Opening Night At The AAC 2008

 I know I am about a week late writing this blog but opening night was my nine year anniversary of being married and thirteenth of being together with my wife . I would have forgotten (I am sure) except that she told me her gift to me this year was tickets to opening night (she is a wonderful wife – I do not deserve her – just ask her) . Since that night , I have been exceptionally busy but I will not bore you with the excuses . Anyway , at long last , my opening night blog follows .

 The game itself started out decent enough . Modano , Avery and Neal had the first real scoring chance . The Columbus Blue Jackets attacked back but discovered that Turco was back to his old ways with his puck handling . Ribs , Grossman and Morrow combined for a hard shot that nearly made it past Leclaire but banged hard off the pipe . Our Stars received the first powerplay of the night but looked awkward on it and never really got set up . Chimera and Avery both went to the box for extra-curricular roughing . Mo had the best chance on goal during the four on four play . When that ended , Our Stars lost the fore-checking battle and the Jackets struck first . The Jackets were encouraged by the goal and attacked back immediately . Barch took exception to Boll’s shoving and they had a nice long bout in which I have to say Barch gave better than he got . Boll earned the extra minor though . Ha Ha ! That powerplay started off well with Cap’n Morrow’s nice shot that was unfortunately denied yet again . Avery was hooked and hit hard at the offensive blueline but the hook went uncalled and the powerplay ended uneventfully along with the period . Turco played well this period despite having the game’s only goal scored against him . He handled the puck well and bailed out the defensemen more than once with his abilities . I thought that even with the hitting that was done , there was not enough of it being done to the Jackets players to slow them down . They seemed to get free too often and rush Marty whenever they so chose . 
 
 to start out the second period , The Cap’n went almost straight to the box for hooking . Lundqvist and Robi did not seem to mind and nearly scored a shorty . Our Stars promptly killed off the powerplay . A short time later Ott was highsticked and The Cap’n was interfered with , but at least the highsticking was called . Eriksson had a decent chance on the powerplay , but was hooked from behind and that gave Our Stars a five on three powerplay . With good puck movement and control , The Cap’n tied things up at one . Our Stars stayed on the powerplay and another five on three was awarded after Tyutin got nailed with a tripping call . After a very nasty scramble in front of Leclaire , the five on three ended with what looked like at first a lying down Jacket throwing the puck away from the net . Upon further review though , it was clear that Leclaire saved the gaol with the chin of his mask . Leclaire robbed The Cap’n and Richards hit the post a very short time later . By now , it seemed clear that Leclaire was shaken a little by Our Stars onslaught . Robi got the puck in the Jackets’ zone and spied an open James Neal and he scored his first career goal . Our Stars continued the attacks and Mo and Daley came devilishly close to connecting twice , but it was not meant to be . It was apparent that Our Stars had the Jackets on their heels and , in order to slow things down , Novotny lays on Mo’s back after a faceoff much to all of the fans disapproval at the AAC (and Our Stars players and coaches as well , I am sure) . Shortly after , Boucher gets called for a bogus interference penalty but Our Stars killed that off . Almost as soon as the penalty expired , Lundqvist went to the box for a hooking penalty that lasted into the third period .Our Stars looked better in the second period and had the Jackets on their heels for most of the period .
 
 The third period started off with a good shorthanded attack by Richards and Eriksson , but Eriksson fanned on the shot . At least the Jackets powerplay ended without them celebrating and that was the important part . Robi and Ott had an obvious communication problem and they collided and the Jacket capitalize on this and even the score up at two each . The ugly goals continued for the Jackets and they bounce one past Marty off Daley’s skate . Our Stars get another powerplay chance after Boucher was boarded by Boll . Our Stars had plenty of time in the Jackets’ zone , but no shots really tested Leclaire . Backman followed his teamate to the box for hooking after the previous penalty had expired . Our Stars managed alot of pressure deep in the zone but could not get the puck in past Leclaire . The Jackets and Our Stars take turns attacking , but Our Stars’ attacks were much more intense . Richards earned his first goal of the season when Robi pin-balled his shot off of him and into the net . Our Stars still did not give up and attacked right back and Daley gets his second goal of the night , this time by smashing the puck just over Leclaire’s shoulder from the blueline . Our Stars gave Leclaire even more problems on a rush on the net and Marty is forced to make a great save on Nash with less than a minute left .
 
 When overtime started , I though it would be over quickly , but Grossman panicked , did not shoot and eriksson was in too far to have a good shot left to take . After the initial two minutes of overtime had passed , Our Stars started to look gassed (and they should have been after playing that long) . Robi , Neal and Mo combined for what I incorrectly believed would have been the ending of a good game . I nstead , Nash comes back in with less than twenty one seconds remaining and beat Turco to end it all .

 This game obviously did not have the outcome of what any Stars fan wants , but we all have to remember that Tipp just got his roster in some kind of order . I know it will be a slow start . I do hope that we can win again and soon . Some people have already started to talk about the post season , but you have to have enough win in the regular season to get there first . Let us all remember that this is not the end of the world and even two or three games in is NOT the time to panic . Now if it were months down the road and we are still win-less , then things would be different . I think that Our Stars just have to find their groove , just like racing car drivers do .
 The things that Our Stars need improvement on is their net presence and their special teams . The powerplay was not very effective and nobody but The Cap’n (and once in a while Neal) would go to the net .

 Before the game Craig Ludwig introduced Shane Churla , Andy Moog and Neal Broten and talked about the past fifteen years of hockey in North Texas . It was good to see them again even if it was for a very short time . I did however enjoy the short Q & A with Broten that Jeff K did with him during a stoppage of play . 
 When I arrived at the AAC early (so my wife and I could take in all the sites and sounds of the home opener) I was annoyed by the amount of people there for the Texas – Oklahoma football game . One guy was handing out foam fingers and asked me who I liked Texas or OU . I responded (wearing my Lehtinen signed jersey) ,”I hate football . I came for the HOCKEY !” He looked at me as though I was purple with pink polka dots and walked away with his mouth gaping open . 

 One last thing , Lehtinen and Zubov did not play (obviously) but were present at the game . After each period , you know Zubov was in that locker room cursing everybody in every language he speaks . And , as my friends Jen and Caitlin pointed out , the Russian language just sounds angry and mean no matter what you say – especially when it is coming from an angry veteran defenseman .

 My three STARS of the game ;
 Stephane Robidas
 The Cap’n
 James Neal

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~ by Adam on October 13, 2008.

2 Responses to “Opening Night At The AAC 2008”

  1. Hey Adam! Hate that we missed you opening night! We could see you talking to Jen and Caitlin because we were sitting directly across the rink from them. We were celebrating our 17th anniversary (Sunday, the 12th)! Next year we’ll have to plan a double celebration/opening night/anniversary!

    I completely agree with your accessment that The things that Our Stars need improvement on is their net presence and their special teams. I kept screaming “Somebody go to the net!” all night. And special teams are a big mess. I hope they can get something to mesh soon!

  2. I am sorry that my wife and I missed you guys , too . It seems I never get to spend enough time with other hockey loving people .

    I think the next season’s anniversary celebration is probably a good idea – but I DO have to clear it with the boss first .

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