On Thursday night the Dallas Stars played two of the most frustrating periods of hockey I have ever witnessed. They showed determination, chemistry with the new line combinations (after a while), and didn't let an early deficit deter them much. Yet every bounce went the wrong way, shots were just inches off, and J.S. Giguere was just too good. Someone mentioned that it always seems as if the Stars have a habit of making struggling goaltenders look like Vezina candidates, and last game was no exception. It was a continuing trend of a lack of offensive firepower, despite showing an ability to put large numbers of shot on net.
Yet the hard work paid off with some fluky goals and the Stars showed that sometimes resolve and determination can actually have good results for a change. It was a good win for the Stars and not just in the conference standings; this was a win that helps to stem that tide of frustration that builds and prevents the players from pressing. The trick, once again, is to continue to build upon the win and carry over the hard work to the next game.
Today they get another opportunity at a winning streak.
Some important injury news and a look at the Oilers after the jump.
The Dallas Stars:
The big news for today's game is Karlis Skrastins being forced to sit out with a lacerated finger. Skrastins had his hand skated over against the Ducks when he made a great diving play to break up a scoring chance, and his finger was severely cut through his glove.
I didn't see the replay but I knew something wasn't right there," said Skrastins, who needed 14 stitches to repair the cut. "It was a little bit scary. You think it's maybe even deeper."
But there was no damage to the ligaments, tendons or bone. Skrastins was injured when he went to make a diving poke check on Evgeny Artyukhin in the third period and the Anaheim forward's skate went over Skrastins' hand.
"I feel lucky," Skrastins said. "Artyukhin is a big guy."
With Skrastins out, Jeff Woywitka (yeah!) will step in today against the Oilers. Expect the Stars to call up Maxime Fortunus again if Skrastins is out much longer, or perhaps Dan Jancevski.
In case you hadn't noticed, today's game will start at 1:00 p.m. It's the first day game of the season for the Stars, which should be interesting for a team that has struggled with their game-to-game routine
Marty Turco used to be so concerned about day games that he would get up extra early and then take a nap just to duplicate his game-day routine. "Then I saw Mike Keane wake up, drink a cup of coffee and go out and play, and I startedto think that maybe I need to just not make too big a deal out of this," Turco said. "Afternoon games are always a challenge, because you are throwing off your preparation somewhat," Crawford said. "It's just awareness that you've got to do certain things early in the game and try to get everybody involved and try to do things that allow you to have some energy. What do you get energized by? Well, short shifts, early shots, early hits, those things are all things you get a little momentum from."
Marty Turco used to be so concerned about day games that he would get up extra early and then take a nap just to duplicate his game-day routine.
"Then I saw Mike Keane wake up, drink a cup of coffee and go out and play, and I startedto think that maybe I need to just not make too big a deal out of this," Turco said.
"Afternoon games are always a challenge, because you are throwing off your preparation somewhat," Crawford said. "It's just awareness that you've got to do certain things early in the game and try to get everybody involved and try to do things that allow you to have some energy. What do you get energized by? Well, short shifts, early shots, early hits, those things are all things you get a little momentum from."
From the "out of left field" category, comes this article that makes the case for Marty Turco to make Team Canada's Olympic team.
His puck handling skills are the best among all Canadian goalies and for a tough Canadian squad that is going to force teams to dump it in (because face it, are they going to dangle around Chris Pronger?) the talents of Turco will be frustrating to the other team.
And on top of that, he’s having a renaissance season with the Stars right now. He is leading the charge (along with James Neal and Brendan Morrow, of course) back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
All this talk about Marty Brodeur… Roberto Luongo… Steve Mason… Marc-Andre Fleury… where’s the love for Marty Turco?
Marty Turco will get another chance today to continue his campaign for the Olympics, as he will be in net against the Oilers.
Marc Crawford said during yesterday's practice that he will keep the lines the same from last game, while perhaps inserting Brian Sutherby or Krys Barch on the fourth line. So after a solid and balanced effort from all of the lines, we'll get a chance to see if they can carry that over and perhaps build some continuing chemistry. The Stars have fought with consistency all season long and part of that has been a constant juggling among the lines in an effort to find the best combination that works in Crawford's system.
The Edmonton Oilers:
The Stars last faced the Oilers way back on October 6, when they lost 5-4 in a shootout. Edmonton has since struggled with injuries and consistency and were 1-3-1 in their previous five games before winning 4-1 in Detroit on Thursday night. From The Copper & Blue:
ctually, "check" was the operative word tonight as the Oil put in a real solid team effort. Other keywords were "skate" and "pass", and even expressions like "hit" and "shoot" and "stopthedamnpuckalready" put in regular appearances. Although they were helped by a couple of ridiculously soft goals, the Oilers won this game on merit. Bizarre.
What changed? On the individual level, Ryan Stone and Robert Nilsson returned from lengthy injuries to play on a solid line centred (!) by Zack Stortini. Patrick O'Sullivan actually found the net, and then found it again 3 minutes later. Tom Gilbert came out of purgatory to be paired with Sheldon Souray and played a solid game. Jeff "Top Shelf" Deslauriers bounced back from allowing 7 goals in his last 30 minutes of action to play an acceptable, if occasionally chaotic, game between the pipes. The team skated hard and checked hard and broke out of their own end with some authority and came within a team-wide brain cramp in the dying second of the first of posting the shutout.
The Stars and the Oilers are dead even at goals per game (2.93), yet the Oilers have struggled with goaltending and defense. Edmonton is near the bottom of the NHL in both shots allowed per game and goals allowed (3.11); what's interesting to keep an eye on is the fact that while the Oilers do have problems putting a high number of shots on net, they have one of the top shooting percentages in the NHL. Edmontons scores on 10.6% of their shots , good four 6th (the Stars are 17th at 9.1%).
What should be interesting to pay attention to is the fact that both teams are horrible in the faceoff circle, with the Stars holding a slight advantage over the Oilers (47.0% to 46.8%).
Looking at both teams, the Oilers and Stars have followed along near the same paths. The difference has been in net, as the Oilers have not had the same level of play by their goaltender as the Stars have had.
Edmonton: G Nikolai Khabibulin (back), RW Ales Hemsky (shoulder), RW Fernando Pisani (colitis), D Denis Grebeshkov (knee) and C Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) are out. Dallas: D Karlis Skrastins (finger) is out.
Edmonton: G Nikolai Khabibulin (back), RW Ales Hemsky (shoulder), RW Fernando Pisani (colitis), D Denis Grebeshkov (knee) and C Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) are out.
Dallas: D Karlis Skrastins (finger) is out.