Monday, October 28, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 10: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3.
Shots: Dallas 29, Buffalo 25
PP: Dallas 1/3, Buffalo 1/3
Hits: Dallas 20, Buffalo 30
Faceoffs: Dallas 39, Buffalo 19

Blocked Shots: Dallas 15, Buffalo 14

The Good:

Cole- He looked really good, like he got his legs back. It had been reported he was battling a nagging injury, which explained his weak play over the past few games. Tonight, he was fast along the boards, quick on his turns and stops, crisp in his passes, and my favorite part, excellent on the backcheck. Add a couple of assists and three shots, and he had a good night.

Dallas goal #3

Nichushkin- He keeps looking better and better. Easy to tell he is getting more acclimated and comfortable and confident. It will all eventually come together for the young Russian, but for now, steps forward are good signs. His speed and physicality was a step up again. He was good on the backcheck, negating an odd-man rush in the first period most notably and he was decent in moving the puck around. The best part of his game to me tonight was his offensive rushes. He had two solid chances created by his size, speed and reach. We are all waiting for his first, and can only hope it snowballs for him from there.

Another chance for Nichushkin. Clear that his size, speed and reach created this opportunity. 

Power play- They didn’t take as many shots as I would like, but they looked solid with the man advantage. The double-minor to Ott in the first changed the game in favor of Dallas. They controlled the puck well, only let the puck leave the zone 3 times and got five shots on goal. They also added a missed shot, two blocked shots and a shot off the post. On the second powerplay, they kept the puck in the Buffalo zone for about 1:42 straight. In that time, they put 8 shots on net, had one miss the net and had two blocked.

Dallas goal #2

My favorite power play set up.

Fourth line- They were more dominant in the first period, but they had a solid night. They were buzzing in the offensive end, tallied a goal and did alright in their own zone. They were noticeable when on the ice. That plus production equals a good night for any 4th line.

Dallas goal #1

Top line- More greatness from the top line. Their speed, puck movement and ability to get the puck to the net has been great. Cole did well back as right wing in place of Peverley. Really anyone with Seguin and Benn should do well, but Cole has clicked well with the duo this season and his drive to the net fits in well. 

Dallas goal #4

Faceoffs- I can't even remember the last time I said this, but the Stars absolutely dominated the faceoff dots this game. Especially Jamie Benn. Not sure what was going on tonight, but it was great to see the team do so well on the draw finally. Jamie Benn won all 9 of his faceoffs, Peverley won 8 of 11, Eakin won 12 of 16, Fiddler won 5 of 10, Horcoff won 3 of 7, Cole won 1 of 2, Chiasson won his only draw and Seguin lost both of his faceoffs. 

The Bad:

Turnovers in own zone- yet again, this very familiar problem comes up. Several turnovers were salvaged by Lehtonen, but a couple of them led to Buffalo goals. The first one was a turnover on a pass by Fiddler to an ill-advised rush by Daley. The second, Daley let a puck get loose from him behind the net and soft defense in the slot left Moulson with a chance to deflect the puck, collect it back and score. Dillon, Jamie Benn and Robidas gave up massive turnovers in the first period alone that led to big scoring chances for Buffalo. The second period didn’t necessarily provide more turnovers, but they were definitely more costly.

Buffalo goal #2

Buffalo goal #3

Lines seen tonight:
Goligoski-Jordie Benn

PP- Seguin-Benn-Chiasson-Goligoski- Whitney
PP- Nichushkin-Peverley-Cole-Jordie Benn-Gonchar
PK- Fiddler-Roussel-Dillon-Robidas (Eakin in the box)
PK- Horcoff- Fiddler-Daley-Jordie Benn (Fiddler unable to change)
PK- Fiddler-Roussel-Goligoski-Robidas (Dillon in the box)
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Daley-Jordie Benn (Dillon in the box)
PK- Horcoff-Peverley-Goligoski- Robidas (Dillon, Roussel and Fiddler in the box)

Notable Notes:

Some huge saves by Kari

Buffalo goal #1

Stars hit of the game

I miss this guy

A great chance by Benn in the first period, thwarted by a Miller poke check at the last second.

