Quick hits today, but two quotes from Lindy Ruff after last night's game stuck out to me. Let's get right to it:
On the defense playing a complete game:
"It really is a combination of getting the save at the right time and believing that, in the end, we’re just going to have to battle through this. I thought we were a little bit tight the last eight minutes. We had some guys that could have made some plays and could have made some better decisions leaving the zone which would have allowed us to go up ice. I think because we’ve had some tough finishes here in the third period that we had some players that have to get through that, get through the apprehension and be able to make plays. Tonight, when we didn’t make them and it went back our way, Kari (Lehtonen) stood tall for us."
On whether the Stars are playing their best hockey now:
"We’ve probably played some of our best two-way hockey. We didn’t get rewarded for it the other night obviously but when you’re keeping the opposition’s prime opportunities down and you’re not giving up situations you can control, like odd-numbered rushes, it’s good. I think the energy we came out with tonight was really important. We’ve just to move on to the next one. We’ve played some great games in our building that we didn’t win. We didn’t get rewarded last time and that’s when you have to battle through that adversity and that disappointment."
On the first quote: Yes, those last eight minutes were, if not harrowing, at least a bit dicier than you would like to see. Sure, it's the Penguins, but the Stars had chances to really salt this game away earlier, and they were never really able to. The flip side of that is the fact that the defense was active in their own zone (just ask Kris Letang), and that Kari Lehtonen was rather excellent. It's amazing what high-grade goaltending can do for you.
And secondly, are the Stars playing their best hockey now? I go back and forth on that. Certainly they have been finding new ways to pressure opponents--the Horcoff line was again creating great things at times last night--and the physical play last night was refreshing, although it is still fairly apparent that the Stars are not the biggest team in the league. Really, the Stars have been playing above-average hockey for a lot of the season (well, first and second periods, at least). The only things I've noticed lately that really stick out are, 1) Seguin isn't carrying the team with his goal-scoring, and 2) the five-goals-a-night thing has seemed to die down. In fact, the Stars have only surrendered more than three goals once this entire month. That would have been revelatory back in late fall of 2014.
So, the Stars may be playing their best defense of the year lately, but that's a fairly low bar to clear, unfortunately. Chicago should be a good barometer, one would think.
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Apparently the Senators were going to have official Hamburglar masks given away last night, but the weather prevented them from being delivered. Because it's Canada, however, some local radio station had makeshift ones done up just in time for the game. At least, that's what I think I heard on Gamecenter last night while I was chopping onions. I was crying a lot, so it's hard to be sure.
The Stars showed a lot of "moxie" last night. Do you know what moxie is? Define it, right now. [DMN]
Here is a recap with video, and I bet you already read it! Oh, you didn't? Well, go read it sometime. Whenever. [Stars]
Oh my goodness, read this article if only for the amazing video of Jamie and Jordie Benn six years ago. Also, it's a fun article. [Hockey Writers]
Jack Campbell is stepping up big time. Soupy posted a shutout last night against Chicago. Can you guess who was in goal for the Wolves? If you guessed "Matt Climie," then you win the fifty bitcoins I owe Derek. [100 Degree Hockey]
Bill Guerin acknowledged that the Penguins need to stop whining quite so much about penalty calls. This was before Letang's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty last night. [SportsNet]
Stick tap to commenter Rhinomatic for pointing out this article from SSS on the decreasing role of Alex Chiasson in Ottawa. [Silver Seven Sens]
Jaromir Jagr passed Phil Eposito on the all-time goal-scoring list last night. Love that guy. Jagr, I mean. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Jack Eichel is a Hobey Baker finalist, which is the least surprising thing of yesterday. [SI]
Very sad news yesterday as Matthew Wuest, founder of CapGeek, passed away from colon cancer. James Mirtle had a great bit of reflection about the news, which I recommend you read. The official news release is here: [Metro Halifax]
Finally, Andrew Hammond is unstoppable. The Senators scrapped their way to a 6-4 win over Boston in a game that see-sawed its way up the goal-scoring charts. Curtis Lazar celebrated in appropriate fashion for his new role as the Royal Taster for 'Burglar: