Isn't it fun to be able to laugh a little bit?
It may mean nothing, but last night's game was a bit of fun that was sorely needed by all Stars fans. We tuned in knowing that Nabokov was 8-0-0 in his last 9 starts in Dallas, that the Sharks had their last 4 at the AAC, and that they're in first place and the Stars are in...well, I don't want to look. So it was a pleasant surprise.
Still, there was business to attend to on Tuesday night, and that was business was Kari Lehtonen. I think most of us around here were more interested going into the game in watching Lehtonen work at home for the first time than the final score. Both turned out quite well, as luck would have it. It was the one month anniversary of Brandon Worley's Kari Lehtonen Film Review, and if you go back and take a look through that, I think you'll agree that we saw much of the same last night.
He made several stops because he's just flat out long. He maintains his butterfly position well most of the time and dominates the entire lower portion of the net. He also can get himself fouled up moving side to side and out of position, like on the Boyle goal. He showed a lot of potential last night and didn't seem to wear down like he did in the Pittsburgh game. Then again, energy is probably easier to come by when you're at home and your team is hanging 8 on the best team in the conference. I thought he also was the benefit of some bounces that could have gone either way, and rebounds that didn't find San Jose sticks, but hey, that's hockey.
Razor said after the game that it's a nice "building block" for him to use in his comeback. That about sums it up. It's just one game, but it can be a confidence builder going forward. I know he raised my confidence a bit.
Reminder: Defending Big D Live is on the air tonight @ 8pm CDT.
Art will be joined by Pat, and our AHL correspondent Stephen, and hopefully by you. Art really wants to take your phone calls tonight, folks, please come around and share your thought's on all things Stars.
After the jump, should we expect a Stephane Robidas suspension? And lot's of quotes and thoughts from the Shark-pounding last night...
I was going to lead with a Robidas blurb, but there aren't any. This is a good sign. It really looked like just a hockey play to me, and I don't think it necessarily surprised Clowe, either. Stephane Robidas is a pretty well respected competitor around the league and I don't think anyone sees that hit as reckless or malicious. It was deserving of a boarding call, for sure. Some nights, a long time ago, it might have been a 2 minute boarding call. In these troubled times, however, he gets 5 minutes and the game. If you ask me that's punishment enough, but the league will be obligated to automatically review it after the game misconduct. We'll wait and see but it's not sounding like a big deal yet this morning.
How will the Sharks recover? Well, they need better play from Nabokov. That's the primary concern. His save percentage has taken a tumble in the last few weeks, and tonight was no help. The defense around him has to be better as well, and anyone who thinks that Vlasic isn't missed is crazy.
The offense, although they managed 46 shots on Lehtonen, were inconsistent on the forecheck and turned the puck over consistently. The forwards need to simplify their game in order to generate opportunities, and must go after second chances and rebounds furiously.
I would not want to be in the Sharks dressing room tonight, and I doubt the players want to be there, either. Instead of taking advantage of a weak opponent, they dropped their worst game of the year after an effortless tilt versus Anaheim on Sunday.
The Mercury News paints a pretty grim picture for a team with 96 points...
This one — an 8-2 humiliation Tuesday night by a Dallas Stars team with only the faintest of playoffs hopes — hurt more than the others.
The immediate response from coach Todd McLellan was a previously unscheduled practice here at 10 a.m. today before the team flies to Vancouver, but not even that seemed harsh enough.
"We should have three practices tomorrow," said a discouraged Ryane Clowe, dropping an expletive or two into his response. "Maybe set up a gantlet out there to get guys to compete."
Failure to compete was the general explanation for everything that went wrong for the Western Conference-leading Sharks against Dallas. And what compounded the problem was that the rout came just 48 hours after San Jose embarrassed itself in a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
"The scoreboard doesn't lie tonight — it went from bad to worse," McLellan said. "I can't stand here and make excuses for them. Obviously everybody watched it and saw how poorly we played."