A great chance for Chiasson on the PP, but he was robbed by Miller's glove along the goal line. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 8: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars lose to the Anaheim Ducks 6-3.
Shots: Dallas 36, Anaheim 47
PP: Dallas 1/4, Anaheim 2/5
Hits: Dallas 31, Anaheim 28
Faceoffs: Dallas 42, Anaheim 32

Blocked Shots: Dallas 11, Anaheim 13

The Good:

Campbell- Hear me out on this one, there is good and there is bad with Campbell’s play in this game. Forget the score and consider the situation. A 21-year old goalie getting his first NHL start in the second game of a hard-fought back-to-back for a team with struggling defense. He made 41 saves on 47 shots. 47 shots!? I was impressed with Campbell’s play tonight. He was strong from the start. He held strong on his posts, stopped several re-directions from the slot and bailed out some big defensive errors. He got no help on three of the first four Ducks goals. He should have stopped Getzlaf’s goal early in the third, but an argument can be made that Getzlaf never should have been left so open and with so much time to get that chance. Campbell’s bright future has some tangible, visual evidence now. It’s still early in his career, but I can’t help but be excited at the potential future of the netminder.

A big save on a redirection early in the game.

Another big save, this one on a wide open Fowler. 

Big stop on Perry from the slot. 

Garbutt- He was heavily involved, sticking his nose in all three zones and getting production. A goal, 2 shots, 4 hits, a block, a breakaway, a huge hit on Penner… He was one of the most noticeable Stars on the ice tonight.

Dallas goal #1

New defensive pairs- Just wanted to do a quick shoutout to Ruff for finally changing up the defense and breaking up the Goligoski/Gonchar pairing. They have been the most frustrating Stars to watch this season. I’m not talking about defense only, I mean in general. It makes sense to finally break them up. Also, I like that Ruff kept Dillon and Robidas together. No need to break them up, just change the disastrous pairing and gain some stability in the back end.

Dallas goal #2

Faceoffs- Seguin won 4 of 12, Eakin won 13 of 20, Peverley won 8 of 9, Horcoff won 7 of 15, Fiddler won 7 of 13, Chiason won 1 of 2, Benn won both of his faceoffs and Cole lost his only draw. 

The Bad:

Penalty kill- Two ways to look at this: they took too many unnecessary penalties, and the PK was not very good tonight. The Ducks seemed to have the puck in the Stars’ zone nearly the entire time they had a man advantage. The Stars didn’t have the puck on their sticks much and when they did, they struggled to clear the zone. As mentioned below, the Stars could not eliminate the Ducks’ net presence. Perry and company were left to stand uncontested in front of Campbell. They only managed to clear the puck 8 times during their 5 kills. They gave up 18 shots on goal in those same 5 kills. 

Power play- Dallas did a little better on their entries and keeping the puck in the offensive zone against the Ducks than they did against the Sharks. They started the night strong with a goal on their only shot of the first power play, but the short-handed goal against was ugly enough to negate that. The good news is that they put 12 shots on net in their four power plays. 

Dallas goal #3

Finally the Stars got their high-tip set up on the power play going, and they got a goal out of it. 

Net presence- This is for both offense and defense. The Stars didn’t put many bodies in front of the Anaheim goal. They didn’t have to fight off many screens or deflections, and the Stars didn’t crash the net nearly as hard as the Ducks. Anaheim seemed to always have a player in Campbell’s face whether it was the power play or full-strength. The inability to eliminate Perry and the others in front of Campbell led to a couple of goals and several more chances for the Ducks. 

Perry alone in front on a Ducks goal.

Three Stars in a line watching the puck leaving Etem alone in front.

Selanne left all alone on the Ducks' first goal.

Lines seen tonight:
Daley-Jordie Benn

Changed lineup:
Gonchar-Jordie Benn
PP- Cole-Horcoff-Benn-Seguin-Gonchar
PP- Cole-Horcoff-Benn-Seguin-Jordie Benn
PK- Fiddler-Roussel-Dillon-Robidas (Garbutt in the box)
PK- Peverley-Benn-Daley-Jordie Benn (Garbutt in the box)
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Daley-Goligoski (Roussel in the box)
PK-Horcoff-Garbutt-Dillon-Robidas (Roussel in the box)
PK- Fiddler-Chiasson-Daley-Goligoski (Roussel in the box)
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Dillon-Robidas (Garbutt in the box)
PK- Fiddler-Roussel-Daley-Jordie Benn (Garbutt in the box)
PK- Horcoff-Peverley-Daley-Jordien Benn (Garbutt in the box)        
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Dillon-Robidas (Horcoff in the box)
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Dillon-Robidas (Horcoff in the box)
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Goligoski-Daley (Horcoff in the box)

PK-Peverley-Roussel-Goligoski-Daley (Horcoff in the box)

Notable Notes:

The Benn-Beauchemin fight!!!

Anaheim goal #1

Anaheim goal #2

Anaheim goal #3

Anaheim goal #4

Anaheim goal #5

Anaheim goal #6

Some great puck movement from the top line that almost resulted in a goal. 

