Injured Jackets Challenge Stars

•October 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If I were Robin the Boy Wonder , I would have certainly said ,”Holy puck pursuit , Batman !” after watching the game last night . I did not expect a severely injured Blue Jackets team to attack us with such a fury as they did . I don’t know that Our Stars expected that out of them to such a degree either .

 We were out played for the majority of this game . The Blue Jackets out-worked us by a long shot . I was surprised that this game did not go into overtime . 

 We had some obvious breakdowns . In fact , we had enough on certain lines that Gulutzan benched a few players during the game (an entire line to be precise) in order for him to get them to go back to the work ethic that he wanted .

 Everyone knew coming into this game that the winless , injured Blue Jackets needed this game . We all heard on Ralph and Razor’s broadcast that the Jackets were punished (during their practices) for their lack of performance in their last game against Our Stars . They sincerely and deeply wanted to win . They needed to win . It showed .

 From the beginning of this game the Jackets came  attacking in full force  . Every Jackets player wanted to win this game . Nobody was a passenger . Our Stars have obviously bought into Gulutzan’s style of hockey because if they had not , they would certainly been overcome to the onslaught that the Jackets brought . There were times that every Stars fan out there was worried (I won’t lie , I was too) but we came through .

In the first period we did a pretty good job of keeping all of the shots to the outside despite the fact that we defended a little too much for my taste . I was also a little disappointed that simple stick defending was causing us so much trouble  that doing a “one and done” in Columbus’ zone was all we could muster . 

 Again , we could not manage to get the referees on our side . They called a few questionable (at best) calls against us . One of those calls cost us a goal . Souray answered one of his costly phantom penalties with a goal that was sent home by Ryder . 

  The most astounding play of this entire game , and it will be replayed for years to come , was Jamie Benn’s goal . Already the internet is exploding with the video . He deked past four (4 !) defenders and the goaltender and still manged to plant it in the back of the net .  This goal will certainly be one that they replay when young Benn retires in twenty years . 

 My three STARS ;
 1. Kari Lehtonen : If you saw this game , then you know he deserved this . 
 2. Jamie Benn : Undressing five guys and scoring a goal in front of millions of fans earns this spot for him hands down .
 3. Steve Ott , Loui Eriksson and Sheldon Souray : Ott , Eriksson and Benn dominated every time they got on the ice . They were the number one line , not Ribs , Morrow and Ryder . Souray earned his way here for being a threat the entire game and his intelligence in his own zone . While other defencemen were simply throwing the puck away when under pressure , he made wise choices . 

Honorable mentions :
 Adam Burish played an excellent game as well . His intermission interview with Razor alone earned him huge bonus points in my book .


Changing Seasons

•October 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

  Mike Modano retired . Brad Richards left for the Rangers . Marc Crawford is gone . Tom Hicks is almost gone . We acquired Adam Pardy , Jake Dowell , Radek Dvorak , Vernon Fiddler , Eric Nystrom , Michael Ryder and Sheldon Souray . We also promoted Glen Gulutzan from the Texas Stars to Our Dallas Stars .

  At first glance , all that change appears to be overwhelming . We lost a very good puck disributor . A few of our new players were labeled as “problems” by many fans almost immediately . We have a new coach and new system that our players will have to adjust to .  There have been many changes made and almost all of them have been for the better .

  How are all these changes positive you may ask ? Allow me to show you what I see .  

  Modano retired . I am glad he retired . Yeah , I said it . And I mean it .  For years , he has been skating in games with his stick off the ice . When a player is ready for the puck , his/her stick is on the ice , not hanging parallel to the ice in limp arms . I have not seen the Mike Modano of old consistently since the ’06-’07 season – if then . I miss that Mike Modano and would love to see him back  . (Please don’t send me “You hate Mike mail” because I don’t . I just don’t think he has done his best work in years – for the record , neither did the Wings . They benched/scratched him for many of the games he was available for .)

  Brad Richards left for the Rangers . While his play-making abilities will be missed , he cost us , what , $9 million a season ? With the money that he was being paid now freed up , we were able to acquire more help across the board .

 Marc Crawford is gone . While I liked the man , he could not motivate the team the way a coach needs to be able to . The prime example of this was when we lost the last game of last season . If we had won , we would have made the playoffs . Instead of being able to motivate our players , we had a very long summer .

 Tom Hicks is almost gone . This is self-explanatory on why it is a positive . Currently , Our Stars management has spent enough money so that we are now at the salary cap basement floor . Our new owner can only go up and so will our team .

