Monday, September 29, 2008

The Stars in Colorado

I do feel kind of bad that I didn’t get the chance to Twitter Sunday night’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks to you folks, and write a bit of a wrap-up about it. And I thought about doing one today; just a chance to pour over the stats and have a look at what might be gleaned from them. But, when thinking about it further (I swear, not out of laziness - well, not completely), I decided to let the missed opportunity be just that, and move on.

I don’t know about you (I really don’t - the comments section is REALLY quiet - c’mon boys and girls, make some noise!), but I love it when the Dallas Morning News or the Dallas Stars' website runs a bit of a “human interest” piece, and lets you into the Life of an NHL Hockey Player. I guess it stems from wanting to be a pro sports figure of some sort since I was a kid. The sport changed several times, but the dream never did - it’s like that for lots of boys and girls I’d imagine. But, the more I learn about how whirlwind and fast-paced the hockey players’ lives are, the more I feel like I missed the boat.

Case in point. If you haven’t read it yet, there’s a great blog piece by Matt Niskanen out on the Stars website today. I recommend it - it’s a quick read. And, there’s another piece in the DMN about Landon Wilson - journeyman forward and son of the Stars’ very own Rick Wilson.

Just a few quick notes for you. The team was expected to announce some cuts today (or possibly early tomorrow) to get the working number down to around 30. No word on those moves yet. The Stars hit the ice again on Wednesday in another pre-season tilt, this time against the Colorado Avalanche. Not a surprise for those of you reading the links above, as at least one mentioned the Stars’ team-building exercises in the mountains of Colorado.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pre-Season Game 3: Dallas 4, St. Louis 3

The Stars mounted three-goals in the third period, and survived a late push by the visiting St. Louis Blues, in order to hang on for their first pre-season victory, 4-3. As with all previous pre-season games, this game was not broadcast through radio or television, so all impressions are gained by looking at the stats.

First, it was nice to finally get a win. The Blues should be a decent club this year (though probably not serious contenders in the heavily competitive Western Conference).

Second, from reading the stats, it appears that St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason had a really great night. Mason made 31 stops on 35 shots. That’s still giving up four goals, but any night where your goaltender faces 35 shots is a pretty rough night for him. If he can play like this through the season, he’s going to give the Blues another great option in goal.

By comparison, Marty Turco played the entire night in net for Dallas, and faced 19 shots, stopping 16.

Lastly - the Stars really kept the competitive fire going last night, pulling out a rally in the third period, and holding off a rally by the Blues. That really gives a boost to a team’s offense AND defense. I’d like to see them carry that momentum on into the next game, tonight in Chicago.

As far as stats go, Brenden Morrow continued his strong pre-season play, adding another goal to his totals, and defenseman Nicklas Grossman had two assists on the night. Stars’ roster hopefuls B.J. Crombeen and James Neal each had a goal as well. Competition for that last forward spot available for a promising rookie looks like it’s building up even stronger.

Stars Open House

I was going to share a shot of center ice with you folks, as I took one with my camera phone while I was skating at the American Airlines Center today. But, the forces that negotiate transfers via Bluetooth from phone to Mac are not being cooperative today. So phooey.

But, I did attend the Open House the Stars held this morning, and watched Dave Tippett run the players through their workouts. Also, snagged two tickets for an upcoming game (Oct. 29th - Dallas faces Minnesota). AND, got to skate on the ice at the AAC. Altogether a pretty productive Saturday morning!

The attendance at the event looked pretty good. I don't know if there were a thousand people there, but if you counted the kids that were in attendance as full-sized individuals, then I think you could make an argument for it. I didn't make it in until 10:30, by which time the players had all taken the ice and run a few drills. I was hoping for a small scrimmage, but no such luck. Everyone seemed pretty loose, and it was a lot of fun watching the younger players really enjoy the camp. In particular, I noticed James Neal, B.J. Crombeen and Chris Conner all picking at one another about missed goals and one-timers on one particular goal. I mention this because I think it's a good sign. When the young players are at ease enough to let loose and joke around a bit, but still really work and put 100% effort into the practices, it shows that the veterans have done a good job in making them feel welcome, and allowing them to put nerves aside more than usual. At least, that's my take on it.

Another note - the ice in the AAC in September is every bit as bad as the ice in the AAC in June. The surface was really carved up, and the Zamboni did what it could between the practice and the public skate, but it just wasn't cold enough to refreeze the surface completely. Hopefully it will improve in the next couple of weeks!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pre-Season Game 2: Colorado 4, Dallas 2

The Stars dropped their pre-season home-opener versus the Colorado Avalanche tonight, 4-2. Once again, the game was not broadcast via television or radio - we’re getting closer to those soon though - so the opinions and thoughts being shared tonight are no more than analysis derived from pouring over the box score and reading notes from around the league.