Garbutt is the blurry figure in the top middle of the screenshot. He plowed into Penner after release of the puck, knocking Penner out of the game. 

Scary scene after the hit on Penner. He did not look good at all as he was taken off the ice.

Hate seeing this happen to anyone. Penner couldn't stand on his own and when he was up, his legs couldn't hold him. Hopefully he isn't hurt too badly and he comes back soon. 

Dallas Stars Game 7: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars lose to the Los Angeles Kings 5-2.
Shots: Dallas 29, Los Angeles 34
PP: Dallas 0/5, Los Angeles 1/3
Hits: Dallas 29, Los Angeles 50
Faceoffs: Dallas 32, Los Angeless 35

Blocked Shots: Dallas 18, Los Angeles 6

The Good:

Ellis (minus the Clifford goal)- Ellis wasn’t as bad as the score may make his night seem. He was solid in bailing the Stars out of their horrible turnovers. He stopped several breakaways, fought through screens and did well handling the puck. This game could have gotten out of hand if Ellis let in goals on just the plays where the Kings knocked the puck out of the air and took it in for a shot. One of his best saves was on a one-timer from a few feet out during the first period. He didn’t get much help on the first Williams goal. A fortunate bounce off a cross-crease pass is tough for any goalie to stop. His defense didn’t help enough on the second Williams goal. The only goal I really had a problem with was the Clifford goal. A simple shot from barely inside the zone shouldn’t flutter into the goal, whether or not it was a knuckler or slightly deflected.

Los Angeles goal #4

Top line- Seguin, Benn and Peverley may not have dominated the game, but they did produce and were constant threats the whole game. The line scored both of the Dallas goals and created several other chances in the game, including the power play. They ended up even on the night and combined for 9 shots.

Dallas goal #1

Dallas goal #2

The Bad:

Special teams- Terrible. They simply couldn’t capitalize on their chances and were bad at stopping the Kings’ chances. 0-5 on the power play is embarrassing. They mustered a total of 6 shots on goal and one off the post. Six shots on five power plays? They should get 6 shots on one or two power plays. The Kings managed to clear the zone 14 times. Dallas moved the puck well a few times on the first power play, looked patient on the second power play and took lots of shots on the third and fourth power play. They need to find a way to combine all the good things they do off and on here and there. They need to find a way to be consistent. The worst part was watching them try to enter the Kings zone. They had no rhythm, no flow. Missed passes, turnovers, circling back around and losing a dump-and-chase happened way too often for anything positive to happen with the man advantage.

Los Angeles goal #2

Turnovers- 14 giveaways. Let that sink in. 14. They gave the Kings the puck 14 times. Add to that how many times they lost battles along the boards, miss-handled the puck or  dumped the puck in unsuccessfully and you get the idea. They have to be better with the puck. Fortunately, Ellis bailed them out of a lot of mistakes, but it wasn’t enough. Missed passes in their own zone, intercepted passes in the neutral zone and loss of possession entering the Kings’ zone killed the Stars tonight.

Probably my favorite save of the night from Ellis. 

Faceoffs- Seguin won 4 of 9, Benn won 4 of 11, Peverley won 4 of 11, Fiddler won 7 of 13, Eakin won 5 of 9, Horcoff won 6 of 11 and Chiasson won 2 of 3.

Lines seen tonight:
Daley-Jordie Benn

PP- Benn-Seguin-Chiasson-Whitney-Gonchar
PP- Eakin-Peverley-Cole-Nichushkin-Goligoski
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Dillon-Robidas
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Goligoski-Jordie Benn
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Daley-Robidas

Notable Notes:

Roussel's fight with Carcillo

Los Angeles goal #1

Los Angeles goal #3

Los Angeles goal #5

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 5: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars lose to the Colorado Avalanche 3-2.
Shots: Dallas 41, Colorado 26
PP: Dallas 1/4, Colorado 0/2
Hits: Dallas 12, Colorado 16
Faceoffs: Dallas 33, Colorado 32
Blocked Shots: Dallas 13, Colorado 18

The Good:

Special teams- The Stars didn’t take many penalties, and they killed both times they were sent to the sin bin. As good as you can do in that situation. They managed 4 clears on each PK and were solid in their positioning. They took away the one-timer from the slot effectively without giving too much room on the point or allowed a cross-ice pass. The power play was much better this game. Both units moved the puck well, kept their spacing and took lots of shots. They mustered 13 shots on goal, 3 wide shots and 10 blocked shots on the power play. That’s a lot of shooting with the man advantage. Finally! They were only able to capitalize once, but any improvement on the power play is a good sign. Also good to see only one short-handed chance given up, and it wasn’t a breakaway.

