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Archive for January, 2011

Stars 1, Canucks 7

That game was not good.

The Canucks worked the dive to their advantage and the Stars refused to dive, to their disadvantage. But that’s not why they got their heads handed to them.

A save would have helped. Even just a couple of penalty kills would have helped. Maybe a power play goal would have helped.

I was letting the previous game against the Flames kind of roll off my back since I didn’t have to watch it with my own eyes. And since they’ve been on such a run of wins, I couldn’t just dive into negativity after one loss, no matter how humiliating. But two in a row makes it hard to keep a brave face.

I’m going to try, though.

It’s not the end of the world yet. Two horrible games in a row could be a chance for the Stars to remember that it’s not going to be easy. They aren’t great yet. They’ve been pretty good, but they are going to have to work really hard to keep it up for the rest of the way.

The goalies, both Lehtonen and Raycroft, have been propping up the rest of the team for a little while. It’s probably going to be helpful that they get a good look at what the skaters need to work on.

Of course, that’s presuming that both goalies snap out of it right away. Even if other issues are improved, we’ll still need the great goaltending we’ve been having up until now.

And nothing had better be wrong with Jamie Benn. Forget all that other stuff. Nothing had better be wrong with Jamie Benn.

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Photograph by Trey Hill

The Stars had a great feature going this weekend, where they had Trey Hill taking behind-the-scenes shots of their Western Canadian Road Swing.

Trey Hill has a great style and I commend the Stars for hiring a photographer with style to do some unusual shoots. (I still love the twitpics from @DallasStars, too, don’t get me wrong.) We all have access to the Getty Images action shots from all the games, but it’s not every day that you get the kind of artful, unusual shots that Trey brings us.

I hope he doesn’t mind my using his water bottle picture for this post. It’s my favorite one from Day 1, although the shot of Brad Richards climbing the stair-car stairs with a Nerf sword slung across his back is a close second.

If you’re all into Twitter, like I am, you should follow @squarerootof9. He’s a good.

DallasStars.com has progressed by leaps and bounds this season with their content. They also had a very nice article about a kid that got to go on a road trip with the team. It was very touching.

And check out their “Raw” channel for pre- and post-game media scrums. I’m usually pretty easily distracted during those videos, trying to see what’s going on behind the player that’s being interviewed.

While I’m linking to stuff, don’t forget to read everything that Mike Heika writes.

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In Monday night’s game against the Kings, the thing I noticed the most was that the Stars had the puck most of the time.

It wasn’t easy, though, they had to fight for it, and catch it at the blue line, and pass it between forests of skates to keep possession of it. They spent an entire power play in the offensive zone at one point. I thought they might have to clear it themselves so they could get a change.

I probably should have been, but when the Kings scored first, I wasn’t nervous. I thought they were playing so well and spending so much time in the attacking zone that it was just a matter of squeaking a couple through.

I also wasn’t afraid that Kari would melt down or be otherwise fazed by giving up the first goal after all the work the skaters had done at the other end. He is really doing a bang-up job.

There’s still a long way to go before anybody gets any crowns, but it’s getting very exciting. I commend Joe Nieuwendyk for what he’s done so far. I know I was skeptical of his plan, but he seems to know what he’s doing after all. It appears that letting Modano and Turco go was really one of the biggest keys in this surprising (so far) season.

I am still a big fan of Marty Turco as a Star and a person, but it seems the two biggest pluses to this season hinged on letting him go. He’s (a) no longer running or splitting the room, letting Morrow get hold of it and giving the young guys some space to step up, and (b) no longer in the net. It’s pretty apparent that his window closed a couple of years ago and it doesn’t look like it’s going to open back up again this late in his career.

If Kari Lehtonen is playing like he will be playing until he’s 30, this could be really good for a while.

I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s hard not to. Not only is the net covered, but basically all four lines are covered. Guys like James Neal and Mike Ribeiro suffered through some slumps and came out of them. Now everybody seems to be scoring. Even in a game like this one against the Kings, where the score was only 2-1, it still felt like everybody scored.

And hmm, the defense seems to be doing fine. I’m stunned. (Not really. I thought they would be fine. It’s the “experts” who predicted they’d be the Keystone Kops all season.)

I’m not willing to trade anybody good for a disgruntled defenseman, and I don’t want one that doesn’t cost somebody good. I sure don’t want to pick up somebody like Souray off the scrap-heap. I’m willing to take this exact team all the way to the end.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, Woo hoo! The Stars are actually good!

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Jamie Langenbrunner, circa 2001. Courtesy of me.

Jamie Langenbrunner is back. Who saw that coming?

I admit I’m not the voracious reader of hockey news that I once was, but I did not see that coming.

When it first looked like Langer would be coming back to Dallas, I was not that happy about it. I probably spend way too much time on IPB and maybe I was swayed by Pookie and Schnookie and Mags and all the other Devils fans over there who have been hoping against hope that he’s in the first bucketful when the Devils start bailing.

He’s not had a good maybe year and a half over there. He’s not the only one, though. He’s apparently known for a while that something was going to happen and he was not reacting well to the spectre of reduced ice time and lower standing on the team.

But once the deal went through, I started hearing that Joe Nieuwendyk’s plan was for him to be on the third line and that he wasn’t going to push Benn out of his plum spot so I started feeling a little better.

Pookie and Schnookie assured me that he is bound to benefit from a breath of fresh air and that since he wasn’t captain here, he can accept other roles.

It reminded me of an article/chat by the great Mike Heika where he pointed out that Turco can accept a backup role in Chicago but he can’t here in Dallas. The same is probably true of Mike Modano. It’s too painful to watch him bringing up the rear here after so many great years. But in Detroit, he’s just a veteran piece to the puzzle. (And, of course, I don’t have to watch him since I can’t watch the Wings.)

When Jamie was traded to New Jersey with Nieuwendyk, I seriously questioned my devotion to the Dallas Stars. It was early in my fandom and I was crushed. Crushed! As it turns out, I do love the team more than any individual players. But I missed Jamie for a long time. I loved the guy.

That was nine years ago. A lot has changed since then. I don’t have the wide-eyed, he-won-the-Cup-here-so-he-will-surely-bring-us-another-one excitement that everybody else does. But I have warmed to the idea quite a bit.

He does bring some playoff experience (although his recent experience wasn’t that great), and he is right-handed. And they only gave up a second-round draft pick, at worst. I just want to make sure that it doesn’t mean any of our future loved ones, such and Benn and Wandell are thwarted in their development.

I’m anxious to see what it’s like to watch Jamie Langenbrunner play for the Stars again. I think it’ll be weird. I hope everybody’s right and he’s the last piece of the puzzle for a big push in the playoffs. (Even though we didn’t know we’d need one when the season started.)

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