Sturm Blog: Stars/Leafs
They say it is not how you start, but how you finish. If there are only going to be 15 good minutes in a movie, it is best to put those 15 at the end. Any other cliche's?
1 more: Not the prettiest girl at the dance, but still 2 points for the Stars as they opened the homestand with a much-needed big final push and finally beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at the AAC.
I must tell you that through much of the first 2 periods, I felt like the caliber of the hockey was extremely weak, and I wondered how much money Steve Ott makes everytime the team looks uninspired without him. Ott adds something dramatic - we all know that - but we only know the true value of it when we see them sleepwalk through a night without him.
Thankfully, they woke up in the 3rd period, and thanks to a frantic and exciting ending, the Stars scored 3 goals in the final 21 minutes to save the night.
I was honored to name the 3 stars of the game, and to this second, I am wondering if I got it right or wrong. You decide:
I had Brad Richards as my #3 star, as I thought he was exceptional all night. Nikolai Kulemin was the #2 for both of his Maple Leafs goals, including a huge rebound goal with less than 7 minutes to go which appeared to be the game winner at the time. Then, I gave the #1 star to Mike Ribeiro for his insane tip in goal that saved the night and perhaps was a 2 point goal with his moment of magic (or as he might say "luck") on his redirect to tie the game in its last moments.
The reason I am 2nd guessing is that James Neal was likely wronged. His display at the end of regulation in his defensive zone was impressive, and then he topped off his evening with the game winner in OT. I considered dropping Kulemin, but that would have been extremely homerish to have all 3 stars as Dallas Stars when it is a 4-3 OT game. There was no way Richards was falling out as he was the Stars best player much of the night. So then I had to decide between 63's brilliant game-saving goal, or 18's sum total of his great work all night. I went with Ribeiro because without the tip, Neal's plays don't happen. But, I do grant you that I'm not sure I got it right.
Faceoffs were a giant issue again for the Stars as they lost 33 of 50 after the 1st intermission. They are normally a poor team on the draw, but without Ott, they get even worse.
Turco had a very solid night for the most part, but he will no doubt admit that the 3rd goal against him was one he wanted back as he gave up a juicy rebound and seemed to lose sight of the puck as well. Overall, he kept them in the game early, and that cannot be overlooked.
Florida rolls in on Friday, and the Stars must play the Panthers again without Ott. Florida is the 2nd worse team in the NHL right now, but Toronto was the worst, and we saw how that worked out. Modano is close to returning, they tell us, so that should help things. Points in 10 of their 12 games tell us the Stars are in the mix this year, and have a chance to be pretty good.
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