Dallas goal #2

Absolutely loved this shot of the PK. This is the kind of formation I would love to see every time. 

Ellis- Can’t really fault him for two of the three goals. A puck bouncing off of two sticks a skate is difficult for any goalie to stop. Gonchar’s giveaway to Duchene mere feet in front of Ellis is nearly impossible to stop. He was strong other than that. He made up for some pretty big defensive errors, especially late in the third. His glove save on Downie while sprawled out was pretty nice, even if it was more of a “look what I found” save.

Ellis' big sprawling save late in the third. 

The Bad:

Critical shots against/defensive lapses- The Stars took 41 shots and only allowed 26 shots on the night, but managed to loose because the Avs capitalized on their fewer chances and had higher-percentage shots. Take a look back at each Colorado goal. Gonchar misplayed a pass in the slot and gave Duchene a great look in front of Ellis for the first goal. The second goal was a fortunate bounce. Still, a missed opportunity along the boards to clear, a slow reaction to a pass through the middle of the zone and lots of open ice for a shot from the point led to the goal. Sure it bounced off of two sticks and a skate, but it never should have been a shot to begin with. Duchene single-handedly dominated the Stars on the third goal. He collected the puck as two Stars slid past him near the offensive blue line. He put his head down and blazed into the Dallas zone to rip a shot over Ellis’ left shoulder and into the net.

Colorado goal #1

Colorado goal #3

Unable to seal the deal- Daley breakaway. Eakin breakaway. Seguin alone in tight on the power play, twice. Several one-timers in the slot. Chiasson’s shot near the top of the crease at the buzzer. The Stars had a bunch of chances to catch up or take the lead in the game, but they simply couldn’t capitalize. They played well enough to win. At least well enough to squeeze a point out of the game. Their inability to close the deal cost them and they got nothing out of a rather strong 60 minutes.

A series of 3 HUGE saves by Varlamov

Daley breakaway chance was kicked out by Varlamov

Seguin's first big chance. 

Seguin's second big chance in tight. 

Faceoffs- They won the faceoff battle on the night, but there’s a need to dig deeper. If Jamie Benn’s night on the dot (won 7 of 9) is taken out as well as Peverley’s two faceoff wins on two opportunities, the Stars would have looked horrible in this category. Seguin won 6 of 17, Eakin won 7 of 18, Horcoff won 4 of 6 and Fiddler won 3 of 6. Macdermid, Cole and Chiasson each won 1 of their 2 faceoffs and Whitney won his only faceoff taken.

Lines seen tonight:
Daley-Jordie Benn

PP- Horcoff-Eakin-Peverley-Cole-Goligoski
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Daley-Jordie Benn (Dillon in box)
PK- Horcoff-Roussel-Daley-Jordie Benn (Dillon in box)
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Goligoski-Robidas (Dillon in box)
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Dillon-Robidas (Daley in box)
PK- Horcoff-Roussel-Goligoski-Jordie Benn (Daley in box)

Notable Notes:

Dallas goal #1

Colorado goal #2

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 4: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars lose to the Minnesota Wild 5-1.
Shots: Dallas 19, Minnesota 36
PP: Dallas 1/3, Minnesota 2/4
Hits: Dallas 10, Minnesota 15
Faceoffs: Dallas 30, Minnesota 28
Blocked Shots: Dallas 14, Minnesota 10

The Good:

Faceoffs, a few grinders battling through the game and not much else. The negatives heavily outweighed the positive in this one, so I’ll just post the faceoff numbers here (which were pretty decent). Considering the Stars are struggling in faceoffs so far this season, it was a pretty good night in one department for the team when they win the faceoff battle against the league’s best. Seguin won 3 of 8, Peverley won 4 of 10 but it gets better from there. Horcoff won 7 of 14, Fiddler won 7 of 11, Eakin won 7 of 12 and Benn and Cole won the single faceoffs they took.

Dallas goal #1

The Stars actually started out their first power play really well. They moved the puck through the zone well and spread out the Wild to give Benn a great one-timer in the slot that Harding stopped. 

The Bad:

Mindless defensive blunders- Couldn’t even count them, so I’ll speak to the major ones. Obviously it starts with Minnesota’s first goal of the game. Dillon misplayed a pass in his own zone that was picked off easily by Cooke. Cooke then made a short pass to Fontaine for his first career NHL goal. On the second goal, Goligoski took a peak over his shoulder and overskated the puck behind the net. Cooke was basically handed the loose puck for the quick wraparound goal. Goligoski’s interference penalty in the first five minutes of the second really hurt the Stars by killing the momentum they had to start the middle frame. Dallas came out aggressive and constantly on the attack until Goligoski took an unnecessary penalty on a routine defensive play in the corner. The Stars killed it and soon after took another penalty which the Wild capitalized on. And then there were the breakaways. Twice the Wild had breakaways on Ellis and a long distance behind the Minnesota player were two or three Stars players casually gliding back to the net. Also, they turned the puck over inside the opposing blue line way too many times. It’s tough to build an attack when you bring the puck in with speed or a pass only to lose it five feet into the zone.