I will say, though, that starting the year 0-2 is better in the pre-season than in the regular. So, it’s good that the Stars are getting it out of their season before the Games That Count start. The coaches will tell you that it really doesn’t matter (the wins and losses) in the preseason, because they’re there to analyze lines, observe how young players react to a game played at NHL speed, and get a feel for how the other bench coaches. And they’re right, of course. That doesn’t mean that Dave Tippett wouldn’t have liked to get that win on home ice, though.

Mike Ribeiro, Brendan Morrow and heralded European Fabian Brunnstrom all had two points in the match - Both Morrow and Ribeiro had a goal and an assist, and Brunnstrom pitched in two helpers. Great news, because Ribeiro and Morrow seem to be picking up right where they left off last season with their great play, and Brunnstrom is showing how he’ll fit in with the scoring talent that the Stars have.

For the Avs, perennial Star-killer Ryan Smyth had a goal and an assist. Without seeing the play, I can only picture it in my head, but I imagine he was the gritty, hard-nose player he’s always been, and will have the year he should have had last year when the Avs signed him as a free agent. The only question will remain - can he stay injury-free? He’s only played 73 games over the past two seasons, and he appears to be well-rested this year. I have a feeling he’s going to be the Avs toughest weapon as the season moves on.

In off-ice notes - the Stars announced that rookie prospects, defensemen Trevor Ludwig and Guillaume Monast, signed three-year entry-level contracts. Ludwig, son of former Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig, is expected to play for Idaho of the East Coast League and Monast will return to Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior League, the team he skated for last season.

The Stars take to the ice again on Saturday, when they play the St. Louis Blues at the American Airlines Center at 7pm. Don’t forget - the Stars are having an Open House event Saturday morning, and everyone in attendance will get two free tickets to one of the remaining three home pre-season games. I’ll see you there!

New Beta Site Preview announced they have a new beta site, showcasing significant changes to the layout of their website. For now, their old format is still the default.

From what I've seen of it, I really like it. I have to admit to being tipped off to this by fellow hockey blogger Mother Pucker, and thanks to him for that! Has anyone had any trouble navigating the site or accessing information? Should they switch to this permanently soon? Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Claude Lemieux Pondering a Return?

One of my favorite hockey bloggers, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog, commented on the rumors of a comeback return by infamous former Avalanche hit man and one-time Dallas Star, Claude Lemieux.
The Two-Line Pass sent over this headline last night from French language sports news outlet RDS: "Claude Lemieux tente un retour." And while we're not exactly Babel Fish over here, I believe the loose translation is, "Claude Lemieux is coming back to the NHL to own all your asses and win another Conn Smythe."

While I don't necessarily agree that this is a smart move by Claude, it does raise some interesting questions. Namely - where would he return? Who wants a 43-year old enforcer in today's NHL? Wyshynski said: "What about a line of Steve Ott-Sean Avery-Claude Lemieux on the Dallas Stars?". While a line of Ott, Avery and an in-his-prime Claude Lemieux is a very juicy thought, I don't know that this guy has what it takes any more. Besides, his last stint in Dallas only lasted for a few months. After coming over to the Stars as part of the Jamie Langenbrunner/Joe Nieuwendyk/Jason Arnott swap with the New Jersey Devils, he played in 32 regular-season games for the Stars and only tallied 6 points (2 G, 4 A) and 14 penalty minutes. In the 7 playoff games he was in, he could only muster 1 point (an assist), though he did have 10 PIMs. I barely noticed he was HERE. Can he do much more than this today? Hmmm...prolly not. But, good luck Claude! Just not on our team. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pre-Season Game 1: St. Louis 3, Dallas 2

The Stars were downed by the Blues tonight in the first pre-season game of the year, 3-2. There was no broadcast of the game, but the box score shows that Steve Avery made his presence known in his first appearance in a Stars uniform. Unfortunately, the Blues had three players - Lee Stempniak, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes - who each had a goal and assist. Still, despite the mark in the loss column, it appears to be a good first outing for the Dallas Stars.

CHL Announces Pre-Season Schedule

This just in from a CHL press release:

The Central Hockey League (CHL) announced on Tuesday its 16-game pre-season schedule that begins on Wednesday, October 8th and concludes on Saturday, October 11th. All 16 CHL member teams will compete in a minimum of one pre-season game. Training camps for CHL teams begin on Monday, October 6th.

