An Attempt at Analysis 

Rather than try to backtrack and do a game recap for each game so far, here we’ll take a look at where we are after the first 13 games. Long story short, it isn’t pretty.So, should we be panicking? Let’s look at some data here real quick.

13 games into the season, we’re 4-6-3 with a total of 13 points. Currently below .500 and ranked second to last in the Central Division with a game in hand.

We’re at a -13 goal differential.

We’re tied for 18th in the League in Goals For. And probably not shocking, we’re 4th in the League in Goals Against.

Now, to say these numbers are concerning is a bit of an understatement. For some context, at this point last season we were 10-3-0. However, I hesitate to even use last year as any kind of measuring stick. The fact is that we are currently limping along trying to get through games while waiting for players to return to the lineup. At this point it’s almost (almost) comical how injured we are.

Last season, our struggle with defense and goaltending was rightfully scrutinized, especially come playoff time. But we were so successful due to our dynamic offensive abilities. We were able to outscore a lot of our defensive shortcomings (at least during the regular season).

So what happens when you’re lacking in the offense department? Janmark and Hemsky are out for the season, and Eakin is getting closer to returning, but he isn’t there yet. Sharp looks to be getting there after suffering a concussion, but hasn’t practiced with the team yet, and Spezza is still day to day. Hudler…well hopefully whatever virus he’s fighting clears up soon. But anyways, that’s 6 forwards we’re missing. Excluding Hudler, those players combined for 97 goals last season. 97 out of the 267 goals scored total by the team. That’s a little more than a 3rd. And that’s a huge loss I think we’re feeling all too much right now.

And that’s not even getting into our defense. Their inexperience has been exposed and put on display several times already. And our goaltending…well, we know it needs to be better, and we’ve known since last season.

So yeah, things are looking pretty bleak.

BUT.

We are still only 13 games into the season. We all know how quickly a season can change. We will be getting some of our injured players back. Sharp I believe is even meeting the team during their Western Canada stretch. And Spezza looks like he’s ready to jump back into a game any minute. Plus, we know the Stars can play well. We saw it during the St. Louis game, and even during the Chicago games where we lost.

After an 8-2 loss (damn you, Laine), we’re allowed to panic a little bit. But it’s still way too early to write this season off.

So, we’ll take things game by game. See where we are when we get key players back. Hope that Jamie Benn gets hot. And pray our goalies pull through for us. It’s not a lot to ask…right?    

Until next time,

Italia

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Game 2: Dallas Stars @ Colorado Avalanche

Well… The Stars certainly know how to keep things interesting.

Saturday’s loss to the Avalanche was nothing short of a chaotic mess. We’ll go ahead and be fair and say that of both teams. Combining to score eleven goals in the game, the Stars and Avalanche showcased their defense, or lack thereof.

For the first eight minutes of the game, things were great! Seguin scored, and on the power play, within the first minute, Shore got his first NHL goal, things were looking good. And then Colborne gets back to back goals to tie it going into the second. Okay, no big deal. No need to panic yet.

And then we gave up three more in the first seven minutes of the second. Including the third goal to complete Joe Colborne’s first career hat trick. So we have five unanswered goals, and we’ve officially broken the streak of ‘no one scores a hat trick on us’. Yikes.

Things look up when JaBenn and Seguin both score a goal to bring us within 1 going into the third. All right. We can deal with that.

Then the third we get one goal per team and we lose 6-5, despite a really solid effort in the third and a nice power play showing in the last two minutes.

So we’ll go ahead and skip all the negatives for a second because it’s the same old same for the Stars. (Penalties, lackluster defense, shaky goaltending) and talk about some of the more positive aspects of the game real quick.

Powerplay goals! Check those out. After giving up that shorthanded goal in the season opener, it’s nice to see that the Stars can, in fact, score on the powerplay themselves.

We’ve taken some cracks at the sloppy defense, but we had some pretty solid defensive plays in that game. (To be honest I can only remember the one instance where JoBenn sat on the puck to keep it out. And the whole Nemeth fiasco, which I think that goal shouldn’t have counted and Nemeth did a really good job at backing Niemi up, but hey, sometimes things don’t go our way.)

And Kari. Kari had a very strong showing and did indeed manage to stop the bleeding in that game after Niemi let in five. Even though he unfairly will get the L, he played a strong game.

All in all, it was certainly an exciting one. And while it’s a little frustrating to watch our team get outplayed in their own style (speed and offensive power to the extreme), have heart. We still have a pretty strong ability to play catch up. While that certainly isn’t ideal, and if we could stop blowing our leads in the first period (lol please and thank you), I think it speaks strongly about the tenacity of our team. They aren’t going to give up without a fight, and neither are we.

game-2
Landeskog (92) fights for position against Korpikoski(38) (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Season Opener: Anaheim Ducks @ Dallas Stars

Final Score: ANA 2, DAL 4

HOCKEY IS BACK!!!