Minnesota goal #1

Minnesota goal #2

Special Teams- For whatever reason, the Stars had a tough time clearing the zone on the PK. Many whiffs and several clearing attempts right into a Minnesota player kept Wild power play on the attack. Dallas managed 11 clears and Ellis made 5 saves on the PK, but they gave up two goals on four chances. One was off a pass straight through the middle of the Dallas zone and the other was Parise outbattling and getting position on two defenders at the top of the crease. The power play wasn’t much better. They managed 4 shots, one being a goal, but they also gave away a short-handed breakaway and were kicked out of the zone 9 times.

Minnesota goal #3

Minnesota goal #5

Ellis- He started slow and never really bounced back. He had a few nice saves on one-timers in the slot and breakaways, but the goals he gave up were too soft. The first Minnesota goal should have been a simple blocker save. The second was a wraparound by Cooke. Niederreiter’s goal (the fourth for the Wild of the night) was one where Ellis wasn’t strong on the short-side post. The last goal of the night was off a big rebound from the point, but really Ellis needed some better defensive help there.

Minnesota goal #4

Worst period of the season?- The best period of the young Stars’ season was the first 20 minutes of the Winnipeg game 24 hours ago. One of the worst periods of the season was the first 20 minutes against the Wild. They were outshot 21-7. They were scored on 12 seconds into the game. They were down 2-0 after the period and it was clear they weren’t in control of the game. They seemed to be chasing the puck throughout the first period, and that continued the rest of the game.

Lines seen tonight:
Daley-Jordie Benn

PP- Cole-Eakin-Nichushkin-Whitney-Goligoski
PP- Seguin-Peverley-Chiasson-Jamie Benn- Jordie Benn
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Jordie Benn-Robidas
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Daley-Jordie Benn
PK- Horcoff-Roussel-Dillon-Robidas
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Daley-Robidas (Dillon in the box)
PK- Horcoff-Roussel-Jordie Benn-Gonchar (Dillon in the box)
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Dillon-Robidas                                 
PK- Jamie Benn-Peverley-Daley-Jordie Benn

Notable Notes:

Big Hit of the night

Slick move and shot by Jamie Benn, but a good save by Harding. 

The Stars had more men back, but they gave Fontaine too much room for the first Minnesota goal. 

Wild breakaway with three gliding Stars in the background.

Horrible position on the Dallas power play. Cooke was left to a wide open, and I mean wide open, breakaway that Ellis stopped. 

A big chance for the Wild on the power play. This was the second biggest lapse in the Dallas PK. The first was... (look below)

Too much ice allowed for a pass through the middle of the zone that Dumba put in the net.

A screencap of Parise beating Jordie Benn and Daley to a rebound off a point shot to give the their fifth goal of the night. 

A Wild Unraveling. Dallas Stars Game 3: 5-1 Loss at the Minnesota Wild

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The Dallas Stars continued their inability to win the second of a back-to-back with a 5-1 loss at the Minnesota Wild Saturday night.

The Stars have struggled with back-to-backs over recent seasons, but hoped the addition of a seasoned veteran backup goalie would help. Dan Ellis made some strong saves, including two on one-timers in the slot, but he ended the night with 31 saves on 36 shots.

Dallas started the game on the wrong foot when an errant pass in the Stars’ zone from Brenden Dillon resulted in a Minnesota goal 12 seconds into the first period. The puck drifted through the center of the Dallas zone when Matt Cooke collected the puck and passed it ahead to Justin Fontaine. The rookie then scored on a backhand shot for his first career NHL goal.

Nearly halfway through the first period, another defensive error led to a Minnesota goal. Alex Goligoski overskated the puck behind the Dallas net, and Cooke scored on a wraparound.

The Stars came out better in the second period. They possessed the puck more and were more aggressive on the attack. Mathew Dumba helped Minnesota gain back some momentum with a power play goal 8:23 into the second period. It was his first career NHL goal as well.

Nino Niederreiter scored off a bank shot 10:20 into the second period, but Dallas would finally answer. On the power play, Tyler Seguin attempted a cross-ice pass that deflected off of Jamie Benn’s skates as well as a Minnesota defender. Jordie Benn was in position to wrist the puck past Wild goalie Josh Harding. The Stars ended the night 1-for-3 with the man advantage.

