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Archive for April, 2008

Dallas 5, San Jose 2

I really just don’t know what to think. I really don’t.

Even when the Sharks got the first goal, I still thought, okay, now the Stars can relax and play. And then they did! They tied it, then the Sharks got ahead, then in the third they tied it again and scored three more.

And they weren’t garbage goals. Mike Ribeiro’s goal in the first period that tied the game was amazing. He was behind the goal and banked it off the goalie and in.

Then just as the third period starts, Brad Richards was handed the puck by a Shark who fell down and he made a sneaky-quick shot to tie the game the second time. Brad Richards got four points in the third period!

Nik Hagman followed Richards to the goal in the third period and was right there for Richards’ fancy reverse pass to poke it into the net for an insurance goal. Nik also got an empty netter later. I’m so happy to see Nik get some offense, because he’s working so hard all the time.

But the best goal of all came with the game tied, from our long-lost Sergei Zubov. Fresh off the IR, in his first game back since January, after showing a little rust in the first period, he made a move that will be on highlight reels for months to come. Modano tried to pass the puck toward the net, but it went off two Sharks and right to Zubie, who spun gracefully, and whipped it, backhand, to Modano, who snapped it over a confused Nabokov and into the net. Unbelieveable. UNBELIEVABLE!

I’m telling you, I don’t believe it!

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Dallas 3, San Jose 2, OT

It might be a little hard to tell how the rest of the series is going to go, based on Game 1 against the Sharks. Both teams kind of waded into it, it seemed to me. I imagine the pace will be ratcheted up in the next game.

The Stars played a pretty good game, I thought, but it wasn’t as frenetic as the games had been in Round 1. The Sharks seemed the same way, but I don’t know very well how they usually play. They got a lot more shots on Marty Turco than the Stars did on Evgeni Nabokov.

In fact, the Stars just had two shots in the first period, total. They allowed ten shots, but Marty stood his ground and kept them in the game.

The Stars often seem a little tentative at the beginning of important games, then when the opposition scores a goal, they relax and start attacking. The same thing happened in this game — the Sharks got the first goal in the second period. Then soon after, the Stars tied it and took the lead. It’s like when you buy a new car and you fret constantly about it being scratched. Then when you get your first door ding, you can relax and enjoy it.

The Sharks tied it up late in the third period to take it to overtime. I was worried about OT. We haven’t had that much success with it in the playoffs lately. But it only took about five minutes (almost all of which were spent in the Sharks’ zone) before Robidas made a great play by keeping the puck and taking it around the net, then as he was falling, pushed it out to Norstrom who sent it to Morrow for the one-timer that went right past Nabokov.

OT goals in the playoffs for the good guys are the best kind!

With the OT win, the Stars checked off another one on their Playoffs To Do list.
Goaltending? Check.
Scoring? Check.
Overtimes? Check.

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It’s been a very long time since the Dallas Stars have gotten through to the second round. Back when it was more common, I wasn’t nearly as attentive, so I don’t really remember what it’s like. So far, I love it.

Winning Round 1 against the Ducks was extra sweet for more reasons than one. The Defending Stanley Cup Champs, the odds-on favorite, the bullies of the neighborhood, the greatest blueline ever assembled in the history of hockey…it all made for a really satisfying victory.

Now it’s on to the San Jose Sharks. Another Pacific Division rival that we’ve already played eight times this season. We should know them pretty well, even though the last game of the season kind of took both teams by surprise.

I doubt the Sharks are going to let Steve Ott get to them that much. But I bet he gets to them a little bit. I have confidence that the Stars can match up with the Sharks pretty well. The party line is that the Sharks are just too big and too deep up front. Well, we’re very skilled and deep up front. So there. The Ducks are big all around and we didn’t have too much trouble with them. The Sharks are probably a little bit more motivated than the Ducks were, but their playoff monkey usually jumps on their backs in the second round. They’re pretty motivated to make it past this round. I hope that makes them a little jittery.

Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page has a great preview of the series and some stats analysis to get you up to speed.

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Announcing ModFan!