So yeah, that was mostly a good game. The Dallas Stars are right back at it with their classic heart attack style of play. The first period was pretty terrible. We’re falling into an unusual pattern where we are getting significantly outshot. But despite that, Stars still scored first (on the first shot of the game, no less), and led the entire game. Once the boys got their legs back, it was an easier game to watch. Shout out to Niemi, for playing pretty spectacularly. Especially towards the end of the game when the Ducks were throwing everything they had at him. Let’s hope this dude sticks around.

Casual observations:

Penalties, man. On the bright side, the PK is looking pretty good. Thank you Jordie Benn for allowing the team to test that during your double minor…(which happened after the Captain found himself in the box as well)

On the flip side, the Power Play was downright atrocious. It’s literally the first game of the season, I get that, but I’d rather not go back to the same feeling of dread from last season when we went on the PP due to short-handed goals. It got better as the game progressed, but that was scary.

Our new guys seem to be fitting in quite well. So I am still pretty bummed about Janmark having to miss most, if not the entire season. But if our concern was a lack of scoring depth, I think we’ll be ok. Cracknell and Korpikoski flexed a bit of scoring muscles in their Dallas Stars debut (can I just say I am liking Cracknell more and more?).

Our defense has a new look. The blue line is looking a bit bigger these days. Stephen Johns continues to impress, and the pair of Johns and Oduya is still looking solid. Meanwhile, Ruff used this opportunity to do some experimenting with our other defensive pairs. The game started with Benn-Klingberg, and Hamhuis-Nemeth. Let’s just say that didn’t last past the first period. I particularly liked the Nemeth-Klingberg pairing, but we’ll see what happens when Oleksiak returns to the lineup.

Also, being the season opener, we got to see all the new video presentations along with the team introductions. All I have to say is the production team nailed it, as usual. They also used the opportunity to honor the police officers killed during the attack in Dallas this summer. Two of the families of the slain officers participated in the ceremonial puck drop to a standing ovation. It was incredibly emotional. Kudos to the organization for that. 

1 down, 81 to go. We’re buckling in for a long season, and at this point everyone is on even footing. Well except Auston Matthews, who is already ahead in goal scoring… But like I said. It’s a long season, and anything can happen. All I know at this point, hockey is back, baby.

Stephen Johns sporting the badge on his helmet to honor the police officers killed in the attack this summer.
Adam Cracknell during the post game show.

Preseason Game: Frozen Fury (Dallas Stars @ LA Kings)

Final Score: DAL 6, LA 3

So Las Vegas was fun.
After experiencing the first ever NHL game hosted at the beautiful T-Mobile Arena, I have no doubt that the yet unnamed franchise found itself a nice market.

Thoughts about the game/experience:

This was the first time Caitlynn and I attended a game as the “Away” fans. We were certainly outnumbered in terms of people in LA gear. That being said, I feel us Stars fans made our presence known. We were loud! And we only got louder as the game progressed (that tends to happen when you’re in the lead. Also, alcohol).

All day we had seen a lot of people walking around the Strip in Stars apparel, and even though we were outnumbered, we had a decent showing. I liked the amount of Victory Green we saw.

As far as LA fans go, I didn’t have any issues with them. At least in our section everyone was courteous. There was a rather loud dude behind us that took it upon himself to start a “HEY STARS FANS! YOU SUCK!” chant throughout the game. Which many LA fans took a part in. But by the end he had settled down quite a bit…and honestly it wasn’t that annoying.

The Arena, like I said above, was really nice. My only gripe is that there are not enough exits/entrances. We had to wait quite a bit to get in, and exiting was a bit difficult since everyone was getting funneled into the same exit. Then again, my experience is based on the AAC, where we usually arrive early and stay late, so we end up avoiding most traffic.


We didn’t eat at the game, but there were plenty of options from what we saw walking around. They have a Shakeshack! Plus plenty of options for *ahem* adult beverages (Alcohol. I’m talking about alcohol.)

The Arena is pretty much right on the Strip, so once the game lets out, and beforehand, it’s easy to find some bars and restaurants to pregame or continue the celebration/drink your loss away.

All in all, the game was a ton of fun. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Stars won! I can definitely see ourselves taking a yearly trip to Vegas to catch a game. There has already been some discussion about attending the Vegas Team’s season opener next year…

Game 56: WE BEAT THE CAPS!!!

