Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 7: The Good and the Bad (With Pictures)

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Dallas Stars 4-1 loss at Detroit Red Wings
Shots: Dallas 26, Detroit 27
PP: Dallas 0-5, Detroit 1-6

The Good:

Kari Lehtonen- You can look at the score and say he let 4 goals in, but a deeper look will reveal that three of the goals were on defensive mistakes. Datyuk picked Jordie Benn’s pocket behind the net and fed the puck to a wide open Filppula in the slot on the first goal. Brunner was left alone standing in front of Lehtonen and he deflected the puck into the net. The last goal was scored when Datsyuk drew two players out of position and commanded the attention of four Stars. Daley didn’t forget about covering Filppula, but Filppula slid back just enough to get open and one-time the pass from Datsyuk into the net. The second goal was scored at the end of a 5-on-3 on a one-timer from Zetterberg in the circle to Lehtonen’s right. He made a huge point-blank stop on Abdelkader early on and robbed Filppula twice in the game. One of the saves on Filppula I still can’t figure out how it wasn't scored, and the other chance was when Lehtonen stoned Filppula on a breakaway.
Abdelkader's chance. you can see Robidas and Smith both covering Cleary which provided the open ice for Abdelkader.

Unbelievable stop on Filppula, still not quite sure how it didn't go in.

Toughness- The Stars finally showed some toughness, but it didn’t get them far. The Stars hadn’t taken part in a fight this season until the opening faceoff and Nystrom went at it with Tootoo. Tootoo won that fight landing a few punches and pulling Nystrom’s jersey over his head. Dillon picked a fight with Tootoo 16 minutes later and landed a series of five straight uppercuts before they both resorted to a few missed swings and lots of body shots. Robidas had a huge collision with Eaves that sent both players flying. The hits were 18-17 in favor of Detroit but both sides made their physicality felt more than the numbers indicate.
Nystrom's fight with Tooto off the opening faceoff.

The biggest hit/collision of the game.

One of Dillon's five consecutive uppercuts.

Penalty Kill- there’s good and bad here. The Stars don’t want to test their penalty kill this much, but on the other hand they sure are doing great. They gave up a goal at the end of a 5-on-3 which can’t really be too much to point to there, but besides that, they held strong. They blocked numerous shots and took away many passing lanes well.

This set up is what the Stars have been rolling with on their current penalty kill streak. 

Zetterberg's 5-on-3 goal with the help of Cleary screening Lehtonen.

The Bad:            

Penalties (especially in offensive zone)- I am at a loss for words with this. The trend continues. The Stars took 6 penalties, not including the two fighting majors. Wandell, Jamie Benn and Whitney took all of their second period penalties in the offensive zone. Those penalties drive coaches (and fans) mad. There’s no need for it. It’s one thing it it’s an iffy call, but these were two high-sticking penalties and a hooking penalty that gave the Red Wings momentum and eventually a goal.

Defensive coverage- I went over this in the Kari Lehtonen paragraph. Too many miscues and mistakes in the defensive zone. Three goals came directly from those mistakes and don’t forget all the chances created by their mistakes that Lehtonen bailed them out on.
Filppula's first goal. He had way too much space out in front of the net.

Filppula's second goal. He slipped back and away just enough to get the space he needed to put the one-timer behind Lehtonen.

Brunner's goal. two Stars were in front of him. His stick wasn't tied up, he wasn't being hassled, nothing. He was left to tip the puck home.

Filppula's breakaway chance at a hat-trick stopped by Lethonen (look for the puck going 5-hole).

Back-to-back ineptness- Continuing the trend from last season, the Stars cannot win back-to-backs for whatever reason. At least they usually win the first game, but this time around they lost both. Not sure where the effort was against Columbus Monday, but hopefully it wasn’t being reserved for the game against Detroit because if so, that backfired. The Stars have 7 more back-to-backs this season, starting on Friday and Saturday with a home-and-home against the division-rival Phoenix Coyotes.

Power play- in the 3rd, it was just embarrassing. Couldn’t even enter the zone. Before that, the Stars struggled but managed to enter the zone a few times, but when they did, they lost the puck on their first move or first pass and had to chase after the clearing attempt. On the power play at the end of the 1st period, the power play looked good. They moved the puck well, moved it constantly and managed some good looks for shots. But then on the 5-on-3 they only managed one good shot.

Ryder had this chance late on a power play, but it rang off the post.