  Acquiring Pardy , Dowell , Dvorak , Fiddler , Nystrom , Ryder and Souray added depth that we were severely lacking before . The defense has been shored up a little (although , I do not agree with Karlis Skrastins being released for more reasons than one). Our new forwards play the style of hockey that we play already , so it is not a surprise to any of them and seems to be a relatively easy transition for them so far .

 We promoted Glen Gulutzan from the Texas Stars to the NHL . He has done a very good job in Austin with whomever he had on the roster at any given time . Our Stars would call him up and tell him ,”Hey , we’re taking your best player ,” and he would still be able to win games . This skill would be exceptionally helpful if we encounter as many injuries as we suffered mid-season last year . He has brought a different style of play to Our Dallas Stars and it works . The players respect and like him and they are motivated by him . That is exactly what we need from a head coach . 

  I honestly believe we will have a great season . No , we are not the team that we once were , but sometimes change is good .


•October 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I have decided to return to blogging after over a year-long hiatus . Expect to see more soon . I promise .

Loss To Tampa Then Pacified Panthers

•October 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 The loss to the Bolts was not that much of a shock , even almost expected . I am certain we could all see the defensive issues that we , as a team , were suffering from in the past few games . We all played fairly well , but we were run over by a faster team who checked far more often than we managed to check . We have already struggled from those issues in the past few games as well .

 There were times that it looked as though many of our players had lost confidence in themselves and their abilities . Our defense was not at the top of their game as a group . We definitely needed them to play much better than they did . This has been a running problem since last season . They have been doing decent , but we need better than decent . We need consistent .

 On a side note on this game , there were more than a few suspect calls made against Our Stars . It appeared that there was more than a few holding the stick calls that could have been made and I know (from the great camera shot) that Stamkos closed his hand on the puck . But , like I said , this loss was almost expected . 

MY STARS of the game :
 1. Kari Lehtonen – This game would have been a one-sided blow-out if not for this man .
 2. Toby Petersen – Giving us our first short-handed goal of the season and constant hard work got him here .
 3 . Stephane Robidas – The best of all of the defensemen on the ice . Others should follow his example every game . 

 On to the Panthers’ game .

 This was a fast paced game that looked deceptively like an excellent first two periods followed by a more difficult third period .

 This game was difficult to watch . We did play fairly well but the Panthers played the first two periods like they had not been on the ice in a week . In the third period though , they came out looking a little better but , all we did was dig our heels in and ride the lead .

 Razor said we needed “not an easy game but a less difficult game” . We needed to get our confidence back with a win like this over a team who is as light on talent as they are on fans . The problem with that is that they did not take it for what it should have been . A rout . Instead , what we got was a performance that reminded me of most of our games last season : play hard for a while and then give up . Here’s why ;

 In the first and second periods we did all of the following ; blocked shots from the point , made great timed plays , kept the Panthers out of our zone for any real attacks and even had many sustained lengthy attacks in their zone . In the third period , however , almost all of that stopped . Instead , we tried digging our heels in and playing “prevent defense” . 

 Do not misunderstand , I am very happy that we won but there are plenty of reasons to be sitting in the video room re-watching this game . I truly hope that we can solve these issues before we get much further into the season .

 MY STARS of the game ;
1. Kari Lehtionen – Wow , him being first star yet again (and not being surprised about it) sort of reminds me of when we had Marty …….
2. Jamie Benn – After having a few games off for a concussion and earning three points in your first game back is pretty impressive .
 3 . Tom Wandell – I am pleased to be able to put his name up here . He played very well . I especially liked his swoop around the goal no-look shot that snuck past everyone while their mouths hanging open .

 Honorable Mentions ;
 Adam Burish – for the fight and excellent play
 James Neal – excellent playing and the goal 
Steve Ott – excellent play (that and he threatened to hurt me if I did not mention how well he played)

Eeking Out Another Win

•October 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 We started this game by being run over by the Blues (do not forget that the (B) is silent) . As the game went on , we continued to be run over and mauled . The only parts of this game that we actually won were the shootout and the goalie battle .

 In the first period , we were scored on early . Twice . Not one of our line seemed to be able to get anything together . We were being beaten to loose pucks , losing puck battles , outnumbered everywhere on the ice and just playing poorly overall . It seemed we had all lost hope until Eriksson , Richards and Neal combined to score our first goal of the game . After that goal , we looked like an entirely different team for the remainder of the period – all two minutes of it . Before that goal , everybody but Lehtonen looked done .

