Jonas Gustavsson reared his ugly head again last night in a rather round about way; His delay in June and July, coupled with his final decision to go to Toronto prevented the Stars from potentially picking up a goaltender that many of us had our eye on as backup plan: Scott Clemmensen.
That's not to say that we don't have confidence in Auld. I think we do. But Clemmensen put on a stinking show last night at the AAC and robbed Dallas of several would-be goals, daring me to wonder all night if we missed out on something there. He was, dare I say, spectacular at times, and played the whole stinking game unfortunately.
That's not to say that Clemmensen was the Stars biggest problem last night. Far from it, actually. A slow start and more penalty trouble hampered the Stars from the get-go, and the second period proved to be deadly to a Dallas team playing with most of their NHLers.
More thoughts on the game after the jump....
The Stars have seen special teams dominate the box scores in pre-season thus far, and Tuesday was no different. 3 of the 4 goals in the game were PP goals. Dallas needed a 5-on-3 to score theirs (courtesy of Jamie Benn) and allowed Florida two PP tallies.
Kudos to Climie, who stopped 16 of 17 in just over 30 minutes of work. I felt bad for him, as the switch occurred at the whistle following his only goal allowed, but the kid was solid in there for 1.5 periods. Very composed. I wish I could say the same for Krahn. It's not that he played poorly, but he's a little less confident than Climie. Krahn's first goal allowed came during a Florida PP, and Mark Fistric had lost his stick, sprawled out in front of the crease. Deft penetration and passing from the Panther PP generated a cross crease pass and an easy goal. It looked to me on the play that Krahn could have easily impeded that pucks progress across the blue, but instead it looked like he almost got out of it's way as it zoomed across. Marty Turco would have used the old poke check there, me thinks. Maybe I need to see it again, but it looked like inexperience.
The real story for me tonight was the pace of the game during those precious seconds when the refs allowed 5-on-5 hockey to run free and easy. It was anything but free and easy. The pace, the "up-tempo" stuff we've been hearing about wasn't there. It re-appeared in the 3rd period, too little too late.
I thought Benn started weak, and finished strong. The goal on the 5-on-3 was nice, but he had an even better chance in front of the net a few seconds later that would have brought them within 1, and Clemmensen just shut the door. Morrow was happy to have Benn on their line in the third period (quotes shamelessly stolen from the DMN):
``The games I've seen, he's been one of our best players, if not our best. Every situation that our team has put him in, he's excelled at. He looks like he's going to be a good one. Wherever he plays, he seems to be effective. It's going to be a tough decision.''
Andrew Hutchinson is handling the puck too much. That's all I'm going to say on that.
Fabiann Brunnstrom had a couple of nice chances early on, but got worse as the night progressed. Pretty soon, Benn had usurped his position with Ribeiro and Morrow. I thought that was a good call. Before that line came alive in the third, the Richards/Neal/Eriksson trio looked like the best combination again to me, though they generated little on offense.
I think we are getting there. Our expectation certainly wasn't that we were going to be letter perfect for the game or preseason. There were a lot of good things tonight. I thought in the third period, we got to a pace of the game where we want to play. There is more to do there, especially in convincing our offensive forwards that they are going to be so much better served if they keep their shift time at a level where we can use them on a continual basis. Those long shifts draw so much out of you that it takes a little bit longer for you to get back.
I think job number one is to get the penalties under control a little more, and play the game with the purpose that Crawford is preaching. Tonight I saw the same team from last year: The one that gets behind and then kicks it in gear too late. The one that lost all the important special teams face-offs. The one that (in the second period) looked like a monkey doing something terribly inappropriate to a football. Excuse the analogy. It was a bad period.
If they can have more periods like the third, and less like the second. They're going to be alright. Chalk it up to growing pains of a new coaching staff and philosophy, I suppose. To sum up:
James Neal on the forecheck.
Robidas, as always.
Andrew Hutchinson on the PP? really?
The penalty kill
Mike Modano's hip (did not play tonight, day to day)
Lack of pace