If you like your hockey extra gritty and defensive with a hint of animosity and dislike, then tonight was your kind of night. Of course if you're a Dallas Stars fan on top of all that then tonight wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been as it was the Los Angeles Kings with the 1-0 win on the strength of a late Jack Johnson goal and 28 saves by Jonathan Quick who notched his third straight shutout - not just against the Stars of course - which is nothing to sneeze at as a hockey fan. Quick is easily the hottest goalie in the NHL right now and the Stars just couldn't solve him tonight - not that it was for lack of trying.
Andrew Raycroft got the start and was quite good stopping 23 of 24 shots against. Good, but sadly not "Jon Quick good" on this night. At the very least though he's had to have earned some trust points from the coaching staff and his teammates because for 55 minutes and two seconds, he was matching Quick save for save with good aggressive and well positioned netminding.
A loss is never easy to take but Stars fans should be encouraged by a result like tonight in terms of how the team played overall.
Even Steven : You really couldn't ask for a closer battle between two teams as the Stars and Kings matched themselves in almost every major category for the game. Shots were 28-24 in favor of the Stars. Hits were 32-31 in favor of the Kings. They were also both close to even in giveaways and takeaways though the Kings held a slight edge in both those departments. The only two areas you can say where it wasn't as even as it could have been was blocked shots (Stars had 26 to the Kings 11) and faceoffs (Stars won 59% of those tonight).
Special Teams Not Needed : The Stars went 0 for 2 on the power play tonight but that stat is a little deceiving as both power plays were cut short due to the Stars taking a penalty or coming off being penalized. Likewise the Kings only picked up a single power play which came thanks to Dustin Brown's usual diving act, but thankfully killed off by the Stars.
Stripes Aren't Awful All The Time : If anything we need to give credit to the officials in this game because this was a spirited and physical affair between these two rival clubs and the refs let them play. Nothing got out of hand - except for Brad Richardson drilling Adam Pardy from behind into the boards which was the lone ugly spot - and fans got to enjoy a well played, intense game from both teams. Tonight was a perfect example of what some of us mean when we say a 0-0 or a 1-0 game can be just as exciting as a high scoring affair.
Everyone Gets A 'Red Star' : When I was in elementary school, our teacher used to hand out gold star stickers to kids who did exceptionally well on a test or assignment and red colored stars to kids who maybe didn't do as great but still deserves some recognition. Tonight was one of those nights for Dallas. The top two lines were buzzing and had a number of great scoring chances. The fourth line was good and I thought Toby Petersen was showing more energy than he had in his previous games. Adam Pardy was a nice spark on the blue line and even picked up a number of shots. Obviously in a shutout you can't exactly heap praise and glory on a team that came out on the losing end, but the team as a whole had a pretty respectable game. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other guys as they were a little bit better.
Down Goes Brown... And Down He Goes Again... : Maybe Dustin Brown isn't diving. Maybe we're drawing the wrong conclusion about him and he's just the worst skater in the NHL and can never stay on his feet the moment he's touched by a hand or a stick or a feather. Remember last year in a game where he 'dove' even after being tripped by one of his own teammates? Seriously, maybe he's just a horrible skater...
I know, now that I read all that back it does sound very ridiculous. He flops so much, he'd put Peter Forsberg in his prime to shame... And we called him "Floppa" for cryin out loud!
Ice Tracker : In order to give you all a better visual of how the game went tonight, a period by period breakdown of the Stars and Kings shots, hits and goals..
I think this just goes to show how good a job the Stars - excusing a few shots they allowed in the second period - are doing overall in keeping the Kings scoring chances to the outside and away from the slot area. In the third period especially, the Kings had very little going in the Stars offensive zone.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Jonathan Quick (LA)
2 - Andrew Raycroft (DAL)
3 - Simone Gagne (LA)