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Archive for the ‘Loui Eriksson’ Category

Dallas @ New Jersey (Season Opener), 10/08/10

Now I don’t know what to think. I was all braced for sloppy play and poor goaltending and just general mediocrity and I was okay with it.

Then the Stars went out and played a pretty good game and beat the Devils in overtime. The big guys scored, and the defense made some good defensive plays and the goaltender made some impressive saves.

The game started out more like I expected, with the Stars going down by two goals in the first period. I missed the first half of the first period as I struggled home from Ft. Worth. Both Devils goals were scored while I was listening on the radio.

Once I got home, though, things looked much better. Morrow opened the season’s scoring with the first Stars goal from Mike Ribeiro, both of them looking kind of like the old days when theirs was the best line.

Just like in the old days, Loui Ericsson scored twice, the second one the game winner in overtime. Brad Richards scored the other one to tie it at 3.

Mark Fistric may have fallen and let Kovalchuk and Parise get by him, but he made up for it with an assist on Morrow’s goal.

The defense looked pretty good after they settled down halfway through the first period. There were lots of frantic defensive moves near the net that kept the score within reach. And there were plenty of takeaways in the neutral zone and poke checks at their own blue line to keep the Devils out of their zone.

Stéphane Robidas made a huge block on Jamie Langenbrunner to keep the score tied late in the game.

As Razor said, it was kind of an 18-wheeler of a game. It took a while for it to get up to speed, but it ended up being a pretty exciting, end-to-end, speedy game.

Loui’s shot over Marty Brodeur’s near shoulder just a couple of minutes into overtime was a really pretty one. He seems to be ready to lead the team in scoring, yet again.

Kari Lehtonen looked a little less than impressive early, but really had a good game overall. Kind of like the whole team.

I’m not sure what to think about this game. It’s just the first one–surely they’re not going to play like that all season. But it appears they can play like that, so it’s possible, I guess, that they could be better than mediocre.

If they turn out to be terrible after all, please don’t remind me of my silly optimism on Day 1.

Interesting fact I just read in the AP story: It was the first time Dallas started the season without a member of the 1999 Stanley Cup winning team on the active roster.

Sigh.

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Dallas 4, Washington 2 (SO)

No, it’s not a turning point. Don’t even start with that stuff.

It was fun, though. It was an extremely impressive game by Marty Turco. While I was watching it, I kept thinking how great he seemed to be playing, yet we were down by two goals. Then at the end of the second period the broadcasters pointed out that the Capitals already had fired 42 shots at him.

That’s an unusually high number of shots for a whole game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many after two periods.

But when the third period rolled around, the Stars were still in it. They poured on the pressure and tied it up, with power play goals by Brad Richards and Trevor Daley and then James Neal scored to take the lead.

Unfortunately, Ovechkin scored to tie it up again.

Unbelievably, (or as Pierre McGuire says, unbleebly) the Stars managed to hold it together through the overtime and score a couple of shootout goals to beat the Caps. That was a very fancy zip-around from Loui Eriksson to score the shootout winner.

It was a fun and exciting game and it showed that the Stars can play and that Turco can tend goal. They allowed a ton of shots but they didn’t give up, probably because their goaltender was actually helping them instead of hindering them.

This game is not a turning point, though. There have been too many games this season where the Stars beat a team they’re not supposed to and everybody says, “See? They can still do it! We just have to keep it going!”

The problem is that they can’t keep it going. They have yet to show that they can keep anything going. There are only 17 games left in the season and they have yet to win three in a row. I can probably count on one hand the number of times they’ve won two in a row. They’re not going to leapfrog all the teams near them in the standings to get into the 8th spot.

Still, it was a great game. I enjoyed it. I hope to enjoy the next game they play. But that’s as far ahead as I’m going to plan.

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Boy, that was an exciting Olympics gold medal game, wasn’t it? Congratulations to Brenden Morrow for what must have been the dream of a lifetime. I’m sure he won’t be lording it over his teammates when he gets back to town. Even so, Mike Modano should be ready to smack him if need be.

