2009

Oh. My. Gosh.

Before I get to the good stuff, I have to recap the previous couple of Stars games.

Thursday’s loss to Detroit was awful. Anybody watching the game who was a Stars fan was ashamed. Anyone affiliated with the Stars was ashamed. 6-1 is unacceptable.

The Phoenix game was somewhat better. Despite losing in a shootout when Kyle Turris scored the winning goal, it was a close game throughout regulation and overtime. It looked as though the Stars would be able to bounce back from the loss fairly quickly.

The start of Monday night’s game against Detroit was interesting. There were a few moments when the Stars appeared to gain momentum, but finishing the first period down 3-1 didn’t look promising. The only major bright spot was Nicklas Grossman’s first NHL regular season goal.

As the players returned to the ice for the second period, I was beginning to regret that the Stars would be playing Detroit again soon.

However, my hopes lifted when Stephane Robidas snapped a shot that made it through a screen of Steve Ott and a Detroit defender to slip past Chris Osgood. Then, with four minutes left in the second period, Mark Parrish and Krys Barch made a nice play to tie the game at 3-3.

Early in the third period, Pavel Datsyuk scored on a dazzling one-man effort and, after Detroit’s defense brought in their A game and shut down nearly every Dallas chance, the win was apparently locked in.

However, with 3:00 left in the game, Steve Ott, who had had a goal absolutely robbed from him by Chris Osgood earlier, proved that he can be a force in front of the net by pounding in the puck to tie the game at 4-4.

The overtime period was as tense as any, and when Trevor Daley poked in the puck for the winning goal, the hockey fans of my house exploded with joy. Of course, that meant I was the only one running around shouting “Daley! Daley! Daley!” at the top of my lungs.

My three stars of the game (which may or may not be the actual three stars) would have to be Nicklas Grossman, Trevor Daley, and Chris Osgood.

If anybody saw all the saves Osgood made in that game, they’d vote him at least third star. Think Patrick Roy-esque.

Grossman has consistently been the Stars best defensive defenseman the entire season, and seeing him get his first NHL goal only raises his potential.

Daley is the same story in the form of an offensive defenseman. His presence on offense has sparked a lot of Stars goals, and his ability to be the third/fourth man down low is vital, as evidenced by his rebound goal in OT.

1.07.2009

Modano an All-star again

It would’ve been even more awesome if Joe Sakic hadn’t been injured and was voted to the team as well.

In my opinion, Mike Modano and Joe Sakic are the league’s two most respected veteran centers, and along with perhaps Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Martin Broduer, Sergei Fedorov, and Mats Sundin, they represent an era of the NHL that, while it might turn out be a branch between four of the league’s ultimate superstars (Gretzky and Lemiuex, Crosby and Ovechkin), still had its own superstars and players that were league favorites.

Modano, along with Chelios, Sakic, and perhaps Sundin if he has a strong rest of the season, is one of the ageless wonders that has managed to play successfully well after many players of the same age have retired happily.

Chelios may have finally lost a step, and should be looking towards retirement soon, while Sakic could play until 2010 or later if he manages to stay healthy.

Modano has had another strong season for Dallas so far, garnering 13 goals and 26 points in 38 games. He’s a veteran of the all-star game, and I’m glad to have a reason to watch the all-star game this year.

However, there’s another Stars player who I personally think should be in Montreal instead of, if not along with, Modano.

Think leading Stars scorer with 20 goals.

Think top-6 goal scorers in the league.

Loui Eriksson has not only led the Stars in goals this season, but particularly picked up the pace when other snipers James Neal, Fabian Brunnstrom, and Modano suffered slumps.

He’s also been one of few Stars players to remain on the plus side of things so far, currently owning a +5 rating. He’s also stayed away from the penalty box, only earning 6 PIM’s, and he’s second behind Kyle Wellwood in shooting percentage out of players who have scored 10 times or more.

So why hasn’t this future Stars leader been voted to the all-star game? Perhaps the same reason Keith Tkachuk (39 games, 14 goals, 27 points, -11) got voted over Patrick Marleau (39 games, 19 goals, 42 points, +15 rating). The world may never know…

3-2 Shootout Victory

Well, the game against Vancouver turned out better than I expected. The Stars came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game behind the heroics of James Neal in the shootout.

Loui Eriksson and Mike Modano also scored in the shootout, while Neal assisted on Modano’s goal in the first period, and Mike Ribeiro scored during the second period to tie the game and eventually send it into OT.

I didn’t get to see much of the game, but apparently the Stars are definitely back in top shape these days because it’s been a rare occurence to see the Stars win the second game of back-to-back games.

For now, the Stars have a quick break, and we’ll see if they can keep up their momentum in the next game.

1.04.2009

Loss to Edmonton, hoping for better results against the 'Nucks

Well, last night’s game against the Oilers didn’t go as planned, but it was largely due to the effort made by Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson, who stopped 38 of 39 shots to earn star-of-the-game honors at the game, and in the NHL for that night.

Despite the large number of saves Roloson made, none of them made the highlight reel, and through the part of the game that I watched, the Stars just didn’t put enough effort into putting their scoring chances on net.

Kudos to Andrew Hutchinson and James Neal for combining to get the only Stars goal of the night. Nicklas Grossman was definitely the Stars best defender, and Turco did what he could in net, although I’m sure he wishes he could get the Cole and Souray goals back, if not all of them.

I’m worried that with the Stars going on the road to Vancouver in order to play tonight, the team won’t have had time to rest. Hopefully they can pull through and at least make a respectable game out of it, but I’m not sure how well it will work out. A key will be shutting down the Sedin twins, because even though the Canucks have been getting offense from players such as Kyle Wellwood, Mason Raymond, and Ryan Kesler, the Sedin twins are still the top scorers by 10+ points.

1.02.2009

Josh Bailey's first NHL goal

Although I display myself as a Stars fan, the Islanders are a relatively close second favorite and tonight it was great to notice that Josh Bailey has scored his first NHL goal.

Now, I still think it was a little foolish of Garth Snow to bring Bailey up right after drafting him, but he’s held his own so far and finally got his first NHL goal against Phoenix earlier tonight.

Hopefully in the near future, we’ll see Bailey and Kyle Okposo, another Islanders rookie, lighting the lamp on the top line for New York.

Two games to close the year

The last two games of 2008 for Dallas were a loss to San Jose and a win against New Jersey.

Now, if anyone wants to see definite proof that the Stars have had a huge turnaround since getting rid of Sean Avery, just look at the two times Dallas has played New Jersey this year.

In the first Stars-Devils game, the Stars had Avery in the lineup, and while they had been struggling in previous games, a blowout loss of 5-0 was unexpected.

Now, when the two teams met on New Year’s Eve, it was a different story. Dallas was 4-2 in its past 6 games, and went on to win 4-2, with Avery out of the lineup.
Granted, the Devils were without the services of Martin Brodeur, but Scott Clemensen has filled in well, and the Stars' win was a well-earned one.

Loui Eriksson scored two great goals, including a short-handed marker to open the game. Brad Richards had 3 assists, including helping out on both Eriksson goals. Landon Wilson also scored a goal, his second of the year, and Mark Parrish got his fifth goal of the year, proving that he can still provide the occasional skilled shot past the goalie.

The Sharks game wasn’t the best it could have been for Dallas, but they didn’t perform terribly, and they can’t help that the Sharks are the strongest team in the league, second only possibly to Detroit.

So far, the Stars are getting back to the style of winning that had people rating them as potential Stanley Cup champs before the season began. If they can hold themselves in a playoff position long enough, they just might be able to go far.