Try it, you'll like it!This blogging thing is really working out for me.

I managed to trick Schnookie, Pookie, Heather B., and Katebits, the geniuses behind Interchangeable Parts, Top Shelf, and The Willful Caboose, into letting me ride their coattails to world blogging domination.

Try it out and see what you think!

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Back in the ’01-’02 season, when the third center added to the two we already had was Pierre Turgeon, I remember that the fact that we had three “top-line” centers was considered by many to be a big problem. After all, there’s only one puck. How would they ever figure out who gets it? (Doug Armstrong’s answer was to trade one of the good ones [Nieuwendyk] for another one [Arnott].)

But now, having three star players as the top three centers has been working really well so far. As Mark, over at Andrew’s Stars Page, points out, the scoring is almost even.

Mike Ribeiro’s line has a combined 7 goals, Brad Richards’ line has 5 goals, and Mike Modano’s line has 6 goals.

What that means is, the opposing team can’t just shut down one line. If we only had one line scoring, all the other team would have to do is make sure their best defensive players jump on the ice whenever they see Morrow, Ribeiro, and Lehtinen climb over the boards.

But if they shut down Ribs’ line, they’re too busy to shut down Brad Richards’ line. And if they split up their defensive forwards to cover two lines, who will cover Modano’s line? And if that team only has one really good defensive line, then splitting them up doesn’t make two lines, it makes two half-lines.

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I found 44 “experts.” 38 picked the Ducks. 6 picked the Stars.

Dallas Morning News
Carlton — Ducks in 7
Cowlishaw — Ducks in 5
Durrett — Stars in 7
Heika — Ducks in 6
Sherrington — Ducks in 6
Taylor — Ducks in 6

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Meyers — Stars in 7

TSN.ca
Duthie — Ducks
Maggie (the Monkey) — Ducks
McKenzie — Ducks
Milbury — Ducks
Pang — Ducks

Yahoo Sports
Victor Chi — Ducks in 6

Yahoo Sports
Jim Fox — Ducks in 5

ESPN
Amber — Stars in 7
Buccigross — Ducks in 7
Burnside — Stars in 7
Cohn — Ducks in 6
Hradek — Ducks in 7
Melrose — Ducks in 6

NBC
McGuire — Ducks in 6
Milbury — Ducks in 6

NHL.com
LeBrun — Ducks in 7

SI.com
Eliot — Ducks in 4
Farber — Ducks in 6
Kelly — Ducks in 7
Kennedy — Ducks in 6
Muir — Ducks in 5

NYT Slapshot
Caldwell — Ducks
Hackel — Ducks
Klein — Ducks
Pargas — Ducks
Sandals — Stars
Serviss — Ducks
Zinser — Ducks

SpectorsHockey
Spector — Ducks in 5

The Hockey News
Brophy — Ducks in 5
Campbell — Ducks in 5
Costello — Ducks in 6
Dixon — Ducks in 6
Fraser — Stars in 7
Kay — Ducks in 6
Kennedy — Ducks in 7
Proteau — Ducks in 7

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Dallas 4, Anaheim 1

THEY DID IT! They did it they did it they did it they did it they did it!

What a great game! The Stars played a beautiful game. They forced turnovers, they swarmed the Ducks defensively, they got tons of chances.

Stéphane Robidas outdid himself. Again.  He got the first goal, by squeezing past a Duck defender (I think it was Niedermayer) and just winging it on goal.  Then less than a minute later, he came down the same side and made a sweet pass over to Stu Barnes who put it right into the gaping net.

And after what seems like twenty breakaways he’s been in on, Loui Eriksson finally puts one past Giguere to salt it away.  The Ducks pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with two minutes left.  Usually, in less dire circumstances, coaches wait until about a minute and a half.  But they had to get two.  Then Pronger shows what kind of player he is and cross-checks Brenden Morrow at center ice and is sent straight to the penalty box, where, fittingly, he sat when the game ended.

To add to the poetry, Mike Modano had the honor of the empty-netter with three seconds left. 

The bench went wild.  The crowd went wild.  I went wild!

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