Not much room for the Stars to do anything on the power play. The fact they got this set up on a power play was a good sign. Most of the night they couldn't even enter the zone with possession.

Icings- I felt like there were way too many icings and not just that, but they mostly seemed to be unnecessary and mindless. They didn’t immediately result in a goal against but icing kills momentum and forces extra work just to get out of the zone and get a change in.

Lines seen tonight:

PP- Eriksson-Whitney-Ryder-Daley-Larsen
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Robidas-Dillon
PK- Fiddler-Nystrom-Robidas-Dillon
PK- Benn-Eriksson-Daley-Benn
PK- Wandell-Smith-Robidas-Dillon
PK- Benn-Eriksson-Benn-Larsen
3-man PK- Eakin-Dillon-Robidas
3-man PK- Fiddler-Benn-Robidas (elongated stay on ice)
3-man PK- Nystrom-Benn-Robidas (elongated stay on ice)

Notable Notes:
  • Richard Bachman was brought in to replace Lehtonen with 4:30 left in the 3rd period.
  • Derek Roy was out with the groin injury while Vincour was a healthy scratch and Sceviour was sent back to the AHL.
Eriksson's goal came on a rebound off of Howard's right pad on Eakin's shot.

The Wizard's photo bomb streak remains!

Dallas Stars Game 7: 4-1 Loss at the Detroit Red Wings

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The deplorable Detroit weather outside of Joe Louis Arena mirrored the play of the Dallas Stars inside the arena Tuesday night.

The Detroit Red Wings scored two goals in the second period and another two goals 23 seconds apart in the third to defeat the Stars 4-1. The Stars lost their fourth consecutive game, and they have now lost three of their four back-to-back games this season.

Kari Lehtonen turned in another strong performance stopping 23 of 27 shots, but turnovers, defensive lapses and most of all penalties did the Stars in. The Stars’ first two fights of the season came in the first period and the Stars added six more penalties. They only gave up one power play goal with a few seconds left of a 5-on-3, but they failed to score a power play goal on five attempts.

Loui Eriksson scored the lone goal for the Stars on a rebound off of a shot by Cody Eakin. Valtteri Filppula bookmarked Detroit’s scoring and Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner each added a goal.

Defensive miscues led to three of Detroit’s goals. On the first goal, Pavel Datsyuk lifted Jordie Benn’s stick behind the Stars goal and passed to a wide open Filppula in the slot who one-timed the puck into the net.

The Red Wings took a 3-1 lead when Brunner was left alone in front of Lehtonen as he deflected a Johan Franzen slap shot from the point. Twenty-three seconds later Datyuk made a move up the middle of the Stars’ zone that dragged two Eakin and Whitney out of position. Datsyuk made a cross-ice pass to Filppula who had drifted away from Trevor Daley just enough to take the shot uncontested.

The Stars have two days to collect themselves and practice before they face another back-to-back. They host the Phoenix Coyotes Friday night and then travel to play in Phoenix Saturday night.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 6: The Good and the Bad (With Pictures)

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Dallas Stars lose 2-1 to Columbus Blue Jackets
Shots: Dallas 25, Columbus 27
PP: Dallas 1-4, Columbus 0-7

The Good:

Jamie Benn- Oh how we missed him. He did well in faceoffs, had an assist, 2 shots, a hit and over 20 minutes of ice time over all situations. His skill, speed, body and passing was on display in his first game of the season. His timing was a little off and his speed isn’t what it can be, but he didn’t seem out of place or in need of a week to catch up. The more he plays, the faster the rust will be brushed off, but this was a positive start.

Special teams- 1-for-4 on the power play and 7-for-7 on the penalty kill!? That’s amazing. Only problem is the fact that the Stars took 7 penalties but other than that their special teams were on. They managed the puck decently on the power play, getting a variety of different shots in. Morrow screened Bobrovsky to help Larsen’s shot from the point go in. and on the PK the Stars were saved by Lehtonen many times but they also were solid in front of the net. If Kari gave up a rebound, they were there to clear, especially the forwards during the 5-on-3. They had 3 or 4 short-handed chances, and kept Columbus out of the middle for the most part.

PK looked really strong, active and cleared the puck well.

Faceoffs- Jamie Benn didn’t start off strong losing his first two, but he won 12-of-22. Eakin went 7-for-14 and Wandell won the only faceoff he took. Surprisingly, the weak link in faceoffs was Fiddler, who went 4-for-12. Three other players pitched in winning a faceoff each: Morrow, Nystrom and Eriksson.

