O'Callahan: Ribeiro & Morrow Lead the Way
Saturday, 04.26.2008 / 1:22 AM CT / Feature
By Seamus O'Callahan - Hockey Historian
Since today is the NFL Draft (it’s after midnight as I write), I think it is appropriate to bring up a football analogy to describe what is going in so far for the Dallas Stars in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playofs.
The 1978 Super Bowl marked the only game in which two players won the co-MVP award for the NFL’s final game to crown the champion. Harvey Martin and Randy White were both so good that the media had to step up and give it to both players. They set the tone for a dominating defense and made the plays over and over that destroyed the will of the Denver Broncos in that game. They both were the “straw that stirs the drink.”
That’s what I see in Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow right now.
Now, before I get ahead of myself (after all, the Stars are still a long way off from winning the Stanley Cup, let alone this series vs. San Jose), they don’t award the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the playoffs in April. But there is no denying who is leading the charge for this club, making the plays when it matters most.
Morrow scored two huge goals in Friday night’s Game One, none bigger than the BOMB in OT that won it. He also gave the Stars an important goal in the second that gave them a 2-1 lead, one that almost stood up as the game-winner.
And while Morrow scored ‘em, neither would have been possible without the plays made by Ribeiro to set them up. His nifty stick-work around the net mesmerized the Sharks’ defense and lulled them to sleep on the captain’s first goal of the night, finished off by a sick back-hand pass across the crease that Morrow finished with ease.
Then came the game-winner in overtime, a play in which Ribeiro didn’t register an assist, but he really should have because he made the play happen with help from Stephane Robidas and Mattias Norstrom. Ribeiro again seemed to lull the Sharks to sleep on the left side of the zone, and while he held the puck for what seemed like an hour, he spotted a driving Robidas coming in from the right side and hit him in stride. Robi could have shot it, but chose instead to come around the net and feed the puck back to the Norstom at the point who passed it over to Morrow for a one-timer that was just a perfect shot inside the post. The reason the play worked goes back to Ribeiro, who had the entire Sharks team focused on him and out of position for Morrow’s shot from the right side.
And think about how clutch Morrow has become in the post-season -- Winning Game Five in overtime at Vancouver last year to give the Stars new life. Taking on the Vancouver bench (on one leg) in Game Six. Giving the Stars a kick-start in Game Three vs. Anaheim with two goals in the third period that seemed to carry over to Game Four’s win. And now Friday’s Game One in San Jose.
Someone tell me he is not a perfect captain for this club. He simply leads and puts his money where his mouth is. You can tell he wants it. Every night.
So does Ribeiro, and as long as both of these guys have the hunger, you have to like the Stars’ chances to keep getting wins in the post-season.
Another Game One Win
I have some good news and some bad news for you.
Will it happen again? Time will tell. But again – the numbers don’t lie. Remember, series winners last year went 13-2 in Game Ones. And a bigger number – 68.5% of clubs winning Game One since 1994 have gone on to win their series.
Since moving to Dallas, the Stars are 9-1 in series when winning Game One.
And the best news for the night: Dallas is 7-1, all-time, when winning Game One in the second round of the playoffs. The last time the Stars did it was in round two of the 2000 playoffs (also vs. the Sharks), a season in which Dallas returned to the Stanley Cup Finals.