* whew *
It's safe to exhale for now as the Dallas Stars hang on for dear life and squeaked out a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
A strong start for Dallas that staked them to a 3-0 lead midway through the game is going to likely be overshadowed by a rather poor finish by the team as it felt like the Stars opted to try a prevent defense for the last 30 minutes of the game. Thankfully Kari Lehtonen was great yet again in stopping 36 of 38 shots improving his record to three wins and zero losses. Loui Eriksson, Adam Burish and Brenden Morrow took care of the scoring for Dallas which improves it's record to 3-1-0 on the season.
As was the case in the first two wins however, while it's nice to have two points earned in regulation in the win column for Dallas, the fashion in which they earned them was rather ugly which of course leads to some conflicting emotions.
(Which we cover after the jump..)
Finally Some "Power" In The Power Play : The Stars finally picked up a power play goal (Morrow's tally in the second period that ended up being the winner) finished the game successful in one out of the five chances they got, and there signs of improvement in terms of puck possession, but it's still a long ways off from being truly effective. They still seem to lack an effective ability to enter the offensive zone and were often turned away at the blue line by defenders. When they did manage to gain and maintain possession in the zone, they couldn't create any real traffic in front of the opposing net. The one time they did was the goal that Morrow had scored after Stephane Robidas threw it on the net and allowed brenden to slide the puck past a floundering Jaroslav Halak.
Penalty Killing : The Stars were a perfect five for five on the penalty kill but much like tonight's win itself, the manner in how they killed those odd man chances against wasn't exactly the most enjoyable thing to watch if you're a Stars fan. On the plus side the Stars did keep the Blues contained to mostly perimeter play when they had a man advantage which what you usually want. The Stars however failed repeatedly to clear the puck out of their zone which in turn made it a bit of a shooting gallery on Lehtonen at times.
Old Habits Die Hard Huh Mr. Ott? : This might be nitpicking, but if Steve Ott is supposed to be one of the leaders and someone the others look to set an example on this club - and he is - then sticking Chris Stewart in the ribs and end up getting dinged with a 10 minute misconduct after that altercation is not a good way to go about your business. We like the feisty get-under-their-skin Otter, but at a crucial time like that - and just after the Blues were hit with a holding penalty that pretty much killed any chance they had to tie the game - I'd rather have Ott skate away and stay on the ice in the final seconds to lock away a victory. This time it ended up fine for Dallas as Stewart was also rung up with a misconduct and the face off was still moved into the Blues zone... so no harm / no foul. But now is a good as time as any to get into good end-of-game habits right?
Go Forward Young Men... Not Side To Side! : As some of us noted in the game day thread, there seems to be this habit the Stars have - be it on the power play or even strength - where the Stars will just gain the offensive blue line and then instead of either carrying the puck forward or dumping the puck in, they'll try to make an east-west pass that is often picked off by a defender. The Morrow / Ribs / Ryder line is looking like the most guilty of this tactic but it's a team-wide problem and it's not only costing them scoring chance, but it's creating far too many turnovers. The side pass did pay off for Trevor Daley who made a nice side pass to a streaking Burish that caught Halak flat footed for the second Stars goal, but generally that play is rather ineffective.
Rejected! : Blocked shots aplenty for the Stars tonight... Vernon Fiddler had five, Nicklas Grossman (who looked ok in his first game back) had four, Sheldon Souray had three, and the team in total was credited with 20. So while the Stars on defense are having issues creating exits out of their zone, they are at the very least playing good positional hockey and getting in shooting lanes.
Seeing More Rubber Than A Freeway Sees During Rush Hour Traffic : The Blues in total fired 77 pucks in the general direction of Kari Lehtonen (that is to say shots, blocked shots and missed shots) while the Stars only mustered up 42 pucks on the Blues net.
Stars Points : Morrow (1 goal - 1st of the season), Eriksson (1 goal, 2nd season), Burish (1 goal, 1st season), Ott (1 assist - 2nd season), Daley (1 assist, 2nd season), Robidas (1 assist, 1st season), Mike Ribeiro (1 assist, 2nd season)
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
2 - Andy McDonald (STL)
3 - Loui Eriksson (DAL)