Zach Parise scored Minnesota’s second power play goal of the night 14:30 into the third period when he banged home a rebound off a shot from the point. The Wild ended the night 2-for-4 on the power play.

Minnesota outshot (36-19) and outhit (15-10) Dallas in their first meeting of the season. One of the few bright spots for the Stars was that they won 30 of 58 faceoffs against the league’s best in that category.

The final stop for Dallas on their current road trip is Colorado on Tuesday night. The Avalanche are 5-0-0 to start the season under new coach Patrick Roy. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 3: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.
Shots: Dallas 31, Winnipeg 44
PP: Dallas 2/5, Winnipeg 1/6
Hits: Dallas 21, Winnipeg 37
Faceoffs: Dallas 24, Winnipeg 40
Blocked Shots: Dallas 19, Winnipeg 9

The Good:

Best period of the season- Even using the simple eye test would reveal just how dominant the Stars were in the first period. This is what the Stars’ offense is expected to look like under Ruff. It had felt like forever since the Stars last played, but it was great to see they didn’t come out flat because of it. The Stars were fast, aggressive and responsible in both ends. They managed 15 shots in the first period, three of which were goals. The first period was a glimpse of what the Stars truly can be when everything is rolling right and their best players are exactly that.

The one that got it started. Chiasson's goal. 

Top line- Seguin had 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists), Benn 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) and Peverley added an assist. They totaled 9 shots and created countless chances throughout the game. They were consistent in their attacks, strong on defense and a joy to watch all game.

Benn goal

Seguin- Clearly the star of the game. First goal of the season was a beauty, a straight up knuckle puck D2 style on a bouncing, rolling puck. His assists were slick and precise. He was flying all over the ice, and I was impressed with his backchecking. What a night for the future superstar.

Seguin goal #1

Seguin goal #2

Special teams- Yes it is bad to take 6 penalties, but for this part let’s look at the fact that the Stars killed 5 of them. And they weren’t killed by luck or the skin of their teeth. They were solid. I counted 16 clears, 9 saves and several blocked shots. They even had a few short-handed opportunities, including one from Garbutt that drew a Winnipeg penalty. Their power play may not have had the best percentage to end the night, but they looked much better. The first unit looked especially improved. They moved the puck well, took lots of shots and registered both power play goals of the night for Dallas. They allowed 8 clears and two short-handed shots on their last two power plays, but before that they only let the puck leave the zone 3 times on 3 power plays. I counted 6 shots on goal, 3 wide shots, and a couple of blocked shots on the night.

Seeing this reminds of last season. Terrible to leave 3 of their players so open. Then again, the good thing is this happens a fraction of the amount of time it did last season.

This is more like it. Plays like this show such improvement over last season on the PK, if not the defense in general. They aren't allowing those high-percentage shots. They aren't allowing those easy passes through the box and the big one-timers. 

Goaltending- Lehtonen was rock solid before he left due to a lower body injury. He bailed out the team on some outrageous errors, and he made it look easy. Lehtonen didn’t play the puck too well, but that was never his strong suit anyways. Ellis came in and did exactly what he was signed to do. He was very good in net, gave the team the chance to win and held up strong. He didn’t give up many rebounds and was very good on the PK after giving up the goal to Wheeler on a rebound, which he should’ve had some defensive help on. Below are huge saves by Kari:


The Bad:

Penalties- It’s simple: they took too many. And furthermore, they took one while on the power play. The good news is that they drew almost as many as they took and twice they turned a PK into a 4-on-4 by drawing a penalty.

Winnipeg Goal #1- Too many penalties eventually leads to this. A shot from the point is stopped by Ellis, but look to Ellis' left. Wheeler is left alone behind all Dallas players. All he had to do was basically tap in the rebound and that's what he did. 

Faceoffs- Horrible. Seguin won 5 of 14, Peverley won 2 of 7 and Horcoff won 4 of 15. Eakin and Fiddler were each at 50% and Cole and Nichushkin both lost the single faceoffs they took.

Gonchar- He is really starting to frustrate me. All three games so far he is making huge errors with the puck at both ends of the zone that create tremendous opportunities for the opposition. But luckily he gets bailed out by Lehtonen and/or a backchecking forward.

