Please note: This article was written in tandem by Brad G and Brandon Worley.
Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and NHL news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.
If I were to tell you that the Stars were paying more attention to their defensive game last night, you would probably say "they allowed 42 shots!" and think I was crazy, but that's just what they did. They made none of the mistakes they did against Phoenix on Sunday and gave Marty Turco a pretty good chance at nearly everything he saw. A lot of those shots last night were of the "46 ft wrist shot" variety. Minnesota registered their 42nd shot (according to the AAC scoreboard) with just under 7 minutes to play. The Stars kept the scoreboard reading '42' for the remainder of the game (yes, including the Minnesota goal...somehow).
For a brief time last night, the Stars were only one point out of a playoff spot. If the supposedly best team in the Western Conference could have taken care of the Red Wings in their own building, it would have been a real feather in the Stars cap to see the standings that way in the morning. Alas, nothing in life is easy. Dallas has won 6 of their last 9 games and will need to continue that pace to move up in the race.
For the umpteenth time this year, the internet has judged a Stars game to be unsavory becuase of the actions of a Dallas player. Never mind that Mike Modano has 8 point in his last 8 games, that Marty Turco made 40 saves or that they beat the Wild in Dallas for the 12th straight time. No, for some reason we have to talk about Steve Ott. There is an issue supposedly developing in the league with fights that follow clean hits. Clutterbuck's hit was indeed clean, but it was a hit on one of the highest paid players in the league, and Steve considers it his job to address that situation. Ott got an extra two minutes, the Wild got their power play, and they failed to convert on it.
Should Ott have been awarded the instigator penalty? Maybe so. That's up to the league and yet the venom out there is seemingly directed at Steve.
One last note on the Benn goal: Jamie, dude, shoot the puck more. We love it.
After the jump: Reaction to Steve Ott....being Steve Ott. Quotes and opinions on the game from around the net...
It's one thing to see a guy pulled into a fight because he threw a borderline or dirty hit. We expect that to happen, and it's part of the game's longstanding code.
However, there are an increasing number of examples where this happens after a clean hit. Another one of those was Tuesday night in Dallas.
The problem of fights after clean hits has been around for a while, but it's starting to get increased attention. In March of last year, NHL.com published an article talking about -- in part -- the growing support for an increase in instigator penalties.
We haven't seen that. Instead, we get plays like the one Tuesday in Dallas. Watch the video.
Here's the video:
Here's the thing. Art and I talk about this all the time, and it's something we brought up last week when Eric Nystrom challenged Mark Fistric, but for some reason NHL players take exception to big hits and want to fight over them. I don't like it, never had. Big hits are just part of the game.
But this wasn't just your normal big hit, on any player. This was a big, backbreaking, open ice hit on the most important player on the Dallas Stars. Brad Richards was laid out flat and slammed his head on the ice from the hit; thankfully he was ok but you've seen plenty of concussion come from the exact same hit. And Ott came in to protect his teammate.
But watching Steve Ott stick up for Brad Richards on Tuesday, you got to see another side of the argument. Cal Clutterbuck is a good, clean player who made a good, clean hit, and that should be rewarded. But Steve Ott was right there when the hit occured, and he did exactly what the Stars needed him to do.
He fought Clutterbuck immediately, and it was very clear that it brought the arena together and the Stars together. Bottom line, you can not get away with hitting Brad Richards like that. It just cannot be acceptable anyplace, and certainly not at American Airlines Center. As trite as it is to fall back on the ``not in our house'' cliche, there is a huge aspect of that statement that is true in sports.
``I was actually watching some stuff from the 60s and 70s today and they used to have bench-clearing brawls, so I don't think it's something that we should take out of our game. It was a situation where I'm right there and you just can't hit Brad Richards like that. That can't happen without some kind of response, so I responded.''
``I definitely think we need that element, but it can't just be certain players, it has to be everybody. Every player has to bring that toughness in some form or another, and I think we are starting to do that.''
The bottom line is this: Steve Ott did last night what we have been calling for all season long: for this team to show some backbone and stick up for themselves. We've seen this trend start to gain some momentum lately, and this is far from the Stars team that allowed Marty Turco to be clobbered in his crease, or Steve Ott to be ganged up on. Jamie Benn has become more physical, and we've even seen Richards himself get in on the act.
This is what the team needs. Do I want a big fight after every big hit? No. But this was more than just a big hit.
The Wild also can't figure out a way to neutralize Steve Ott. Two meetings ago, he concusses Petr Sykora with a hit that most people (minus Colie Campbell) felt was dirty. Last game, he runs around, sits on top of Harding, hits Derek Boogaard hard and then laughs at the Wild bench. Tonight, with Boogaard injured and John Scott scratched (Richards considered dressing him but chose to play James Sheppard instead), Ott ran around, talked smack, took a run at Brent Burns' head and fought Cal Clutterbuck twice in one-sided decisions.
Clutterbuck said afterward dressing Scott wouldn't have mattered. Ott's run around every single game he's ever played the Wild with Boogaard and Scott playing, including two weeks ago, and it's never stopped him. Last month, Boogaard challenged Ott. He won't fight those guys.
Who else is looking forward to the last game of the season?
Marty Turco was very excited. He's been downplaying this whole mental thing, but I think it has been weighing on him, and he was ecstatic to perform well. Who knows, maybe this is a key game that can change his mental and physical outlook. He was not asked to be superman, but I thought that was also part of how he played the game. He wasn't over acrobatic or out of the net a lot. He made saves, he directed pucks to safe areas, he tried to get rebounds to stick.
Bottom line, they don't win that game if he's not on top of things _ and he definitely earned a start in Columbus on Thursday (which Marc Crawford said he will get).
Modano has not been practicing, and he's clearly using the rest to play much better. He logged 16:56, had two points and won 11-of-19 faceoffs.
The Stars answered with mental toughness when things got tight. Scoring goals less than one minute after Minnesota cut the lead to one goal on two separate occasions...that was the kind of stuff that was happening to the Stars earlier in the season. This time, they forced it on another team. Was that just a fluke or is this team really getting mentally tougher? We'll have to wait and see, but it sure was nice for one game, at least.
I like hearing that Marty is excited. Let's hope it translates into more strong play.
I thought Marty Turco was very good. Very solid. He kept it simple, didn’t try to do too much and looked in control out there. He was in the right place at the right time on a lot of stuff, especially some of the deflections, and came up with a couple of really nice saves on some quality chances in other cases. It was a good outing for him. He’ll be getting the start in Columbus on Thursday.
The goal by Mike Modano to make it 3-1 and the one by Jamie Benn to make it 4-2 were huge. Both came less than a minute after the Wild had scored to cut the lead to one goal. Talk about your momentum killers. Both those Minnesota goals could have been huge turning points and something Minnesota could have built some momentum on, but the Modano and Benn goals just sucked the life right out of Minnesota.
``That was his first day of contact and he looked like he was really enthused to be in it,'' said Stars coach Marc Crawford. ``He was the life of our practice today, I thought, and that's good. The rest of the guys had a tough game last night, and you need some emotion in the group, and it's great when it comes from someone like that who is showing his teammates that he's really anxious to get back. He approached the practice with the zest and the zeal that anybody would love to see.''
"We're hopeful that he'll react to the treatment and that he'll be able to make it back before the break," said Stars coach Marc Crawford. "He suffered it when he hit [Phoenix's Shane] Doan the other day and it's just a reaggravation, I think, of a previous injury."
The Texas Stars will have their game on March 23 broadcast on NHL network. More information here.