GAMES 40 - 60
There is a common belief among smart General Managers that games 40 thru 60 of the 82 game schedule tell you a lot about what type of team you have.
The Stars play game 60 this week.
Overall they are 29 to the good, 23 to the bad, and 7 to the whatever – but a 29-23-7 record only reveals so much. What about that afore mentioned 20 game segment? Well let’s have a gander.
Record: They went 12-6-2 with three victories in overtime, two in shootouts.
Location: Played 12 at home, 8 on the road (8-3-1 at AAC, 4-3-1 away)
Scoring Leaders: Ribeiro 19 pts, Ott 17 pts, Lehtinen 16 pts, Eriksson and Richards 14 pts, Niskanen 13 pts, Modano and Neal 11 pts
Goals: Ott 9, Eriksson, Lehtinen, Ribeiro, and Richards 6
Assists: Ribeiro 13, Niskanen 12, Modano and Lehtinen 10
Goals from defensemen: 8
Goaltending: Turco played every minute of every game and allowed 2 goals or less in 13 of the 20.
Special Teams: PP 17 for 82 (21%), PK 58 of 68 (85%)
Total Goals Scored: 60 (3.00 per game)
Total Goals Allowed: 43 (2.15 per game)
O.K., enough of the bean counting - what about the general overview – what have games 40 to 60 told us about the 2008-09 Stars?
I think it’s showed they are undermanned due to injuries but competing hard on a once again regular and familiar basis. It has suggested they have become reliant on one line to provide the bulk of the scoring and are being paced by the unlikely goal production of Steve Ott. It has hinted that 175 pound Mike Ribeiro can’t play 25 minutes a game and be responsible in all three zones of the ice. The overall offensive output is trending downward with just 12 goals scored over the last 8 games – that 10 goal aberration vs the NYR nine games ago has artificially boosted the 20-game average. They lost 1-0 on three separate occasions. Rookies James Neal and Fabian Brunnstrom have faded in their effectiveness. 38 year old Mike Modano has started to appear intermittently weary and hasn’t scored a goal in his last 13 games (Longest drought of his career). Leading goal scorer Loui Eriksson’s play has tapered off and his chemistry with Brad Richards has been shelved. The defense-corp has tried to hold tight but seems a player or two short, and its warrior-leader Stephane Robidas is starting to look run-down, taking more penalties. The powerplay enjoyed a resurgence early in the segment but the loss of Richards has staggered its production (They are 1 for 16 in the four games without him). The penalty killing has become a saving grace thanks in large part to Turco who has been heroic.
RAZOR CONCLUSION: They are a well prepared but now semi-ragtag bunch that is being propped up with outstanding goaltending - but Marty can’t score. They need some help or else it will likely be too taxing on the able-bodies to remain in the top 8 during the final 22 games – a finish that includes four trips to California and only 20 non-game days. Turco will need a break at some point. The group of forwards needs an infusion of skill/talent – probably a center now that Richards is out for the regular season and someone who can make plays under pressure. The d-corp has never had Zubov replaced (not that you can, totally) – a puck mover that can dictate the pace and flow and play the point on the PP would be a nice addition. Special teams and goaltending will decide the bulk of the contests from here on in (What else is new?) – recharge the powerplay and they might be able to ride it, and Turco, right into the post season where they could get both Richards and captain Brenden Morrow back in the fold, and then who knows what they could do.
How do they do this?
Well start by getting Sean Avery off the books. (I’d send Rangers G.M. Glen Sather a dedicated cell phone that he can use as a sort of “red” Oval Office emergency telephone). When he gets plucked off recallable waivers use the dough saved to help obtain the forward and defenseman you need from the “sellers” prior to next week’s trade deadline. (Anaheim, Pittsburgh and Ottawa might be good places to shop). Whether it’s just little band-aid deals or bigger picture ones you’d be hard pressed to find many observers who believe this team in its current state can make the playoffs without some outside assistance.
Those that say they can I will dub “The Black Knights”, for they are clearly in denial as to the severity of the wounds just as he was as he stood on that bridge in Monty Python and the Holy Grail - armless, legless and bleeding profusely. Zubov, Morrow, Richards and Sean Avery are the Stars “Knight’s” severed appendages (Although some would place Avery in a different part of his anatomy) – and no, they are not merely “flesh wounds”.
Oh, and threatening to “bite their opponent’s legs off” isn’t going to help either.
Posted on February 24, 2009 02:00 PM Email Razor
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