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Stargazing: Stars prospects lose to Minnesota, 2-1

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars news, as well as a look at what's happening around the Pacific division and the rest of the NHL. Stargazing will run Mondays and Thursdays more often now that things are picking up, becoming a daily feature once the preseason begins.

The play was evidently a little more structured this go-around, as the Stars allowed just one goal in regulation during game 2, going on to lose in the shootout 2-1 to Minnesota. After dropping their first game in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament 9-6 to the Blues contingent, we were wondering if those were the kinds of results we can expect with Coach Crawford's more "open" offensive philosophy. The sample size is admittedly small and varied thus far, but while these are not "the Stars" as you will see them in October, nor is the senior coaching staff behind the bench in Michigan, the change in style has indeed propagated throughout the organization, as Mike Heika wrote in his blog yesterday:

Glen Gulutzan, the new coach of the Texas Stars and the man who is running the Stars' prospects team in Traverse City, said the Stars are indeed running a new system that is pushing the envelope as part of the new coaching staff in Dallas and Cedar Park. And he added that it will take time for the new players and new system to all come together.

"We do want to play a little uptempo we're not going to hold anything back,'' Gulutzan said."

After the jump: Accounts of the action from those in attendance, Jamie Benn, and do you remember that James Neal has a little brother who also plays hockey?


Mark Stepneski was in Traverse City, and recaps the game for you here:

Despite the loss, coach Glen Gulutzan saw improvement from the first game, a 9-6 loss to St. Louis.

"Way better. We went from 23 chances against last night to ten," Gulutzan said. "The simple message to the guys was we are building, it's a process and if you believe in the process you'll keep playing like that, and then you'll get better results."

Michael Neal scored the lone goal for the Stars with Sergei Korostin picking up the lone assist.

Tyler Beskorowany stopped 29 of 30 shots in regulation and overtime and then four of five in the shootout.

He also mentions Beskorowany's puck movement...

Tyler Beskorowany looked pretty sharp in stopping eight of nine shots in the period. The only that got by him came on the PP and it was off a rebound during a scramble in front of the net. He was moving the puck up the ice well and looked pretty comfortable out there.

For my money, a goaltender that moves the puck up the ice is a must, so I like to hear that. Spoiled by Marty Turco, I found myself frustrated with the puck handling skills (or lack thereof) of several netminders in this last post-season.


The Stars have their assistant GM Frank Provenzano writing a blog for this week, and he had this to say yesterday following their first game:

Tomas Vincour stepped up tonight. He is about 6’2" and made some nice plays going to the net. We have some other players who have benefitted from a year of playing pro hockey as well, like defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy. He was poised with the puck and was a leader here, which is no surprise, because this is his third Traverse City tournament. Trevor Ludwig has also matured from playing Minor League hockey for a year. Luke Gazdic looks like he has really added some size and weight to his frame. He was playing physically and scored one of our goals.


Even though Jamie Benn hasn't scored in the first two games of the tournament, the guys watching from afar have nothing but praise for the young man (Dallas Morning News):

"He put on weight, he was more physical and he really started to work on the defensive side of the game," Holland (Stars scout for Western Canada) said. "Now, I would say he is as good on the penalty kill as he is on the power play. He sees a part of his game that needs work, and he goes after it. He wants to be a complete player."

This summer, Benn has worked on strength and skating and said he feels like he's made strides. New Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is just starting to get know Benn as a prospect, but he's already impressed.

"I definitely think he's ready for the next step," Nieuwendyk said. "You just look at him and he's already in a man's body. If he doesn't make our team out of camp, you will definitely see him play for us at some time this year."


The lone Stars prospect who did score on Labor Day was Michael Neal, younger brother of Stars winger James. He was drafted by the Stars in 2007 in the 5th round. Hockey's Future on Michael:

Neal is a physically imposing forward like his older brother, James.  His skating is above average for a player his size and he does his best work along the boards.  Plays a clean and fairly industrious game.  Craves physical play.  Has a tremendous off-ice work ethic and keeps himself in tiptop shape.  Doesn’t possess any sort of mesmerizing talent and is still very raw.  Lost a crucial year of development due to a knee injury that sidelined him for an entire season.  Will have to overcome a lot to be considered a legitimate NHL prospect.  Needs to find a niche and become exceptional at it in order to become a valuable asset to his team.

Obviously, as a left wing in the Stars system you probably won't be seeing him in Dallas but it looks like you could see him in Cedar Park. I just like brother stories, so there you go. Here's another little piece written about Michael right after he hurt his knee in 2007.


Finally, FoxSports lists Marty Turco as a "Bounce Back Player to watch" this season:

Coming off a solid 2007-08 performance Turco was the hero of the Stars' march to the 2008 Western Conference Final, finally shaking the label of "playoff choker" from his resume. Unfortunately Turco followed that up with the worst single-season performance of his career, with a 33-31-10 record, a bloated 2.81 goals-against average (his career average is 2.26) and an awful .896 save percentage. He also lacked a quality backup last season to help him share the workload, which should be rectified by the addition of Alex Auld.


Around the NHL: