Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.
After taking some time to reflect on the game last night, I'm not as upset as I thought I would be about the Stars' effort against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sure, it's frustrating to have the Stars come out flat in the first period yet again, and limp through another uninspired effort in front of the home crowd. We find it hard to deal with as fans because we've seen how good this Stars team can be when they put their mind to it, and watching the Stars just sort of drift through the first 25 minutes of the game makes fans crazy.
In the end however, Marty Turco kept the Stars in the game just long enough to allow the Stars to wake and play what would turn out to be an inspired and energetic third period and overtime. Dallas generated numerous scoring chances and were squandered by an exceptionally large and nimble goaltender and plain old bad luck. The Stars peppered Jonas Gustavsson in the final 34 minutes of play, and walked away with an improbable win.
Credit must go to the Toronto Maple Leafs as well, who certainly did not play like a team with just one win on the season. They were confident, fast and explosive and were riding the momentum of a big 6-3 win over Anaheim just a few nights prior. This was a game that past Stars teams might have choked away, but they worked hard and came away with their first winning streak since March.
In then end, the Stars got two big points against an Eastern Conference team so that extra point hardly matters to Dallas in the end. The win puts the Stars one point behind San Jose and Los Angeles in the Pacific and sets them up perfectly for the weekend as they take on Florida and Nashville in back to back home games.
A couple of quick notes before we get Stargazing:
- Don't forget, Brent Severyn will be joining us tonight on Defending Big D LIVE. We go on air at 8pm Central.
- Next week, SB Nation will be undergoing a bit of an aesthetic facelift. It won't be a complete overhaul, but there will be a noticeable difference in the look of our websites here.
Today in Stargazing: We have a lengthy report for you today as players react to the slow start from last night, Marc Crawford hits a milestone, and Mike Ribeiro becomes yet another Stars player that everyone loves to hate.
Despite not being named one of the stars of the game by Bob Sturm last night, James Neal had one heck of a game. He had to step up and provide energy from a team that was perhaps missing Steve Ott a bit too much, along with Brenden Morrow (who looked a bit off last night):
"He’s probably one of those guys who didn’t have his best stuff tonight," Crawford said. "Yet that’s the veteran quality of a Brenden Morrow; he recognized the team doesn’t have much, and he went out and played with a physical edge. He had a couple of huge hits. I think that allowed our guys to take notice. And that’s a lot of what Steve Ott brings.
"There were [other] people that tried, but they just couldn’t get there. Some of the guys on the fourth line [which was Brian Sutherby, call-up Francis Wathier and Krys Barch]. Some of the guys on the third line [which was Tom Wandell centering for Toby Petersen and Fabian Brunnstrom]. They had trouble getting there tonight."
Not Neal. The 22-year-old sophomore played a season-high 21:38 and now has goals in the last three games (to take the team lead with seven), points in the last four. Crawford said of him: "You get a little payback when you block a shot, when you battle for loose pucks, when you get in on the forecheck."
What also speaks volumes is the fact Crawford kept throwing out his most effective players in the third period when his team needed a comeback. The Wathier-Sutherby-Barch line took a seat (after trying to create energy early) and the Ribeiro and Richards lines were rolled out. Ribeiro came through with an amazing redirection goal to tie the game, and then Richards and James Neal finished things off with the OT winner.
Inbetween, Marty Turco came up with some big saves when he had to have them and Stephane Robidas played 26:15, had four shots on goal, four hits and four blocked shots. He added an assist on the game-winning goal..
So did we learn anything from their lessons? I think we learned that this team is far from perfect, like most teams in the NHL. I think we learned that this team is better than it was a couple of weeks ago, when it couldn't raise its game in OT situations.
And that is a positive sign.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a win. Give them credit for not playing particularly well, but finding a way get two points. Over the course of a season a good team, a playoff team is going to have to do that now and then.
On Jonas Gustavsson, I thought he was OK. He made some good saves, but he gave up some big rebounds too. He had that playing the puck gaffe that led to a penalty, but that’s just instinct taking over and not being quite used to that strange NHL rule. He’s had the heart issue and the groin injury, which has limited his playing time, so he’s still on a big time learning curve. He’ll continue to improve with time.
Bottom line it wasn’t pretty, but it was two points for the Stars. They’ve got 16 of 24 possible points so far this season. Those are important points in the bank, doesn’t matter whether they are pretty points or ugly points. Plus, they finally won consecutive games and they won one that went beyond regulation.
- With his two points, Neal set a new career-high by extending his scoring streak to four games, during which he’s registered seven points (four goals, three assists). He also made a diving shot block at the final buzzer in regulation to help send the contest into overtime.
- With his two goals, Richards now has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last three outings. Despite missing two games due to injury, he leads the club in scoring with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists). He also led the squad with five shots on goal.
Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen both went through a full practice in Frisco and looked pretty good. Coach Marc Crawford said a decision will be made on them tomorrow, and listed them as questionable. Crawford said he doesn’t expect either Modano or Lehtinen to be ready to play both games of the back-to-back set this Friday and Saturday.
Brad Richards (groin), James Neal (groin) and Brenden Morrow (hip flexor) did not practice today so they could rest their injuries, but Crawford said they were all expected to play tomorrow.
Dallas Stars Head Coach Marc Crawford will reach 1,000 NHL games as an NHL head coach this Friday, October 30, when the Stars host the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center. Crawford will become just the 15th coach in NHL history to serve behind the bench for 1,000 games.
"It is an honor and a privilege to be a head coach in the National Hockey League," said Crawford. "Reaching 1,000 games as a head coach is something I am very proud of. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of the five great cities that I have coached in and I have a lot of good memories. I’d like to thank the general managers that I have worked for, that gave me the opportunity to work in this league – Cliff Fletcher in Toronto, Pierre Lacriox in Quebec & Colorado, Brian Burke & Dave Nonis in Vancouver, Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles, and Joe Nieuwendyk in Dallas.
"I’d also like to thank all of the people who have been a big part of everything over the years – the equipment guys, the trainers, the hockey staff, the assistant coaches – these are the people who do a lion’s share of the work behind the scenes. Without their dedication and commitment, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And of course I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Helene and my family for their love and support over the years."
FOX Sports Southwest will televise a 30-minute special chronicling the Hall of Fame career of former Dallas Star Brett Hull on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 PM CT as part of the network's SPOTLIGHT original programming series. The show premieres prior to Hull's Nov. 9 induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame and will be replayed several times throughout the season.
SPOTLIGHT: BRETT HULL HALL OF FAME will feature highlights from the two-time Stanly Cup Champion's 19-year NHL career and interviews with Hull and former Stars players and coaches, including Ken Hitchcock, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Craig Ludwig.
Quotes from last night:
"I think it showed they can be resilient. I think it also shows you can stay with the game. Not every game is going to be a masterpiece. Even though they didn't have their best stuff, they had enough to find a push. I think that speaks volumes to the group."
"You get through the first period where you haven't played well, it's the first game back after a long road trip, and it's been a bit of a layoff. Those are periods where you want to make sure you get through, and we did."
"We talked in the room after that there are lessons to be learned from games like this. It shows me that even though they didn't have their best stuff, they had enough to find a push. I think that speaks volumes to the group."
(On James Neal) "It’s a huge goal for him. We had talked all game long of the play of young Gustavsson, the goaltender. He does challenge, but there are rebounds that spray out, especially if you stay off to the side. It took us all that time to get one, and James was the benefactor of having a good habit and being in the right spot. You go to the right spot, good things happen."
"It was a great performance from Marty, he held us in it."
"I think our feet were stuck in quicksand a little bit. You know how it is when, overall, your team is not moving their feet and things snowball. Marty [Turco] did a good job in their. I think this game had a little bit of everything and we eventually had to show a little bit of composure and stay with it right to the end. We found a way."
"It shows the character of this team to come back. They score with six minutes left, kind of takes the energy out of our sails, but we managed to come back on a big goal by Ribs and we won it in OT, so it’s a big win for our team."
"I was right there for the rebound and put it in. It crossed the line pretty slow but I'll take it."
Finally, it appears that Steve Ott is not the only member of the Stars that everyone hates:
Finally, so that I remember in the future, I want to once again formally express my disgust with Mike Ribeiro. I don't know if it's the fact that his name ends in a vowel or because his father taught him that 'gamesmanship' was acceptable in one sport so it can carry over to the good ol' Canadian game but his fake high stick schtick was sad to watch. It's bad enough when guys like Sidney Crosby, Bryan McCabe, Sean Avery, Derek Roy, and on and on dive but Ribeiro wasn't even touched. The league's crackdown on offences since the lockout has led to an increase in guys diving or clamping down on a player's stick to get a hooking call. Unfortunately, the speed of the game is too much for referees to be able to pick out every embellishment but they should be doing a better job when faced with known fakers. Not to mention that there should be a mechanism to punish these plays retroactively. Soccer still hasn't found a way to deal with it and it's the single-most frustrating thing to deal with. Basketball continues to encourage it and the games are increasingly unwatchable. Hockey's still facing a nascent problem but there will be an increase in the prevalence of these kinds of plays as power plays remain so important to creating offence.
We had a fun little back and forth last night on Twitter about Mike Ribeiro, which resulted in what I believe is a genius retort by Stanley Cup of Chowder.
@DefendingBigD Yeah, you should probably just change the name of your site to Defending Big D-Bags