Lines seen tonight:
Daley-Jordie Benn

PP- Horcoff-Eakin-Nichushkin-Whitney-Goligoski
PK- Horcoff-Roussel-Daley-Jordie Benn
PK- Fiddler-Peverley-Daley-Jordie Benn
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Dillon-Robidas          
PK- Horcoff-Garbutt-Gonchar-Goligoski
PK- Fiddler-Garbutt-Jordie Benn-Daley

Notable Notes:

Kari took a puck to the noggin and looked a little out of a it for a second. Many people thought this was the cause of his injury, but it turned out to be a lower body injury instead. 

This is what Ruff wants to see from his players. Anyone touches or messes with Kari, and they get the horns. 

A large scrum that ensued after Tangradi took a little hack at Kari. Another showcase of the team defending their goalie.

Tyler awarded the cowboy hat after the game. 

Super Star Takeoff. Dallas Stars Game 3: 4-1 Win over the Winnipeg Jets

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The Dallas Stars kicked off their first road trip of the season with a 4-1 win at the Winnipeg Jets Friday night.

The Stars rode their dominant first period, the best period of the young season, to victory. Tyler Seguin led the way with a goal and two assists in the opening frame en route to his four-point night. Alex Chiasson and Jamie Benn scored Dallas’ other two goals in the first period.

Chiasson opened the scoring on the power play 9:32 into the game. Seguin flew into the Winnipeg zone along the right wing boards before quickly stopping to create some room for himself on the ice. He backhanded a pass through two defenders to Chiasson, who then tucked in a backhand shot between Ondrej Pavelec’s legs. It was the Stars’ first power play goal of the season.

Seguin scored his first goal in a Stars uniform when he blasted a bouncing pass from 12:09 into the period. Benn’s added his first of the season with less than five minutes to go in the period. Seguin set up a one-timer for Brenden Dillon along the blue line, and Benn out-battled Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net for the rebound goal.

Kari Lehtonen stopped all 21 shots he faced, but left the game with 5:15 remaining in the second period with a lower body injury. Dan Ellis was solid in relief to close out the victory. Ellis stopped 22 of 23 shots, conceding the lone goal on a Winnipeg power play early in the third period.

The Dallas Stars continue their three-game road trip with their first back-to-back of the season. They visit the Minnesota Wild Saturday night with Ellis set to start in net.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Green with Victory. Dallas Stars Game 2: 2-1 Win Over the Washington Capitals

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The Dallas Stars earned their first victory of the season Saturday night with a 2-1 win against the visiting Washington Capitals.

The high-flying Capitals had scored 10 goals in two games before running into Kari Lehtonen and the Stars. Lehtonen made 25 saves on 26 shots including two at the buzzer to seal the victory.

The Stars played a stronger game in all three zones in comparison to Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers. They blocked more shots, had fewer giveaways and ended with 26 hits again. They killed two of their three penalties, but failed to capitalize on either of their man advantage opportunities.

Alexander Ovechkin opened the scoring 4:26 into the first period with a power play goal from his usual spot in the left circle. Erik Cole answered 8:01 into period on a behind-the-back feed from Seguin behind the net.

Alex Chiasson scored the game-winner 12:07 into the second period on the rebound off a give-and-go with Cody Eakin. A Chiasson hit in the Dallas zone knocked the puck loose and led to a 3-on-2 break. Ray Whitney occupied both Washington defenders by crashing the net, leaving Eakin and Chiasson to set up the play. Eakin entered the zone with the puck and passed it Chiasson, who passed it back for a one-timer. The rebound bounced out in front of the net and Chiasson buried the puck from one knee.

The Stars do not play again until they visit the Winnipeg Jets on October 11.

Dallas Stars Game 2: The Good and the Bad

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Dallas Stars defeat the Washington Capitals 2-1.
Shots: Dallas 21, Washington 26
PP: Dallas 0/2, Washington 1/3
Hits: Dallas 26, Washington 28
Faceoffs: Dallas 25, Washington 27
Blocked Shots: Dallas 14, Washington 10

The Good:

Penalty kill- The PK was strong after giving up the first goal to Ovechkin and the Capitals. They simply gave Ovechkin too much room to shoot and watched passes. On the second penalty kill, the Stars did a great job of winning puck battles and clearing the zone efficiently. I counted 3 clears, a save by Kari and one shot allowed. The final kill was thrown off when Peverley fouled up an easy clear leading to two shots on goal nearly tying the game at the buzzer. Other than the failed clear, they blocked a shot, clear the puck once and Fiddler single-handedly killed 11 seconds by winning battles along the boards against three Caps in their own zone.

This is from the first PK, seconds before Ovechkin scored. You can see how much room he was left with at the top. The middle was taken away, but if the puck could somehow make it to Ovechkin...

Washington goal #1- Green collects the puck near the blue line and passes it to a wide open Ovechkin parked in his usual power play position in the right circle for the goal. 

