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Archive for the ‘Dallas Stars’ Category

Alex Goligoski

Even though the season has already started, I’m going to run down all our new guys as I continue to update my categories. I don’t think anybody’s really surprised that I didn’t get this done in the summer, right?

Anyway. Let’s start with…

Alex Goligoski: (I’m even later on him than everybody else, aren’t I?) Joe Nieuwendyk traded little Matty Niskanen and James Neal to the Penguins for Goligoski.

Even at the time, I could understand why Niskanen and Neal had to go. You can’t get somebody like Goligoski without trading the likes of those two. I liked both of those kids, but I also really, really like Goligoski.

He had a head start on the other new guys because he came over midway through last season, and this season he’ll be able to start at the beginning, knowing what goes on and what the team is like. He’s an offensive defenseman and he appears to be very good at it. I tend to lament the lack of credit that defensive defensemen get, because they’re my favorite kind, and therefore I underrate the offensive types sometimes.

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Linchpin.

I never would have guessed it, but it seems the key to the Dallas Stars’ success these days is Adam Burish. Sure, it’s nice to have Brad Richards back, and Jamie Benn has been out of this world, but when Burish is in, they win, and when he’s out, they lose.

Burish was injured on February 3rd against Boston and was out for eight games. In those eight games, the Stars went 1-6-1.

He came back on February 24th against Detroit for eight games and in those the Stars went 6-0-2.

Now that he’s out again, in the two games since he was hurt, the Stars are 0-2-0.

There is something that he brings that I can’t pin down from my remote perch, but it’s definitely something. And the Stars miss it when it’s gone.

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Jamie Benn

Earlier, I wrote a huge post that started out talking about how much fun hockey seems to be again and why.

Then it devolved into a rambling screed about what killjoys certain bloggers and tweeters can be. I sounded just like them.

So I chucked that one and I’m going to stick to my main point, which is that I am enjoying hockey. I’m learning to avoid stuff online that makes me mad, instead of trying to argue it down.

My friend, Katebits, over at The Willfull Caboose had a great post about that topic so I’ll let you read that instead.

I think the main reason I’m enjoying hockey again is that there is a race on. For the last couple of years, missing the playoffs was something we knew way before the end of the season. And this year I assumed it would happen again.

Then, the dumb ol’ Stars did some winning, laid on the charm, and just generally drew me back in. The Western Conference is so tight right now that every game counts, and it has for a while. One night you’re in, the next you’re out. Sometimes while you just sit there.

I’m happy they didn’t trade Brad Richards. I’m entertained by his and Krys Barch’s trash talking on Twitter (as long as you keep it light, boys).

And while I’m worried about poor Brad’s symptoms, I’m happy that the Stars are trundling along without him. I hope he comes back soon, but I think they’re handling it well.

Don’t even get me started on Jamie Benn. He seems totally oblivious to his own greatness. I know he’s only 21, and you can’t say what will happen over a decade or two, but man. That guy has it all. I wonder if we’ll ever hear commentators marvel over how whoever drafted him in the 5th round is a genius. Since we’re not Detroit, probably not.

Now that he’s back, and Adam Burish is back, the Stars seem to have that fun aura that kind of faded during their losing streak. The rest of the season is going to be something to watch.

For a change.

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Yes. I’m superstitious. All of Dallas Stars fandom (as measured by the people I personally follow on Twitter) are superstitious. Daryl “Razor” Reaugh should be, too.

This isn’t just anecdotal any more, though. Kari Lehtonen has had too many “Ryan Miller Shutouts” (as my Buffalo Sabres fan friends call it), and it’s because every time it gets down to 5 minutes left in a game where the opposition hasn’t scored, Razor will not leave it alone.

Sometimes he just flat out says the word, “shutout.” Blatantly. And then as he’s discussing how dumb ol’ superstitious people hate it when he does that, Kari lets one in. Every time.

Other times, like last night, he calls it a “clean sheet.” I was on Twitter and, at about the 5-minute mark, many of us expressed our fear by tweeting things like, “DON’T SAY IT RAZOR!” and, “Don’t JINX US RAZOR!”

Then he started talking about how Kari can’t seem to keep a clean sheet these days.

We all said, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” And then the Coyotes scored.

There is no way that goal wasn’t caused by Razor’s blatant disregard for established rules in hockey broadcasting.

In the post-game show when it was pointed out that it was his fault, he asked, innocently, “What am I supposed to call it?!”

How about you don’t mention it at all, Razor? We can all see what’s happening. You don’t have to point it out!

We are happy to wait five more minutes for your scintillating analysis of Kari’s shutout stats. The end of the game, when he actually has a shutout, is perfectly fine! WHY CAN’T YOU WAIT UNTIL THEN?!?

This is why Kari doesn’t have one yet. He knows, just as we all do, that Razor mentions it at exactly the same point in every game.

If not for the knight on a white horse that rode in to save the day (Jamie Benn, with 4 seconds left), Razor might have had to go into seclusion until the whole thing blew over. I’m telling you, Twitter was PISSED.

Razor, next time, just TRY to not mention it for FIVE MORE MINUTES, okay? You can time yourself. It’s not going to hurt your career! You’ll still win Emmys and be the toast of the hockey broadcasting world.

And maybe Kari can get a shutout, for Pete’s sake.

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Saturday, I did something I’ve always wanted to do. I sat on Row A at a Dallas Stars hockey game. Right on the glass.

I had been planning it for a while and when I asked Thomas the ticket guy to find me one, he outdid himself. Once I got my ticket, I was thinking it would be in the right-hand corner of section 124. But no. It was dead behind the net.

This is the view.
View from my seat

This is the view with my zoom lens.
View from my seat, plus zoom

The giant video board looks even more giant when you’re at ice level. On the glass. Like I was.
Video board

This is the lamp. I was basically sitting in the goal judge’s old seat.
The Lamp

I’m telling you I was way down there.
View behind me

As Bill Ollerman says, “Here they come! YOUR! DALLAS! STAAAAAARRRS!”
Big entrance

I’m a big fan of the skatearound. (more…)

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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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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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