Icing a group of younger prospects, peppered with the (very) occasional NHL veteran, the Dallas Stars came up a little short in their bid to open the pre-season with a win and fell to the Lightning and their new goaltender Dan Ellis by a score of 4-2. Beating the Dallas Stars is not a @danellisproblem.
Gleaning enough information from a single pre-season game to draw meaningful conclusions seems unlikely, but it's the way of things, so we must do what we must do...
It's late, and quite frankly I'm just happy to have been able to watch a Dallas Stars hockey game in person tonight, so I'll keep this simple with: The Good. The
Bad Not As Good. And the So-So.
Aaron Gagnon: Without a doubt my Dallas Star of the game, Gagnon had a goal and an assist, but did so much more throughout the game. His goal did not come on his best scoring chances against Dan Ellis, but served as a nice reward for a game full of hard work. He pursues the puck aggressively in all three zones and was possibly the most consistent Star on the ice. After having enjoyed his work last summer with the Texas Stars, it was nice to see him grab the spotlight a little tonight and show the coaching staff something.
Severin Blindenbacher: We always say that when you don't particularly notice a defenseman, he must be doing something right. This is what's basically going on here, except his name is so long that it was hard not to screw up your eyes and try to read his jersey every time he was on the ice. I thought he was...poised. He had a spot of trouble here and there on some PK time, but otherwise looked solid. He is a veteran Swiss player at the age of 27 and has played a lot of hockey, but makes his transition to North America this year. He's a bit of a project but after one little sampling, he seems like a good project. We'll see.
The Penalty Kill: Led by (in TOI) Severin Blindenbacher, Mark Fistric, and F Greg Rallo, the Stars managed to keep a clean sheet on the PK. The Lightning went 0-5. Again, the personnel and various other extenuating circumstances make this uncertain to translate to tomorrow, much less two weeks from now, but the Stars PK struggled so much last year that it's worth mentioning.
Mike Ribeiro: The rumors are true. Ribs looked more physical and plenty motivated. I don't think (outside of faceoffs) there's anything to worry about here.
Tomas Vincour: Looked great on a line with Aaron Gagnon. Think that's the last time you'll see that this year, Cedar Park? He's spent three years in the juniors and appears ready to join the Texas Stars this season. Vincour finished the night with two assists.
The Not As Good...?
No real front-runner in the backup battle: Statistically the win has to go to Raycroft, who faced more short handed time and had a better save percentage, but to me, I thought both had their moments and warrant further consideration. Side note: I miss Marty's puck handling. Might just be me, I know, but I'm just saying.
More after the jump...
Jonathan Cheechoo: This experiment is still firmly up in the air for me after watching that game. I thought he was noticeable in the first period in both ends for different reasons. A couple of times he seemed to show that "nose for the puck" and found it in some scoring areas but couldn't quite put anything together. You could sense there was something there somewhere but he couldn't quite get a hold of it. Then in his own end he seemed, perhaps, a little flat footed, which can happen to anyone when they're skating with a bunch of twenty year olds. We need to see more, but let's just say Brenden Morrow was the (far) better of the two wingers on that line.
Scott Glennie: I hesitate to say anything bad about such a nice young kid, but people were asking via email and twitter if he was noticeable out there, and the answer was "No, not really. Not tonight."
I'm sure he will be, but I think the dreamer in all of us was hoping he would be knocking a little harder on the door at this point. This is only his first camp, so patience is the key. He is one fast dude, though.
Philip Larsen: This seems like an odd spot for him, but I'm sticking by it. He had a shaky first period, I thought. He was beat by attackers coming across the middle, moving around him on a couple of occasions. In his first go around as Stars PP QB he iced the puck. He got spun around pretty good in his own end, looking for the puck and his man on the first TB goal. He was a little out of sorts.
But then things got better. His passes were crisper. He seemed to be more engaged in the offense. Then of course he took that great pass from Vincour right between the circles and beat Ellis clean on a beautiful wrister.
The 20 year old showed a lot of poise in his first two games with the Stars last spring and we expect he'll only get better. Tonight was an over-all positive step from where I was sitting.
My 3 (Stars) Stars:
#1. Aaron Gagnon
#2. Tomas Vincour
#3. Mike Ribeiro (or Larsen. Take your pick.)