Kari Lehtonen- I’m going to keep putting him here until he proves he shouldn’t be permanently stamped under this category. Yet again, he kept the Stars in the game. He was unbelievable killing the 5-on-3 in the second period, stopping all 8 shots faced. He made an unbelievable save, probably a save of the year candidate early this season. Click here to watch the video of the save. A shot hit off of him up high and popped behind him toward the gaping net. Lehtonen reached behind his back and nabbed the puck out of midair with his glove along the goal line.

The Bad:

Stars 1st line- Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments. They were able to enter the zone effectively most of the time. Their creativity was on display several times, and they were strong on both sides of the ice, but this is the first line. And against the Columbus Blue Jackets they were pretty much shut down and kept off the score sheet? They are 3 very creative, offensively talented players but all they could muster was 3 shots on goal? Eakin, Whitney and Ryder combined for 8 shots and what felt like many more opportunities. No offense to Nikitin and Tyutin but that line (if kept together) will face many more daunting matchups, so I would’ve liked to see more out of this line.

Digressing during the game- The Stars seem to be in a habit this season of starting off strong and energetic and focused but then digressing as the game moves along. Although the first period was relatively slow and uneventful, the Stars were very strong. They outshot Columbus 9-3 and were very solid on defense, providing puck support and a quick exit from the zone. Then after their elongated penalty kill in the second, the Stars just seemed to fade away. Columbus came out strong in the 3rd period, and manhandled the Stars after taking the lead early on Prospal’s goal. They were more physical, speedy and won the puck battles. The Stars seemed to gain some life when they were scrambled late to tie the game, but it’s far too late in the game to wake up and try. Have to give a solid 60-minute performance, and until the Stars do that, they can expect to keep seeing these types of results.

Weak offense and Forecheck- The Stars seemed to enter the zone fine most of the night, as long as they took a shot quickly. Dump and chase didn’t work, passing inside the zone usually led to a turnover and they were outnumbered along the boards and lost most of the battles. When the Stars finally did manage a shot, they mostly ended up in the middle of Bobrovsky’s stomach. And the forecheck… was it even there? As Razor pointed out, late in the game the Stars were heavy on the attack and even sent a defenseman to pinch in, but Columbus repeatedly would either skate out of the zone up the middle or would make a pass and easily glide out of their own zone.

Penalties- I touched on this earlier so I’ll just say, the Stars need to stop doing two things: taking so many penalties, and taking dumb penalties. Simple enough. And Fiddler got a rare double-penalty for hooking and high sticking on the same play. I don’t remember ever seeing that before.

Lines seen tonight:
Eriksson- Benn-Jagr

PP- Eriksson-whitney-ryder-benn-daley
PP- Morrow-benn-jagr-larsen-goligoski
PK- Benn-eriksson-benn-daley
PK- Fiddler-nystrom-robidas-dillon
PK- Eakin-garbutt-robidas-dillon
PK- Eakin-eriksson-daley-benn
PK- Eakin-eriksson-robidas-dillon
PK- Wandell-garbutt-robidas-dillon
PK- Fiddler-wandell-robidas-dillon
3 man PK- Eakin-robidas-daley
3 man PK- Nystrom-benn-dillon

Notable Notes:
  • Injuries- Roy (groin), Nilstorp (groin), Rome (flu)
  • Healthy scratches- Reilly Smith and Colton Sceviour
Ray Whitney photo bomb streak continues!

Great puck support to get out of the zone (early on) but that faded away.

Columbus goal: Robidas for some reason over-committed on Anisimov even though Dillon was right there. Tyutin made a pass to a wide open Dorsett on the right for the one-timer goal. 

This thing never gets old!

Dallas goal: Morrow screened Bobrovsky. You can faintly see the puck already next to Bob while he's still maneuvering to look around the screen.

Whitney had a great chance, but the puck bounced over his stick.

Columbus goal: Prospal's stick is in the top left of the screen. That's where the shot came from. Johanssen screened Lehtonen a little on the goal. 

Another view of Prospal's goal. Terrible angle, but a goal is a goal. Throw it on net, you never know.

This was the Stars' best chance to tie and Bobrovsky's best save of the night. Ryder wide open in the slot.

Dallas Stars Game 6: 2-1 Loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets

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Once again, close but no cigar.

It was a fortunate goal that gave the Dallas Stars an unfortunate fate Monday night.  Columbus Blue Jackets forward Vaclav Prospal stood behind the Stars’ red line and threw the puck at the net. It bounced off of the outside of Kari Lehtonen’s left skate and up into the goal to give Columbus the lead and, eventually, the win.