A pair of charity games will open up the CHL pre-season schedule with the Rocky Mountain Rage visiting the Colorado Eagles on October 8th in a game that will benefit Les Borsheim, a three-year member of the Eagles who was injured in a motorcycle accident earlier in the summer. The second benefit game will be between the Tulsa Oilers and the Wichita Thunder who will raise money for the Rob Guinn Memorial Fund, a former CHL player with Tulsa and New Mexico who was killed during the off-season in a car accident.

The defending Ray Miron President’s Cup Champion Arizona Sundogs will host the Wichita Thunder at the Tim’s Toyota Center in a pair of pre-season games. The games are scheduled for Friday, October 10th and Saturday, October 11th.

The expansion Rapid City Rush will take the ice for the first time on Friday, October 10th with a pre-season game scheduled versus the Rocky Mountain Rage at the Broomfield Event Center.

2008 CHL Pre-Season Schedule (All Start Times Are Local)

Wednesday, October 8
Rocky Mountain at Colorado, 7:05 p.m. at the Budweiser Events Center
Tulsa at Wichita, 7:05 p.m. at the Wichita Ice Center

Thursday, October 9
Rio Grande Valley at Laredo, 7:00 p.m. at the Laredo Entertainment Center
Oklahoma City at Tulsa, 7:00 p.m. at the Oilers Ice Center

Friday, October 10
Rapid City at Rocky Mountain, 7:05 p.m. at the Broomfield Event Center
Laredo at Rio Grande Valley, 7:35 p.m. at the Dodge Arena
Wichita at Arizona, 7:05 p.m. at the Tim’s Toyota Center
New Mexico at Amarillo, 7:05 p.m. at the Amarillo Civic Center
Bossier-Shreveport at Mississippi, 7:05 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center

Saturday, October 11
Laredo at Corpus Christi, 7:05 p.m. at the American Bank Center
Rapid City at Colorado, 7:05 p.m. at the Budweiser Events Center
Tulsa at Oklahoma City, 7:10 p.m. at the Blazers Ice Center
Odessa at Texas, 7:00 p.m. at the NYTEX Sports Centre
Wichita at Arizona, 7:05 p.m. at the Tim’s Toyota Center
Bossier-Shreveport at Mississippi, 7:05 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center
Amarillo at New Mexico, 7:00 p.m. at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center (Santa Fe, NM)

CHL’s 17th Season Begins October 17th; Catch the Action on the CHL Network
The CHL’s regular season begins on Friday, October 17th with six games on the schedule. The league’s 512-game schedule concludes on Saturday, March 25th. Catch all the action of the CHL on the CHL Network. The easy-to-download network player is available at and is powered by NiFTy Online Television (

CHL All-Star Game on January 14th in Loveland, Colorado
The 2009 CHL All-Star Game is scheduled for Wednesday, January 14th at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado. The game will be hosted by the Colorado Eagles and presented by Poudre Valley Health Systems. The format for this year’s game features a team of CHL All-Stars taking on the Colorado Eagles and the game can be seen nationally on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. For more information and for all-star updates visit or

About the CHL
The CHL will be entering its 17th season of play this fall, with 16 member teams across nine states. The CHL saw more than 2.3 million fans attend games during the 2008-09 season and has led North American professional ‘AA’ hockey leagues in average attendance for six of the past seven seasons. In 2009, the CHL will welcome Independence, Missouri and Allen, Texas as expansion teams for the 2009-10 season. The CHL is administered by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Global Entertainment Corporation (AMEX: GEE), a company engaged in sports management, multi-purpose events and entertainment center and related real estate development, facility and venue management and marketing, and venue ticketing. For more information about the CHL visit the league’s website at

Hitting the Ice

Welcome to Big D Hockey, and thanks for taking a look at what's going on here. I hope I'll be able to bring you an educated look into this NHL season and spark some discussion about how things unfold for the Dallas Stars, the Western Conference and the league itself. Everyone has their favorite team, and I'm no exception to the rule (Go Stars!), but I'm a pretty objective person, I think, and I'm looking forward to some great debates and discussions this season if we can get enough people involved. Please don't be afraid to toss the gloves off and be the "third man in" if you see a discussion you want to weigh in on.

Also, being a fan of the sport of hockey at all levels, I'll do my best to get you some updates from the CHL, a league I used to cover when I was the beat writer for the Odessa Jackalopes at the Midland Reporter-Telegram. I still follow the players and coaches, and have a few contacts I can check with throughout the year, so I hope to give you some insight for a few teams in that league as well. This season will be a wash for the NAHL's Texas Tornado, located up in Frisco, due to some renovations being done to the Deja Blue Arena, where they play. But, if I hear any news surrounding the team, that's certainly fair game as well.

Look forward to seeing you as the season moves along. Go Stars!! And Game On!!