And congratulations to Team USA for a thrilling run through the tournament, all the way to the marquee game on Sunday afternoon. I think I almost broke my voice screaming when Zach Parise tied up the game with 24 seconds left. I wasn’t so happy about Sidney Crosby scoring in OT to win the game, but if it had to be some Canadian, I’m happy it was Sid. He looked pretty happy about the whole thing while they waited for the medals to be awarded.

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I’ve been collecting notes and opinions and rants for the last week or so, but I just haven’t had time to post any of them. Every new one kind of negates the previous one, even though I still want to rant about the previous one.

I was all in a tizzy about Crawford and his insistence on cramming square pegs into round holes without even attempting to shape the pegs a little first. And I kind of freaked out about how he decided to put Jamie Benn at center even though he’s never played the position and even though Mike Modano could use some more minutes.

I also was highly comforted by Mike Heika’s explanation of why Nik Hagman was allowed to leave in free agency and I wanted to remind you all that I miss Nik Hagman. In case you forgot.

And DO NOT get me started on Marty Turco. Believe me. I had pages and pages of rants about that. Let’s just say that I’m glad Alex Auld is getting a few games. I’ll come back to Turco later, maybe.

So, while I was seething all week about the Stars troubles, they went and pulled out a couple of wins. So I’m much calmer.

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I think I’m starting to get a bead on what the Stars really are. They’re, um, not very good.

It’s strange that Morrow and Turco and Richards and Ribeiro and Modano and Eriksson and all the rest are suddenly not very good. Last season was bad because of all the injuries, but I’m convinced that a lot of the Stars’ problems this season come back to coaching.

There have been too many games where Crawford claims they did everything right but just couldn’t win. That smacks of a bad plan.

Installing a system that the team isn’t built for is a recipe for failure. If they’re planning to adjust the personnel once they’re allowed to spend money, that’s fine. But in the meantime, maybe they could play a kind of hockey they’re good at. Just to tide themselves over.

Lately, the few wins we’ve had have hinged on some spectacularly bad luck for the opposition. The wins against the Ducks had comical goals — the kind that the Ducks could legitimately laugh off as fluky. That’s how we win now.

If we have to rely on flukes in our favor, that’s not good.

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Let’s see what we’re looking at here.

The defense isn’t half bad. Oooh! The young defense is going to be overmatched! Ooh! We need a free agent d-man everybody’s heard of! That was the cry during the off-season, and it continues now. But we can’t afford a free agent defenseman in his prime and we don’t need one that’s past his prime. I think the defense is already showing that they are learning the system and are the type that can work it.

Fistric is basically a stay-at-home defenseman that can skate like an offensive defenseman. Same with Grossman. Grossman is leading the NHL in plus-minus right now. Fistric played left wing for two games. Trevor Daley can overtake anybody that might take the puck from him. Niskanen can zig-zag through the opposition just like a forward, and is improving his defensive game. Robidas is still the leader he’s been for a couple of years and is basically in his prime. And Skrastins is actually helping out quite a bit. I like a professional shot-blocker like him. He makes some good plays and blocks a lot of shots.

I might be a little Pollyanna about the defense, but I think it’s doing pretty well. Certainly better than the skeptics predicted.

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Mike Heika talked to Marc Crawford after Tuesday’s game about the “spotty” play of the Stars.

“We are going to correct the things we can and go back and reinforce the system’s strong points of play, but we are also going to demonstrate some patience as well. It’s going to take a constant reinforcement to get it.”

I think this is a good plan, this demonstrating some patience, but I don’t know if we’ll really see that when the games start counting.

The Dallas Stars got such a terrible start last season that they’re determined this one will be good. But if they’re still trying to learn the system and trust their own creativity and end up losing some extra games, I wonder if the coaching staff will bail on the whole patience thing and just play the half of the team that is already getting it.

I don’t think it will behoove guys like Fabian Brunnstrom to lose playing time because he might make a mistake. Or if he isn’t scoring like crazy in the first few games.

The same goes for the young defensemen like Niskanen and Fistric. Really all of the defensemen are going to need some patience.

Of course, I can’t see any of this new system yet, or how well anybody is playing it. I’m just going by what Mike Heika says, essentially. It just sounds, from the quotes I’ve been reading, that it’s pretty different from what our veterans are used to.

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