 In the second period , the Blues were still running the show . It was almost a carbon copy of the first period save for the fact that Lehtonen was better (because he had to be) . Eriksson scored in this period with Neal and Richards’ help .

The third period was all Blues again . The few times that we did manage attacks , it was done by the same three listed above . Morrow , Ribeiro and Burish had one or two chances as well . Petersen was excellent on the multiple penalty kills .

 The overtime period was , seemingly , better hockey because of the open space . 
  Ty Conklin could  not manage to stop a single shot .  Richards , Eriksson and Ribeiro all beat him . Lehtonen stopped Oshie but Boyes scored . When Ribs scored off his shot , it did not matter if the last Blues player scored or not and we were declared the winners .

The negative parts of this game were that there were  too many of our players afraid of the hitting that the Blues were doing . Occasionally we hit back , but the Blues were so much faster that we almost did not have a chance to hit them . We let their players in deep in our zone time after time without making them earn it . They ran through our defense like we were not even there . They swarmed the puck and outnumbered us way too often – even in our own zone . 

 The positive side of this is that we won . Lehtonen kept us in the game even when we were being steamrolled . We also scored on every shot we took in the shootout .

 Overall , I am not pleased with the game but I am happy that we won the game . We can certainly do better than we did in the regular part of the game (and should have) but winning the skills contest because all of our shooters scored is an excellent thing .

 MY STARS of the game ;
 1. Kari Lehtonen : There can be no doubt about this . He hung them in long enough to steal a win from a team that played better overall .
 2. Brad Richards , Loui Eriksson and James Neal : Easily the best line on the ice . As long as they can keep themselves a healthy (+) instead of a nasty (-) this season we should do well . Richards is very aware of his +/- rating from last season on home and away games .
3. Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow : These two were the only other guys who managed to get anything else going despite scoring no goals in regulation .

 Honourable Mentions also go to Adam Burish , Toby Petersen , Stephane Robidas and Steve Ott .

 In The (Penalty) Box :
 Ty Conklin and T.J.Oshie share this humiliation . Oshie for cutting Grossman’s face with his skate (even if it was a complete accident) and Conklin for making that larcenous save on Ribs when he would have had an open net .

Three In A Row !

•October 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 We all know that we won in New Jersey and then we won in New York against the Isles . I have to say that in both of these wins , I had some concerns . Winning in the shootout and in overtime are wins , but not by much . Honestly , I was concerned that we were barely winning games .

 That all changed when we beat Detroit on opening night .

 We may have been out-shot but walking away with a four to one victory is what mattered to me . We did a few things that I think need to be pointed out so you can really understand why I am less concerned than I was before this game .

 First and foremost , TEAM PLAY . Everybody worked as a team . This is a huge deal . It really looked like the guys have worked hard on this to read each other and make wise plays . When Lehtonen was in trouble , only once was he unable to keep the puck out of the net . The rest of the time somebody was there for support . 

 The second thing is determination . Granted , we were never behind in the game but we never gave up on the game when momentum seemed to slow up on us . There were many times last season (and the season before) when things looked bad and we just gave up and skated standing . Unfortunately , I think this may have a lot to do with the fact that there are fewer “older” players in our lineup (that and most everybody seems to be fighting for their jobs given that Brunnstrom cleared waivers today) .

 The third thing is Lehtonen has been very good . Much like a political race , some sing his praises and others do nothing but sling mud . It is still very early in the season , so honestly it is still too early to say “he’s the greatest” but he is on his way to doing very well . 

 The fourth point is that when the Wings surged , we still stood tall and frustrated them . They threw everything they had at us , but they still only managed one goal . That is very important .

 Lastly (for me) is that we have attacked our opponents confidently . We have not gone into their zone like lambs . We have gone in like lions , with a purpose and a plan .

 I am very pleased that we have won three games in a row . This is a feat that we have gone two consecutive seasons without achieving . I have much more hope for this season than I did before it started . I truly hope that we can continue teamwork at this level and continue to bring home wins .

 On a personal note , I want to thank Amy , Tara , Andy , Jay , Bunny and all the rest of the Stars Fanatics for making a great game even better . A Stars game without the Fanatics would not be anywhere near as fun even if Our Stars had won ten to nothing . Thank you Fanatics . Oh, and the Red Wings STILL suck !

I Will Return

•October 9, 2010 • 3 Comments

Due to a death in my family , I will not be blogging until after the funeral on Tuesday . Wednesday I will most likely post at least one blog about the game last night and the game tonight . Thank you for bearing with me .