It's always the West coast games that go late. Or at least it sure seems like it. Not that I noticed anyhow as that game was perhaps the most tense affair of the season in spite of my knowledge that the Stars still are very unlikely to make the playoffs. Hey, self-deception can be fun sometimes. Let's ride this wave together, shall we?
Jyrki Jokipakka looked really good last night. His confidence was there, and that's always the most encouraging sign from young defensemen. It would certainly be tough to see the Stars trading him in the offseason unless the return is outstanding, but they will have to do something. Still, great to see Jyrki being less Hyrki last night.
Jason Spezza was more or less psychic at times last night, patiently outwaiting the Flames not only on the Benn goal, but on the power play multiple times as well. Yes, this isn't 25-year-old Jason S. we're getting for the next few years, but I really have to stop myself from harping on how thankful I am for the fact that we'll get to keep watching him in green for a while.
Jamie Benn was gutting it out all night long, but the pain he's playing through certainly seemed to wear on him as the game progressed. Still, this is a captain playing when the Stars have something to play for, and he's out there killing penalties and blocking shots. Leadership, leadership, leadership.
Was this Ales Hemsky's best game as a Stars? The goals were both great, but I don't think it was his prettiest night of the year. That said, anything in the net after a 17-game drought is something to be thankful for. The Stars need Hemsky to be productive somehow, and multi-goal games are pretty much the best way to do that. (If he could just drive the net a tad more and shoot, though...)
Patrik Nemeth and John Klingberg in overtime were quite the pair. I hope we get to see that for a very long time to come. It's such a thing of beauty to have the size and defensive abilities of Nemeth paired with the enormous offensive upside of Klingberg, isn't it?
And by the way, it was nice to have an overtime period where the Stars weren't completely turtling for four minutes. I could get used to a lethal offensive team being, well, at least mildly startling in overtime, yes I could.
Okay, I'll try not to be too negative here, but would it be possible to push Cody Eakin's zone start percentage to something like 106% OZ? Any time he was defending in the Stars' third, things seemed to get very messy very quickly. Pick your favorite moment: the "huh?" pass to no one that sat inside the blue line to continue the Flames' possession or the friendly fire on Kari. Eakin has his moments, but goodness me, this fellow is no Guy Carbonneau just yet.
Ritchie and McKenzie are still finding their way. Like most rookies, they are going to need more, you know, consistency.
Horcoff is certainly not a bad guy for them to watch while they learn, though. That assist to Hemsky was the right play, even though the Stars had a trailer beaver tailing in the slot. Good on Horcoff to make the tough, accurate pass to Hemsky instead of the safer drop into the slot. Execution is important, I am told.
Seguin is not 100%, but that shootout goal was what you need from your best player. Great stuff from #91. All the top guys contributed tonight.
Kari Lehtonen was brilliant last night. Go back and watch his saves in the highlights. This is the goalie the Stars need, and it's performances like these that make it so tough for a coach to tab a backup for a start during a critical stretch. He wasn't scrambling overmuch when the puck bounced around in tight, and he confidently shot out his blocker on multiple occasions. The fact that Deryk Engelland scored twice should tell you everything you need to know about whether Lehtonen had a chance on those shots. Kari is on right now, folks.
Also worth noting: Karri Ramo had not lost a shootout until last night. That is something you can hang your hat on, not literally.
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Watch these highlights from last night. That game was so tense and intense. [Stars]
If my rambling recap wasn't good enough for you last night, here is a Professional-Grade Recap by someone who is not Sir Michael of Heikaland. Does that mean it's still worth your time? It's hard to say. [DMN]
Razor takes a look at how performance down the homestretch correlated to playoff performance last season. [Razor with an Edge]
Fun piece here on how Grubes (and a couple other arena DJs) selected the team's current goal songs. [SportsRants]
With the Texas Stars looking more and more like a playoff team thanks to Jack Campbell and friends, what would the playoffs look like? [100 Degree Hockey]
Radim Vrbata has been fabulous in his time with Vancouver. He scored his 29th goal Tuesday night. [Pro Hockey Talk]
The Oilers beat Colorado 4-3 last night (which should silence any remaining shippers of the "AvS PLLAYOFS" boat). The coolest part of this one was how two rookie Oilers dealt with who got puck from what ended up being their first goal and first assist. [The Score]
Willie Mitchell and his wife have welcomed Aaron Ekblad into their home this season. "You don't even want to know what's been going on at my house," says Megan Mitchell. Hockey players! [Grantland]
Summertime may not bring a huge pool of coveted UFAs, but the coaching carousel may be the most exciting thing to watch anyway. [ESPN]
The Senators are reinforcing the NHL dictum that prohibits fans from throwing hamburgers or anything else on the ice during play. This is much better than the problems Toronto was having earlier this year. [Ottawa Citizen]
Part 2 of the "Brothers in the NHL" series is now up. Four Staal brothers is just TOO many! [Hockey Writers]
Steve Moses may be coming to the NHL, and you should be excited about it. [SportsNet]
Finally, check out this very cool interview with Dave Gunnarson, the artist behind most of the awesome goalie masks you see in the NHL. [Hockey by Design]