In his season debut, Jamie Benn assisted on a Stars’ power play goal that gave them a 1-0 early in the second period, but it wasn’t enough as the Stars lost their third game in a row. The Stars have now lost four games by one goal.

The Stars were again outshot (27-25), but Lehtonen made several key saves throughout the game to keep it close. They had a strong night on special teams going 1-for-4 on the power play and killing all seven of their penalties, including a full two-minute 5-on-3 in the second period.

The Stars played a strong first period. They outshot the Blue Jackets 9-3 and maintained a strong defense, but after 3 penalties in the second period, their energy and effectiveness seemed to wane.

Defenseman Philip Larsen opened the scoring 4:13 into the first period when Benn entered the offensive zone and drew the attention of all four Columbus penalty killers. He then passed the puck back to Alex Goligoski who passed the puck to his right along the blue line. Brenden Morrow jostled for position in front of the net and screened goalie Sergei Bobrovsky as Larsen Fired the puck into the top left corner.

Columbus tied the game late in the second period when Arten Anisimov sped into the Stars zone and left the puck behind for Fedor Tyutin. They drew the attention of both Stars defenseman, and Tyutin passed the puck to his left a wide open Derek Dorsett for a one-timer.

The Stars have a quick turnaround as the play in Detroit against the Red Wings Tuesday night. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 5: The Good and the Bad (With Pictures)

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Dallas Stars lose 4-3 to St. Louis Blues
Shots: Dallas 23, St. Louis 32
PP: Dallas 1-4, St. Louis 0-3

The Good:

Special teams- The Stars finally had a night where they were strong on both sides of special teams. Their PK shut out the league’s best power play team and Ryder scored a power play goal after a long sequence of passes and keeping the puck in the Blues’ zone. The PK was aggressive and cleared out many good opportunities.
Stars PK with some strong positioning, covering the point, cutting off passing lanes and pushing out the man in front of the net. 

Forecheck- I felt like the Stars had a very aggressive, very strong forecheck. They made the Blues earn their space and fought for their trips up ice. Specifically, I thought Eakin and Smith stood out to me. They would hassle and harass on the forecheck. The Stars’ forecheck forced a turnover that led to Garbutt’s goal in the 3rd.

Faceoffs- The Stars had a really good night winning 33 of 60 faceoffs. That may not sound too good, but when you take into consideration who they were missing and what their centers looked like on paper compared to the Blues, it was great. The best for the Stars, again, were Fiddler (9-of-16) and Eakin (15-of-26), but they were also aided by a couple of fillers in Nystrom (2-for-2) and Whitney (4-for-4).

Puck support- With the way the Blues play, the Stars knew they had to be strong in terms of puck support to have a chance to win. Gulutzan said so himself before the game. The Stars seemed spaced apart pretty well and there almost always was assistance along the boards during puck battles. They managed to outnumber the Blues along wall most of the night. Winning puck battles led to both of the Stars’ goals in the 1st period

Newbies- Sceviour got a takeaway which led to an assist and took a couple of big hits to make plays and Vincour scored a goal in his return to the Stars lineup. Considering who was out of the Stars’ lineup tonight, it was very positive to get contributions from these two.

Biggest hit of the night. And Sceviour took that just to get the puck out of the zone.

The Bad:

Injuries- The Stars faced their first real injury-plagued game of the season. Roy was out with soreness, Jagr is day-to-day with a back injury and Lehtonen had tweaked something the in the last game. Benn was injured but he wasn’t able to suit up for this game, so consider that another loss in the lineup. And then in the 3rd, Nilstorp got hurt after he spread his legs to make a save on Mcdonald. After making the save, he was flat on the ice and slow to get up. That was with 16:29 left in the period. He labored on making several more saves, but he was clearly in pain and uncomfortable. Finally with 7:41 left he was replaced by Lehtonen. Hopefully this won’t be repeated because Roy and Jagr are expected back next game and Benn should also join the team at that time.

The play where Nilstorp hurt his groin. 

Daley’s turnovers- From my account, Daley had two huge turnovers in his own zone that directly led to two Blues goals. First, Daley had trouble clearing the puck and lost a battle along the boards to Berglund. Berglund took the puck, skated at the net and passed the puck across ice and in between Nilstorp and Rome to Stewart to one-timed it in. that gave the Blues the lead. And on St. Louis’ 4th goal, Daley attempted to clear the pass by passing the puck up ice, along the ice, up the middle of the zone. Tarasenko intercepted the pass at the blue line and passed it right to Perron, who took a few strides and wristed it past Nilstorp.

Aaron Rome- He was either seen on the ice when the Stars got scored on or was mostly invisible. He did bring in toughness, starting a couple of scuffles in front of Nilstorp, and he also landed 3 hits, but he managed a giveaway and was a -2 on the night.

Screens- simply put, Nilstorp didn't stand a chance at a couple of the goals. The Blues kept sending two players in front of the net, and it seemed like the Stars' defense couldn't do much to move them.

Nilstorp had two big bodies, mostly Stewart, in front of him blocking his vision on the Blues' first goal.

Can you spot Perron and/or the puck? Nilstorp didn't have a chance to see the puck on this goal.

Lines seen tonight:


Notable Notes:

  • 11 years ago to the day, Hitchcock was relieved of his duties as Stars’ coach, he came back to Dallas and won. 
                                              Always good to see Hitch! The memories...

Whitney's photobomb.

Stars setting up well in their zone. Early on, with this set up, they forced the Blues to the outside.

The Blues' first goal. Sobotka drew out two Stars himself leaving Redden wide open at the right point for the shot.

Vincour's goal. A heck of a pass between 3 Blues from Fiddler for the set up.

I liked seeing this. May not be ideal, but it completely shut down the attack. 

Can't get enough of the green Batman mask.

Ryder's goal.

Reilly Smith had a unbelievable chance out of the penalty box, but it went just outside the post.

This was the pass from Berglund to Stewart. Never should have made it to Stewart to begin with.

Garbutt's goal. Morrow on the far left had the no-look, behind-the-back pass.

Whitney's shot with 1:07 left in the game banged off the left post!

Dallas Stars Game 5: 4-3 Loss to the St. Louis Blues

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The Dallas Stars had a case of the blues Saturday night.

Eleven years to the day coach Ken Hitchcock was fired by the Dallas Stars, he returned to Dallas as the St. Louis Blues' Jack Adams-winning bench boss. Despite being outshot, having several key forwards sitting due to injuries and sustaining an injured goalie, the Stars fought and clawed their way into a tight game against last year’s Central Division champion St. Louis Blues. In the end, the Stars have nothing to show for their valiant effort, losing 4-3.

It was a close-knit, physical game full of hits, blocked shots and puck battles. Ray Whitney had an opportunity to tie the game when he collected the puck behind the Blues defenders, but his shot rang off the post and out with 1:07 left in regulation.

Stars goalie Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 25 out of 29 shots before being pulled due to injury. He injured his groin making a save on Andy McDonald with 16:29 left in the 3rd period. He continues to play, laboring and struggling until he seemed to hurt it even more making a save on David Perron with 9:19 left. Finally, after a stop in play with 7:41 left in the game, Nilstorp was replaced by Kari Lehtonen, who reportedly had sustained his own injury tweaking something last game.

New Blues defender Wade Redden opened the scoring with a one-timer blast from the point 5:31 into the game. The Stars came right back down the ice and tied it 26 seconds later when Vernon Fiddler passed the puck through three Blues to recent call-up Tomas Vincour. His first shot went off Jaroslav Halak’s pad and to his left, but Vincour was there to collect the rebound and wrist in high over Halak’s left shoulder.

The Stars power play went 1-for-4 on the night and the lone power play goal by Michael Ryder put the Stars up 2-1 with 7:20 left in the opening period. The Blues’ league-leading power play went 0-for-3 on the night.

The Blues dominated the second period, scoring three goals. Anthony Stewart scored the middle goal and Perron bookmarked the scoring with two quick wrist shots from the slot.

A great no-look, behind-the-back centering feed from Brenden Morrow to Ryan Garbutt brought the Stars to within a goal in the 3rd period. Despite outshooting the Blues in the final frame, the Stars failed to put one behind Halak to force the tie.

Once again, the Stars were outshot 32-23, but they managed to win more faceoffs (33-27) and have more takeaways (9 to 5).

The Stars were missing Jaromir Jagr (back), Derek Roy (soreness) and Jamie Benn still hadn’t been able to get his paperwork finalized to play. In their places, Vincour and Colton Sceviour  joined the forward lines and defenseman Aaron Rome made his Stars debut.

Benn is expected to join the Stars in their next game when they travel to Ohio to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.