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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.

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.

Dance of Joy!

I’m so happy that Brad Richards wasn’t traded today. I still, probably naively, have hope that he re-signs with the Stars. Trading him would have taken away what little chance we had.

This team can do something if they stick to it and when Richards comes back from his injury, I think they’ll be able to start pulling ahead. The last two games have been so encouraging. I would have hated to see Joe Nieuwendyk bail on the season.

If he had traded Brad just to trade him, it would have been a mistake. The possibility of losing him for nothing isn’t any more gloomy than losing him for somebody else’s mediocre prospects.

Nobody that needed Brad as a final piece would have been willing to give up their best young players, and that’s what Nieuwy was reportedly demanding. Good for him!

Everybody whined that Nieuwendyk was asking way too much and he’d never be able to trade him at those prices. I always thought he was thinking, “Exactly.” The point was that he didn’t want to trade him!

It’s like, my house is not for sale, but if somebody asked me what my price is, I might say, “500 grand.” They’d say, “You’re crazy! Nobody would buy that crappy house for that!” And I’d say, “I know.” BUT, if they said okay, I’d be outta here so fast, I wouldn’t even pack.

So now we can relax a little and start concentrating on the playoff stretch in earnest. Now that it’s getting closer, and they seem to have come out of their funk, and I watched a game RIGHT ON THE GLASS, I’m really getting excited about the Stars.

I’m all in now.

On the glass.

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. Continue Reading »

After being indirectly insulted all day Monday by all the Dallas Stars bloggers/tweeters who tend to accuse anybody that disagrees with them of being an idiot, or worse, somebody that doesn’t know anything about hockey, I think I’ve settled on an opinion about the latest trade.

Joe Nieuwendyk traded James Neal and Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligowski.

First, I’ll say that I hate trades. I never like to see people traded. I almost always get over it, though. I still wish Philippe Boucher were still around, but most other trades I’ve learned to live with.

After the initial shock that Nieuwy would trade a young forward with the kind of potential that Neal has, I can see that he’s probably the one that would have to be traded. He’s good and teams want him, but he’s in a category (forwards) where the Stars have a surplus.

Neal has high potential, but I think it’s apparent that it might take a little while for him to work out his inconsistency kinks and reach that potential. I still expect him to be a star in the league, but he’s young and he has some work to do.

As everybody says, over and over, ad nauseum, the shortage on the Stars is in puck-moving defensemen. So they traded from a surplus to fill a shortage and that’s really all you can do.

Continue Reading »

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

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.

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.