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Archive for the ‘Post-Game’ Category

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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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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I’m trying not be so incredulous all the time.

The Stars won again. (!?!?!?!) (Sorry.)

This time it was on a sneaky shot from the high slot in overtime from the adorable Stéphane Robidas. In the post-game show when he came by to talk to Severin and that other guy (that kept calling it the NFL), Robi said it was sort of a set play. Brad Richards came into the zone and went straight for the net and just about all the Wild players followed him. That left Robi out there at the top to fire in the winner.

Karlis Skrastins got the opening goal and Steve Ott added one in the 2nd period. Then they kind of lollygagged long enough to let the Wild tie it.

Let me just say, Steve Ott and Trevor Daley have really been stepping up their games lately. Otter has everybody pissed at him and still scores. And for the opposition, there is just no telling where Trevor Daley is going to be. He is all over the place. The guy that’s covering him surely has trouble predicting where he’s going to go, and he can skate so fast that he seems to just magically pop up somewhere else.

Adam Burish got them back in the lead in the third, but it didn’t last. With just a few minutes left in the game, the Wild tied the game to send it to overtime.

I’m still very leery of overtime, a feeling I admit is left over from last season. This season they’ve been actually winning a lot of those, so I probably shouldn’t just assume the game is lost if they have to go into OT. I should enjoy OT like I used to, when there was a chance we could win it. Because an OT win is a thrilling one, no matter what time of year it is.

I’m not going to predict how long this streak will last, because I’ll blame myself when it ends. But it sure is fun while it’s lasting.

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For me, that doesn’t mean I’m leaning toward optimism so much as it means I might have put the foot back down that was extended over the ledge.

The four-game winning streak the Stars are on now is kind of weird. It’s hard to believe. Not that it’s not possible, it’s just weird.

The game against the Carolina Hurricanes was fairly definitive. I haven’t been following the Hurricanes that closely, but I think it was a legitimate win. The Stars played well. They didn’t back into the win at all.

The game was very entertaining. Lots of back and forth, lots of almosts, lots of bouncing pucks and cool defensive plays. Ribeiro and Daley were all over the ice. I thought Ribs had a pretty good game.

Right before Neal scored in the first, the ‘Canes tried many times to clear the puck and the Stars kept keeping it in. Woywitka caught the puck at the point as it ran around the glass to keep it in. Neal scored soon after that. Not only were the Stars keeping the puck in the ‘Canes’ zone, they also kept the ‘Canes out of their own zone.

They were responsible and aggressive. The forwards helped the defense and the defense played well. And Kari did a fine job of not messing any of it up. Usually he is covering for people but this time he didn’t have to too much.

(more…)

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