With the win, Marc Crawford gets the 500th in his career. Mike Heika put together a list of coaches wit h500 victories, featuring two Dallas Star coaches now...
Final tally: 47 shots by San Jose, 45 saves by Lehtonen. It was easily Lehtonen's best performance as a Star and one of the best of his six-year career. And the 8-2 win eased a lot of the frustration that the Stars and their fans had been experiencing because of their post-Olympic struggles.
Not far removed from a pair of back surgeries, Lehtonen was feeling great Tuesday after picking up his first win since April of 2009.
"I don't know if (my health) is 100 percent, but it was a huge step in the right direction," Lehtonen said. "It was nice to see I could play at this level again."
The next question: Can he do it again? The Stars play host to Philadelphia on Thursday and coach Marc Crawford left no doubt that Lehtonen will be back in goal for that game.
Because it doesn't even seem worthy of discussion at this point, I am not going to ask why the Dallas defense allowed 47 shots.
Lehtonen earns Puck Daddy's #1 Star of the night. Quite an honor...
No. 1 Star: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars
On paper it was a tall order, a starting assignment against the potent San Jose Sharks, but Lehtonen was up to the task, turning aside 45 of 47 shots as the Stars rolled to a surprising 8-2 rout. Don't let the final score throw you; San Jose threw constant pressure at Lehtonen, and the importance of his work, especially early, should not be understated. Marc Crawford has already given Lehtonen the starting assignment for Thursday's match against Philadelphia, and if Lehtonen can establish any momentum down the stretch, it could be the final push that gets Marty Turco out of town. If you'd like to see some video evidence of Lehtonen's fine play, check out this dazzling toe save on Dany Heatley.
Later in that post, they spelled it "Brandon Morrow," (they may since fixed it) and in the ESPN highlights package they also say "Brandon Morrow." This isn't a new player in the league, people...
Quotes from Stars PR/Dallas Morning News:
"We did a lot of good things early and we got some bounces to go our way. Kari gave us some confidence, he made some real big saves for us and we snapped the puck around pretty good. I don't know where it came from. Pretty much every scoring opportunity, we seemed to execute."
"They're pretty explosive. They throw a lot of pucks at the net and they've got those big guys that can get to the rebounds, but we did a pretty good job keeping them to the outside. When they did get those lanes to get pucks to the net, Kari made the saves and we were able to clear pucks. I think maybe they were fishing a little bit, looking offensive on the power play, and we got some bounces to go our way. We had two shorthanded goals, and we haven't done that all year."
"That was huge. I've been here now for maybe eight games, and I was thinking before the game that every game, the other team has scored first. It's kind of the mindset - I really wanted to see us score first and that happened, so I think that helped everybody and gave everybody a boost. That helped me a lot also, because we started scoring in the early second period. That was nice."
"It's the best it's been. I don't know if it's 100-percent. I think it needs a few more games, but it was a huge step in the right direction, and it was nice to see that I'm able to play at this level again."
"The whole day is totally different when you know you're going to play. I think the first game in Pittsburgh I was a little bit too excited, and it ended up going pretty badly. I was able to be more calm in net, and that really works for me best. I think I gave some rebounds that I wasn't happy about, but it was great to see our guys battling for those and [San Jose] didn't have a lot of second chances."
"You need your goaltender to make saves, and he was big for us tonight. We managed to score when we had our chances, but I think overall we didn't give them much 5-on-5, and I think that's important, especially when you're giving up six goals a game like we have since we got back. So it was important to keep it tight and I think we did that."
"[Morrow] has been keeping the puck longer now. [Segal] is right-handed. I always liked to play with a left and right-handed player, because it gives you different space on the ice for them to shoot. We just tried to keep it simple, we played a little bit more behind their net, we put pucks behind their D's and forecheck. I think when you do that, you don't have turnovers, and it's easier to play."