This weekend we had the privilege of watching our Dallas Stars take on the top team in the league. We had previously beat the Washington Capitals on the road earlier this season, and have a pretty good record against them overall (Stars have won the 7 last meetings, and after Saturday night, 8), but hockey being the way it is, you just never know. I was much more nervous going into this game than I think Caitlynn was. And some of the nervousness was certainly called for as evidenced by the final period. The end result was a decisive win against a formidable foe, in a highly entertaining game. Probably one of the most exciting I’ve witnessed to date.

What did we know about the Washington Capitals going in? A bit actually. They’re having quite the season. They sit solidly at the top of the Eastern Conference (ahead by so much that Vegas is no longer accepting bets on which team will win the Eastern Conference). They of course are first in the league as well. In the game prior to Saturday, The Great Alexander Ovechkin scored a hat trick, which helped place him in sole possession of the top of the goal scorer leaderboard. And then they also have Holtbeast Holtby, who is doing pretty well for himself, leading the rest of the goaltenders in wins. That combined with the sheer offensive firepower that this team provides made for a great test for the Stars.

Here are some of the highlights/notable things that happened during this game:

-We won! 4-3

-All of our Patricks (Patrik) got a point

-Roussel and Wilson were shoving each other in the very first face off they were in. We thought this hinted at things to come, but luckily nothing happened on that end.

-JANMARK SCORED FIRST!!! (This is super important for Italia)

-Followed by goals from Jamie (!), and 2 from Seguin.

-Klingberg was on the receiving end of some rough treatment from the Caps. Penalties were called on them, so it stayed a fair game for the most part.

-After Brooks Laich high-sticked Klingberg, he smiled and looked very proud of himself. He got a penalty for it.

-Goligoski received a roughing minor after the ensuing tussle involving Klingberg.

-Dominated in the second period. Like in Chicago, we scored all 4 of our goals in one period. This led to Holtby being replaced in the third period.

-Nemeth playing really solidly. Multipoint night, and earned 2nd Star!

-Seguin and Eakin injured: Seguin left the ice towards the end of the 3rd period after getting wrist cut by Backstrom’s skate. He left to get stitched up, but was able to return for final moments (did not play), and to do his victory lap for earning 1st Star. Eakin left with an undisclosed injury (might have been the result of a hit?). Both Eakin and Seguin will be playing against the Nashville Predators.

So all in all, what a great win for us. We kept the best team in the league on their toes offensively, and then were able to defend when they threw everything they had at us. The last period was stressful, but that was to be expected. The Washington Capitals are too good a team to allow themselves to ease up, even when four goals down. Sure, I think we all would have preferred a bigger deficit to finish the game, but I can’t really complain. Now that this game is over, and we won, I can say that watching the Capitals play was amazing, especially in the 3rd period (I’m sure I would be feeling much different had we allowed them to tie the game up…). We got to witness Ovechkin’s deadly slap shot (which sucks being on the receiving end for), along with some magnificent saves from Holtby that had the Stars fans around us clapping in admiration. I am grateful that we are in different conferences, but I hope we get to play them again. Maybe after the regular season ends in a series…

Until next time!

Caitlynn & Italia

Game 55: Hat trick for Patrick, and not the one you’re expecting.

The initial feelings going into this game were less than fond. Not only had we lost to them five days prior, Spezza is still out with his injury, and suddenly Demers was out with an illness. The outlook at the start was not good. The only thing going in our favor was Artemi Panarin also being out with illness.

We took most of these notes during the game, so please note the descending incoherency as we go along.

-Gorgeous first period showing off our offensive skill, solid second to show off how strong we can be defensively, and then a third that said ‘well, if all else fails, we do have a goalie’.

-Eaves with a beautiful goal at a ridiculous angle! Seriously, we didn’t think it went in.

-Klingberg scores in regulation on the 4-on-4!! (Technically considered special teams!)

-Moen and Mashinter get in a little scuffle, even went so far as to drop the gloves, but the linesmen wouldn’t let them throw punches. They each got 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike behavior.

-Roussel smashes into the glass in a poorly preformed check

-Eaves gets another PP goal!!

-Kari omg thank God (we’re leaving this in, and we’re not sure exactly what happened, but we assume Kari stopped a Patrick Kane break away)

-EAVES HAT TRICK!!!! Eaves scores on the PP yet again to complete the second hat trick of his career. (As a side note, his first career hat trick was with the Red Wings, and against the Dallas Stars)

  • First player in Dallas Stars history to get a hat trick in first period!
  • Tenth player to score three goals in one period in franchise history.