The PK looks the same as the first photo, but this is better in that the focus is on Ovechkin. Also more emphasis was put on stopping passes across the middle. Two passes across the middle were actually stopped or deflected on this PK. 

Chiasson- He finds a way. It’s as simple as that. He just finds a way to get the puck in the net. Chiasson is more than just a player with a nose for the net, though. His puck support in his own zone and throwing a hit along the boards led to a turnover which prompted the 3-on-2 that he eventually scored on. Several times Chiasson was seen hustling back to his zone, using his body to protect the puck in the neutral zone, or entering the offensive zone with speed.

Chiasson is in the bottom left corner of the picture. He is the one on the right. Here, Chiasson's puck support on the backcheck led to a turnover. He skated into the zone and put a body on his man which knocked the puck loose.

A 3-on-1 ensued with Whitney crashing the front of the net occupying both Washington defenders. Chiasson and Eakin were left open to set up the play. 

Dallas goal #2- Eakin entered the zone, passed the puck back to Chiasson and then fired the puck on net when Chiasson returned it to him. The rebound bounced out front, and Chiasson's nose for the net puts him in position to net the game-winner. 

Chiasson's celly.

Backchecking forwards- This is big result of the new emphasis on defensemen pinching more this season. It’s a love/hate relationship. A couple of pinches led to offensive opportunities, including the Cole goal in the first period and another great chance for Cole in the third. On the other hand, it also led to a few breakaways or odd-man rushes the other way. Cole eliminated what could’ve been a 2-on-0 and an earlier backcheck turned a 3-on-1 to a stifled 3-on-3.

My favorite defensive play of the game. Daley stretched out on the ice to block a pass through the slot on a 2-on-1 break. 

Cole came back in the zone and helped turned a potential 3-on-1 into a 3-on-3.

The best backcheck of the night. This could have easily been a 2-man breakaway, but Cole's backcheck resulted in a rushed shot that hit the post and went out of play. 

Cole- Everything mentioned about him the above paragraph plus his solid goal in the first period.

Dallas goal #1- Robidas makes an aggressive pinch along the right wing boards to keep the puck in the zone. Benn gets the puck behind the net to Seguin who makes a quick-look behind-the-back pass to a wide open Cole in the slot.

The Bad:

Power play- They weren’t as bad as Thursday night against the Panthers, but there needs to more from the man advantage. I counted 7 clears, 3 blocked shots, a shot off the post, a shot wide of the net and a short-handed chance for the Caps on the two power play opportunities from the Stars.

Leaving the point open- As Razor pointed out, the Stars did not do very well against shots from the point. They did much better than last season at taking away the middle of the ice and keeping most of the shots and players to the outside, but shots from the point can be just as dangerous if left completely wide open. I noticed four players below the faceoff dots several times in the game leaving the points wide open.

Just an example of the Stars taking away the middle, but leaving the point wide open.

Lines seen tonight:
Daley-Jordie Benn

PP- Benn-Cole-Chiasson-Seguin-Gonchar
PP- Horcoff-Eakin-Nichushkin-Whitney-Goligoski
PP- Whitney-Peverley-Eakin-Daley-Goligoski
PK- Fiddler-Horcoff-Jordie Benn-Daley (Robidas in the box)
PK- Eakin-Chiasson-Jordie Benn- Daley (Horcoff in the box)
PK- Peverley-Roussel-Robidas-Dillon (Horcoff in the box)        
PK- Peverley-Fiddler-Daley-Robidas (Seguin in the box)

Notable Notes:

Washington scored on this play but it was disallowed because it was deemed Backstrom interfered with Lehtonen.

Hit of the night: Ovechkin destroyed Robidas in the first period.

Stars hit of the night: Dillon with a big hit off a suicide pass in the neutral zone during the third period.

Whitney had a few open chances on the night and this one was set up by Chiasson behind the net.

A big shot by Ovechkin that hit off the post and off Lehtonen's leg. You can see the puck between Lehtonen's legs, but Dillon was in position to get the puck out safely.

This was one of several Caps shots off the post. Lehtonen didn't see it until after it hit the iron.

Another one of Whitney's great (missed) chances. He stole a d-to-d pass, but slapped the puck right into Holtby's chest. 

Peverley had two wide open tip-in chances but missed both.

Peverley bounced this chance off the far post during the Stars' second power play.

Part of the mayhem at the buzzer. A shot/pass deflected off Daley's stick and forced Lehtonen to make a big shoulder stop. 

Lehtonen then had to make two stops on the rebound as time expired to seal the victory. 

A funny call by the ref. He was mid-conversation with Horcoff when he made this call.