-“They went through the Hawks defense like a bowl of bad Indian food.”- Razor

-Nemeth keeps the puck while falling, manages to pass it to a teammate before hitting the ice. He has definitely been playing better as of late.

-We held defensively through the second period! We have defense again!

-Moen disappears at some point during the second period and does not return. He is out with a lower body injury and is listed as day to day by Ruff.

 

Some Informal Stats through the second period:

-Janmark fall count: 2

-Jordie fall count: 1

-Jamie fall count: 2

-Jokipakka fall count: 1

-Klingberg fall count: 1

-Jamie broken stick: 1 (He broke it himself over his knee in frustration)

 

-Klingberg scores a goal for the Hawks with his butt (deflection), causes the Hawks to rally a bit. Caitlynn finds this hilarious, Italia, being the sour grape she is, does not.

-Kane finds the net straight from a pass from his buddy Toews after winning the face off in our zone.

-Kari seems to be the only Star on the ice in the third period. The Hawks really came back and threw everything they had at us in the third. Luckily, we maintained a two goal lead, despite the Hawks playing with an extra attacker for the last three minutes of the game. Kari held on.

 

Thankfully, this meeting with the Hawks went a lot better than the previous one had. It was nice to be able to win on their ice after the embarrassed us on ours. (Sadly the world did not see to deliver poetic justice and give them a 5-1 loss, but we’ll take 4-2.) We played well, and it’s hard to stop such an offensive powerhouse like Chicago when they get desperate in the third.

Come back next time where we play the Capitals. (Yikes.)

-Cailtynn and Italia

Game 54: Overtime Again? Well okay.

Probably still smarting a little from the horrible loss on Saturday (we know we were), our boys took off on the father’s road trip. First game on the schedule was against the Wild, who we all know beat us at home the last time we met.  Anytime we play the Wild, things seem to get a little sloppy and physical. This game was no exception, but we came out on top, which was a good confidence booster before facing Chicago, yet again, at the United Center.

 

Some slightly more in-depth analysis:

 

-“Make them defend and that’s how we’re going to win.” –Said by the first Wild player in the interviews during the pre-game. Other teams are starting to pick up on how different our defense operates. Our defense plays so offensively, which can be good (like when our defensemen score three of our four goals). It’s not good when we give up 2-on-0s that result in goals.

-Poor possession at the start of the game due to that struggling defense and the pressure the Wild kept putting on our guys to ensure they didn’t have room to work.

-Bad goal in the 3rd for the Wild. Should have been overturned by the review, which was brought up by the league not the Stars themselves, because there was enough doubt about whether or not Dumba touched the puck with his hand before it went in. The bad goal caused our guys to lose their momentum and go 16-5 SOGs in the third period in favor of the Wild. They got rattled, but Kari! Kari was first star of the game in our hearts. Kari is the only reason we made it into OT to get the win.

 

-Jordie very carefully flattens a guy. A very soft push down to the ice. Gentle defending.

-Jordie knocked over a few times.

-Eaves was the target of a lot of shoving and rudeness. He got his helmet punched off there at one point. 😦

-Roussel-Janmark-Hemsky line should come back. Janmark and Hemsky play really well together, and Roussel gives that physical presence to the front of the net and to the forechecks.

-Janmark almost falls attempting to pick up stick off the ice, but he doesn’t!

-Announcer notes how there was no one to ‘go down on Eaves’. Innuendo counter: 1

-Jamie runs into someone’s stick and draws a penalty.

-Klingberg cheering gets picked up by the mics: A+

 

-Goligoski with the goal. Defense getting in on that offense like they do. (Eaves with the assist, which he deserved for getting shoved down and then subsequently sat on).

-Demers goal, which totally bounced in off an unfortunate Wild defenseman. But we’ll take it! (He also got a tripping call, which seems to be his thing recently. Get a tripping penalty, get a point, be it goal or assist.)

-Eaves scores on the power play! They didn’t score on us during our power plays!!

-Eaves plays well on the top lines, both on the top power play unit and on the top line itself. He generates a lot of good opportunities and he goes to the front of the net to put pressure on the goalie and the defense.

-Klingberg once again goes full hero in OT to score. Klingberg now is close to a tie for first for OT winners this season. Toews has 5, Klinger has 4.

-Won while their daddies are here to watch them! “Proud Papas”, as the Stars Twitter called them.

-Less falling to the ice for unknown reasons!

-A few defensive plays that actually worked out for us!

 

So we came away with the win, after a pretty disappointing loss at home. We hope that the momentum carries into Thursday night as well.

 

Next time, we talk Chicago. For real this time.

-Caitlynn and Italia